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Pigskin Picks


A football party includes certain beloved standbys—from spicy chili and zesty chicken wings to burgers and pizza. This year, though, why not pass on the brew and bring wine to the party? Football party fare serves up a wide range of flavors that can match just as well with wine as it does with the usual beer selection.

I asked Karen Page and her husband, Andrew Dornenburg, James Beard Award-winning co-authors of What to Drink with What You Eat and The Flavor Bible to help us tackle pairing wine with a selection of football party favorites—you and your guests may forget whether your team won or lost. And the party is really the best part, isn’t it?

Chicken Wings (Buffalo and BBQ): There are few things better than bubbles to cleanse your tongue of spice and heat. But this isn’t the time for fine Champagne. Try an ice-cold Prosecco instead.

Chili: Try a relatively lighter-bodied, fruity California Zinfandel, a Côtes du Rhône, or a Syrah-based red wine.

Chips and Salsa /Quesadillas: Especially if guacamole is on the table, pair your tortilla chips and salsa with a chilled Torrontes from Argentina. Or go with a nice, cold Spanish Cava.

Deviled Eggs: Sparkling wine often goes well with eggs—try either Cava or Prosecco on game day. A nice Sauvignon Blanc will do the trick, as well.

Hamburger /Cheeseburger: All-American hamburgers go well with all-American wines like Zinfandel. With cheese and bacon, consider a Spanish Rioja.

Meatballs/Sauce: Tomato sauce calls for an acidic red—from Italy, better yet. Go for Chianti or another Sangiovese-based wine.

• Pepperoni/Sausage: Go with an Italian Barbera or a classic like Chianti.
• Veggie: If you like your pizza with peppers and onions, try a Cabernet Franc-based red wine, or a Sauvignon Blanc if you prefer white.
• Supreme: When you’ve got everything but the kitchen sink on your pizza, consider an Italian Prosecco, especially a pink (rosé) Prosecco if you can get your hands on one! It goes with virtually everything.

Sausage / Hot Dog: Pour a slightly chilled Beaujolais—or if you’d like a white, try an off-dry Riesling.

Submarine Sandwiches: Consider a chilled rosé wine—it’s an incredibly flexible style that can make peace with virtually any meat, cheese, or condiment on a sub.

Veggies and Dip: Try a Sauvignon Blanc, especially if it’s an herb-based dip—the herbs in the dip will cancel out those in the wine, playing up the wine’s fruitiness.

And a Go-To Wine?: The game-day table will probably include a selection of these dishes, and guests will certainly want to sample a variety of tasty tidbits, so what wines can play nice with a plateful of these foods better than others? “We’d go with a chilled Prosecco or a rosé wine. They’re both incredibly versatile,” say Page and Dornenburg. “And if you can find a rare pink Prosecco—all the better!”

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Minnesota Monthly's Taste Blog answers your restaurant and dining questions, dishes on latest discoveries, reflects on breaking news, and generally brings the plate to the page with a skilled crew of experts: Learn more about the Taste bloggers.

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