This is the big week football lovers, commercial fans and foodies have been waiting for! Whether or not football is the real reason for watching the Super Bowl, it usually instigates a celebration of good party food and drink. Due to the ever-popular Clydesdales, singing frogs, and lovable dogs, the featured drink always seems to center around beer, even though the NFL is now promoting Barefoot Wine as the “Wine of the NFL.” Let us be honest, there could have been a better choice … and while that might be your choice to have at parties where the audience is unknown, now is the chance to sway your audience toward “other” wine, and show them that yes, it is possible to have wine AND football food!
Besides the traditional football faire, it is always fun to serve some food that highlights the area from where each team hails. Starting with San Francisco, were Cioppino and sourdough reins. Cioppino could seem like a challenging soup to embark on; however, there are some substitutions to make it a bit simpler. Dungeness crab is one key ingredient you could swap blue crab for, or you could simply make a tomato-based fish stew with shrimp, whitefish, clams, and mussels. There are also some stores that carry a bag of assorted seafood for stews as well. Do not forget the San Francisco Sourdough to sop it up with! Now, for the pairing, you will want something to pair with the tomato and seafood characters which can be daunting. You want to match acid with acid. An Albariño from Spain, with its bracing acidity and mineralities is always a wonderful companion to seafood dishes. A Provencal Rosé would bring red fruit to bring out the tomato stock and the acidity would marry well and bring forward the seafood notes. Another choice is Vermentino. Produced in Italy, often near the ocean, it brings forth salinity, and refreshing fruity notes of citrus and white peaches. All of these wines would also play nicely with the other Super Bowl party foods.
Kansas City is known for its barbecue! Prepare some brisket sliders and barbecued ribs. Kansas City sauce tends to be on the bold and slightly fruity side, so choose a wine with some fruit-forward characters to marry up, and good structured tannins to hold up to the weight of the sauce and the smoky follow-through. Brisket Burnt Ends would be a great game-day food; small sections of barbeque with crispy rich edges. With Burnt Ends, a Syrah/Shiraz would be a great companion. Syrah/Shiraz has short fruit forwardness, followed by spice and pepper, with smoky tones to partner up with the meat. Think Zinfandel to pair up with the barbecued ribs or sliders. Zin has more rich fruit up front, and the bold tannins will stand up nicely with the richness of the sauce.
More than likely, the Super Bowl festivities will include more than just foods representing the teams. Here are some other super suggestions. Spinach Artichoke dip with Gruner Veltliner. The herbal notes will pair with the veggie part, and the acid will cut through the creaminess, yet highlight any spices. Here is one to wow: Buffalo Wings with off-dry Riesling or Chenin Blanc! The slight sweetness will help cool the heat, the citrus will match the tang, and the weight of the wine will cut through the butter. Have some Rhone-style red available for chili; the fruity start will cut through the heat, and it has enough weight to marry up with the beef and beans.
Make sure to position the wines intended to pair next to their food partners with a small sign to note the recommendation. Have fun with this, and perhaps try some of the other not-so-typical wines in the other pairings, to see if they play nicely with the other foods as well. You might even assign certain folks to bring a pairing with the food they are bringing. Another great way to bring in wine to the party is to swap out the traditional football pool, with one where wine is the reward instead of cash! Have fun and drink the good stuff!!
Life is too short to drink bad wine! - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Go Team Wine!