It was Friday, the season opener for the Anaheim Ducks—it should have been a joyous occasion—and I was interested in watching the game immediately after work. To mark the occasion I was going to have a bottle of Washington Cabernet Sauvignon with a hamburger. I would need to choose a dining spot not five minutes (barring seemingly inexhaustible Los Angeles traffic) from where I currently reside on Santa Monica Blvd to catch the broadcast. Things were getting hurried and jammed.

In my sights, the Corner Deli and Grill, an inconspicuous pick, turning out decent fare at low prices, hidden in plain sight to the hundreds of thousands that drive by it in a day, it also fit my search criteria: a short drive from my residence. Operating within a mini-mart, armed with just the necessities to cook: a grill, griddle, counter, a case and few other tools to run the miniature kitchen.

I ordered the regular burger ($4.49), an economic deal for a 1/3-pound of “Angus” beef, tomato, lettuce and a considerable spread of mayo, including seasoned fries. No more than five minutes after my order and I was out the door with the Styrofoam carrier in hand, negotiating traffic on Santa Monica Blvd to better my chances of catching the Ducks game.

Once home, I got the hockey game primed—already behind two-zero in the first period, the Ducks were making a poor case for a fast start to the beginning of the season—and quickly unscrewed the top to my bottle of Chateau Smith, pouring the garnet liquid into my Riedel stemware, with the hopes of abbreviating the aeration. I gave the Cabernet Sauvignon a few minutes to open up, expecting the brash tannins of its California counterpart, before taking my first swig. In the meantime, I devoured the aromas of the Washington red wine, picking up some cedar, a little black fruit.

For some time I had wanted to acquaint my palate with the Washington winemakers, those many who have made significant success with Cabernet Sauvignon, vaunted for their finesse. I was hoping that their acumen would lead to a better encounter with Cabernet Sauvignon (the typical exchange left my wallet hurting and my mouth roughed up).

The maker of my bottle, Charles Smith—chief winemaker of K Vintners and Charles Smith wines—is a magnanimous character in the wine world, an important winemaker and practitioner of the grape in Washington. He has drawn lots of attention to the area with his critically acclaimed Syrah (fetching perfect scores from RP).

Wines hailing from Washington dwell in a long and cool growing season, unlike the scorching sun that shines mercilessly in some of the more famous AVA’s of California. The cooler climate is similar to the Rhone Valley but Chateau Smith is an elegant and fitting tribute to Bordeaux, blending 96.5% Cabernet Sauvignon with 3.5% Malbec.

The burger was huge, the sesame seed bun was soft and warm, the patty was painted with char marks and the first bite showed promise. The texture of the patty was not as tender as the “angus” would generally imply, but it was a good expression of a fast food burger. Then I brought the thin-rimmed glassware to my lips, pairing the bold char flavor with the Cabernet. It was a hit; my taste buds were delighted because the weight of the wine (medium-full body) supported the hamburger effortlessly.

The Cabernet on its own was very good, soft tannins, low alcohol (relative to the Cabernets to which I am accustomed) and nice persistence of fruit flavors on the finish.

The immediacy of the wine was unexpected but its result was instantly gratifying where I might have had to wait the better half of a decade before I could think of enjoying a bottle of Napa Cab. The burger was good (7/10) with respect to the style but the beverage overshadowed it. I enjoyed my first introduction to Washington Red wines via Charles Smith and if only the Ducks had managed to wrest their first victory of the season and had not fallen disgracefully to the Detroit Red Wings (4-0), the night would have been over-the-top outstanding.