Tailgating Wines

What to drink for the big game


Are you ready for some football? Some Monday night parties? How about some Sunday afternoon bacchanalia?

Wait a minute, that’s not how the song goes. But if you’re like me, that might be how your life goes.

Football season is upon us and though I may protest that people spend far too much of their lives watching sports, it is a handy excuse to gather some friends and dig into a sumptuous feast. After a summer of lightweight dining, the start of football season is a perennial reminder that bigger, badder, bolder things are on the horizon!  In order to celebrate this pivotal event, Kate Statton over at Whatscook.in has put together some of her favorite tailgating snacks. Now let’s see if we can’t figure out the right game plan to pair them with some fine wines.

Photo courtesy DAveA via Flickr/CC

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Okay, so this reminds me of the Deion Sanders Direct TV commercial. “We’re all winners now. Except for whoever made this dip. That’s flat out nasty!” I’m sure some folks think this is delicious, but I’m going to call roughing the chipper on this one. I mean, the recipe calls for 1 CAN of chicken!

Okay, yes it can be made with fresh roasted chicken, and it all sounds delicious, but I’ll stick with my buffalo wings. If you’re going for that Buffalo flavor and need something to tame the heat, try something with a bit of sweetness and high acid. Riesling is an easy call to make, but here I would see if you can find some light sparkling Italian reds like those made in Oltrepò Pavese or even Freisa Vivace from Piedmont.

Try: 2009 Castello di Luzzzano Carlino

Smoked Ribs

Now we’re talking. Ribs and tailgating go together like Jerry Rice and Joe Montana! The deep, complex flavors of the soy, sherry and honey in this sauce scream for something equally big, and assertive, but relatively simple. A gut reaction might be to reach for the Zinfandel here, but I think you’ll need something that can really grind it out. I’m liking the idea of something with a bit more acidity and it’s got Petite Sirah written all over it. Big, spiced blueberry fruit sounds like the perfect play to call here. Touchdown!

Try: 2008 Pedroncelli Petite Sirah

Knorr Spinach Dip

Okay, this is a classic. My grandmother made this dip. Who doesn’t like dip that starts out in a box? It’s like starting out in the red zone. That’s an easy score, unless you’re the Giants. Did you see last week’s game? Good thing I’m a Jets fan. Heck, this dip is even color-coded for a Jet fan, go Gang Green! So what do you pair with something so full of sour creamy goodness?

I’m thinking that this is more than vaguely Greek, and a nice Greek wine would be a real treat. In fact, I’m going to call in the ringer and go so far as to say that one of the newer styled Retsina wines that has just a hint of resin in its flavor profile would crush this like Alex Karras. Seriously, you should try a great Retsina, but if you want to play it safe why not try a nice dry Muscat.

Try: Gaia Ritinitis Noblis Retsina

Breakfast Sausage Casserole

Now this sounds trashy but good! I could totally go for this and make enough so that there are indeed leftovers because this sounds like just my kind of breakfast. Of course I’ll have some coffee with breakfast, but during the game this could go well with so many wines.

A little crisp fruit and some spice, lay out some Zweigelt, a bit of Mencia, or a nice Syrah-based blend and you’ll rock this casserole all game long. You might even be wishing for overtime!

Try: 2009 Domaine Pelaquie Lirac


Is there is anything better than a pot of chili during the game? Okay, I might be able to think of one or two things, but chili in the fall is one of the great joys of life. I love to make a big ol’ pot and let it sit around for a few days, adding freshly diced onions, pickled jalapenos and great grated cheese to mine.

So what goes with chili? Everything! Seriously, I almost don’t care what I drink with my chili. But since I’m pairing these dishes, let’s call in the specialist. This might surprise you but I’m calling for a nice Chilean Carmenere. It’s got enough intensity to handle the chili’s spice, good acidity and a green herbal element that’s the perfect foil for the jalapeno-laced bites!

Try: 2008 Apaltagua Envero

Pig Roast

Oh yes, baby. Roast a pig for the big game. Let’s get there early, dig a pit on the parking lot (section M where they can’t see us) and drop kick some pig in for the long, slow roast. Juicy, deliciously smoky pig is a tailgating classic and it deserves a classic pairing.

I love a modern Rioja Reserva here, something with some nice wood spice but plenty of juicy Tempranillo fruit to handle the pig. It’s not really that complex a dish after all, so reaching for a more complex wine is the perfect solution!

Try: 2004 Conde de Valdemar Reserva

Slideshow View

Mentioned in this article


  • Snooth User: Nicki Gig
    Hand of Snooth
    178306 4,217

    Such a fun article. I am so excited for football season!

    Sep 02, 2011 at 12:34 PM

Add a Comment

Search Articles

Best Wine Deals

See More Deals

Snooth Media Network