Even though there is nothing like watching football with a great brew in hand, you don’t need to have a beer-only ootball party. But the Serious Foodies at your party may not be your average American football fan. So, let’s impress them with a nice glass of vino to go with all those great football party munchies.
This article focuses on wine suggestions that would work with most foods you’ll have on hand during the big game(s).
Let’s start with the starters – chips & salsa, maybe some smoked salmon, or guacamole. We think that the whites from Campania are magical with guacamole, like Greco di Tufo or Falanghina (try Taburno). If you want a riper wine to cut through the spice, try Grüner Veltliner from the Wachau region (Hermann Moser, for example). You want enough alcohol to match the weight and texture of the avocado, but enough acidity to match the lime. These wines will also work well with shellfish & seafood (crab dip, shrimp, oysters).
If you are starting with something very spice, you can always go to a semi-dry Riesling. It might be a wine-pairing cliche at this point, but these wines are perfect with Mexican food, spicy Chinese, or even Buffalo chicken wines: naturally low in alcohol, and their residual sugar helps tame spice. German examples from Mosel (look for Kabinett or Spätlese) will work nicely, but an American bottle where the fruit leads will prove even better. Try the Rieslings from Oregon, such as the great versions from Trisaetum Estates. For the price, we really like Chateau St. Michelle Riesling Eroica (about $20).
All of a sudden, it seems that Lambrusco has gotten very trendy – and for good reason. It’s a sparkling wine from Italy’s Emilia Romagna region, which had a very bad reputation for a long time. There are now serious producers making excellent wines at good prices. Lambrusco is most commonly found as a light to medium red that is fruity, bright, fresh, and more than anything lots of fun. So, if you’ve got slices of salami, prosciutto, an Italian sub, pepperoni pizza, or even ribs, try Lambrusco – the fruitiness and low alcohol are ideal for the spice of Super Football food while the acid and effervescence cut through fat. The affordable Cantina Medici Ermete Concerto (about $20) would be a good choice, along with Venturini Baldini and the Chiarli Lambrusco Modena. These wines also work well with nibbles such as Parmesan crisps, figs and bacon, or Gorgonzola with cherry jam.
How about something for the consummate game day food: chili. Here’s where we bring out the heavy guns, such as Grenache, Syrah, or Malbec. With the ground beef, and lots of tomato, we love a juicy Grenache from Spain or Australia – ripe, seductive red fruit, but with relatively higher alcohol and moderate, balanced acidity. Actually, we really like some of the US versions, especially those coming from Paso Robles. Look for Tablas Creek Cotes De Tablas Rouge, about $25. Our first tasting of this wine was a pairing with some high-end hamburgers – really excellent stuff.
Our all time favorite, though, for matching football food with wine is the Prisoner – which may be another wine-pairing cliche for a lot of folks, but it does work – so go with it. It’s big and bold, and a mouthful. This is not a prissy wine, but something that you want to match against some powerful flavors. Here’s what Wine Spectator has to say, which is spot-on: “Ripe, jammy and sweet, this is loaded with toasty oak. Subtle this is not, loaded with flavor, offering notes of black cherry, chocolate, licorice and cinnamon spice. Should appeal to fans of the style. Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Syrah and Charbono.”