When I think of football season of course I think about the exciting games ahead but I must admit I get more enthusiastic about food, friends and beverages all coming together during the big game.
We all know beer and football go together (almost) like wine and cheese, but as football season kicks off I wanted to share a few game day wines and football food pairings that are easy winners.
POTATO CHIPS AND CHARDONNAY
It isn’t glamorous, but the potato chip is a game day staple. And, surprisingly, it is a perfect match to wine. Not only is the potato chip easy to serve and inexpensive, it has an ingredient that wines love — salt. This simple pairing makes snacking during the big game as easy as a bowl and a wineglass.
- 2013 Apaltagua Chardonnay, Chile (about $11 retail)
- 2014 Raeburn Russian River Valley Chardonnay, California (about $20 retail)
CHILI AND CABERNET SAUVIGNON
There is nothing like the smell of a big pot of chili simmering to announce the arrival of football season. It’s an easy dish for game day because it can be eaten at everyone’s convenience and topped with an array of ingredients to meet personal tastes. Cabernet sauvignon pairs into every type of chili: turkey, beef, chicken, spicy and even vegetarian. The dish’s strong acidity in conjunction with the hearty smoky rich texture make it an ideal match for full-bodied cabernet sauvignon.
- 2014 Belle Ambiance Cabernet Sauvignon, California (about $9 retail)
- 2013 Round Pond Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon, California (about $62 retail)
HOT WINGS AND SAUVIGNON BLANC
Everyone loves a hot wing on the game day menu but, honestly, it possibly is the most difficult food to match with wine. The wings usually come with a substantial kick of heat. It’s that heat, derived from a vinegar-based hot sauce, plus salty skin, savory meat and creamy blue cheese dipping sauce that makes wings so irresistible. It sounds mouthwatering, but that’s a lot of flavors going on in a dish. So you may be shocked that a white wine is generally your best pairing. Pairing wings with red wines is like putting a dry, tannic spice bomb in your mouth.
- 2104 Gnarly Head Sauvignon Blanc, California (about $10 retail)
- 2014 Niner Wine Estates Sauvignon Blanc, California (about $22 retail)
BURGERS/RIBS/STEAK AND MERLOT
I know that’s a lot to ask from a single wine but merlot can handle the flavors of smoke, sauce, cheese, sweet onions and even Heinz 57 — you name it. Merlot has always been the crowd-pleaser with its rich fruity flavors. It has a softer style than the powerful tannins of cabernet sauvignon, making its pairing capacity broad; it can pair with richly sauced dishes, caramelized foods, and even a touch of spice.
- 2014 Bogle Merlot, California (about $12 retail)
- 2013 Hourglass Estate, Napa Valley California (about $66 retail)