Super Bowl Wine Pairings

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Super Bowl XLV is approaching fast and everyone should have a good idea what food will be on the menu for the big game.  Beer is probably the beverage choice for over 70% of you,  but I'm calling an audible to put a twist in your gameplan.  Here's a few typical Super Bowl foods and some pairing ideas:

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  • Pizza.  An extremely popular choice which needs a beverage that can stand up to sweet, tangy tomatoes, cheese and topping choices.  You're going to need a wine with decent body and acidity to play with the tomato, some tannin for any meat, spice and juicy red fruit to enhance the experience.  I love Sangiovese, like Avignonesi Rosso di Montepulciano ($15.99), or a Zinfandel like Foxglove ($12.99).
  • Buffalo Wings.  Food like this is synonymous with sports viewing.  You'll definitely need some body on the wine along with some sweetness to pair with the spiciness of the wings and saltiness of the blue cheese.  I like Riesling, like Dr. Heidemanns-Bergweiler QbA ($12.99), Pinot Gris like Seven Hills ($13.99) or a very fruity Australian red like Mitolo "Jester" Cabernet Sauvignon ($11.99).
  • Chili.  The crockpots will be working overtime this weekend and you're going to need a wine with body, meatiness, acidity and spiciness to stand up your recipe.  Syrah/Shiraz is perfect for this dish, and I'd go with Ben Glaetzer Heartland Shiraz ($13.99) or Four Vines Paso Robles Syrah ($13.99).
  • Burgers.  Many will be firing up the grill for some burger delight.  You'll need a beefy wine with some tannins, body and ripe fruit to help you take a bite out of that charred flavor.  I love Malbec for the task, especially Cueva de las Manos Malbec Reserve ($12.99).
  • Hot Dogs.  Another popular meat choice, this depends mostly upon how you'll be topping it.  For the typical Chicago-style, I like my German Riesling choice we used for the wings.  For a chili dog, go with the Syrah/Shiraz choices from the chili.

So for beer drinkers who want a little more than Pilsners, I suggest you try something different like Goose Island Pepe Nero, Two Brothers The Bitter End Pale Ale or Bell's Best Brown Ale

Whatever you do, I know you'll score but if you take any of these picks, they're guaranteed to be a touchdown!

Gary Vaynerchuk on Today Show for Super Bowl Wines

I woke up early this morning, grabbed my vitamins and water, and turned on the Today Show to find Gary Vaynerchuk giving out his Super Bowl wine picks.  This comes a day after I gave out my Chicagoland available wines and favorite carryout/delivery spots for pizza, wings and chili.  Needless to say, I'm always interested in what @garyvee has to say about pairings, plus he's pretty entertaining to watch.  So here's what dishes were picked and what to pair with them:

First, they started off with chicken wings, which Gary paired with an Albariño, which is a grape varietal used in northwest Spain to make white wines with high acidity, low alcohol (great for spicy dishes) and possessing peachy flavor.  I like this pick, but I think Alsatian varietals like Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc or Riesling would work better, a rosé wine or even a New Zealand Pinot Noir. 

They then went to pizza, and Gary pulled out a Touriga Nacional, a varietal grown in Portugal and normally used to make port, but in recent times makes colossal wines from the Douro.  These wines have a large structure and tannins so it could be a good pairing, but I like reds that match well with the tomato sauce.  Italian reds like those made from Montepulciano, Sangiovese or Piedirosso varietals work great with tomatoes because of their bright acidity and cherry flavors. 

Lastly, the focus went to sausage and peppers (and I am a HUGE fan), which Gary paired with Cava, a sparkling wine made in Spain, normally out of three indigenous varietals, Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo.  I've always been a huge advocate of sparkling wines being a go-to for almost any pairing, but I will have to travel back to Italy and grab either a Super Tuscan, which normally has better tannins to go with the oily sauce and sweet peppers, or Aglianico from just outside of Napoli in the south.

Most of these wines can be found for $15 or under, which is great.  Gary has some great picks on his online store, Wine Library, or if you live in Chicagoland, just check out my Best Buys, travel to your local wine shop and grab a few bottles.  And enjoy your Super Bowl!

Super Bowl XLIV Wine/Beverage Picks

The big game is around the corner, and whether you're entertaining or bringing your favorite snacks and beverages to your friend's house, you'll want to put your best foot forward and pair up your eats with your drinks.  You can impress your friends and make them envious of your picks.  Besides Peyton and Drew, you'll be the talk of the party!  So let's get on to some colossal pairings:

Before we get into the wine, I always like to have some beer onhand.  It not only has that slight hoppy bitterness but is also a thirst quencher.  For this Sunday I like Lagunitas "The Censored" Rich Copper Ale.  It has everything you want in a beer and more.  A creamy, malty flavor, slightly bitter but smooth hops, a rich copper color, a touch of citrus, caramel and brown sugar.  You can find this for around $10.99/6 pack.  It's also great because it pairs well with most foods you'll enjoy, including spicy ones.  I love it with chili, wings and spicy chips.

Wine value picks with tough names are what's called for on Super Bowl Sunday.  You should have some white onhand, in case it's called for, and I couldn't think of a better one to have than 2008 Big Fire Pinot Gris ($12.99).  This grape has a great roundness to it and the wine packs the fruit in: grapefruit, tangerine and pears.  You can feel honey and smell flowers in the glass, giving you no problem when the spice from hot wings comes a-knockin'!

For the reds, we'll kick off with 2007 Torres Sangre de Toro (blood of the bull), a blend of Garnacha and Cariñena ($8.99).  It packs cherry and raspberry fruit flavor with cola and dried floral scents.  The medium body and soft tannins are a great blend to accompany your Super Bowl chili creation.  Next we aim to please our Pinot lovers with 2007 Three Saints Pinot Noir ($24.99).  Even if you're not a Saints fan, you will still enjoy the blackberries, raspberries and tea notes, along with the ripe acidity.  We can finish off the wine with two big, luscious examples.  First off, we have 2007 Tait "The Ball Buster" Shiraz, which has big dark fruit, vanilla, oak and smooth tannins ($17.99).  Also go for 2008 Owen Roe Abbot's Table ($22.99), a big blend of eight varietals, mostly Sangiovese and Zinfandel.  It's a big bite of rich red and dark fruit, and ready to take on your pizza and nachos.

The most important thing to take away from the pairings is what goes well with this cuisine.  You will be enjoying some spice, tomato based items (chili, pizza) and fried and greasier dishes.  You will need beverages that have a touch of sweetness to put out the fire, are fruity, a lower alcohol content (usually enflames spices) and that have a touch of spice themselves to mesh with the food.

I love making my own food (especially my World's Best Nachos), especially for big events.  I will have to include my wings and pizza recipes later, but in the meantime, I will give out some of my favorite vendors:

No matter what you pick, remember to drink responsibly, don't mix it with driving, and have a great time.  Any event that you get together with people you like is a sure to be a great time, so make sure it is positive from start to finish.  Have fun!