Super Bowl is to party food what Thanksgiving is to turkey. The pedestal belongs to foods we know and love to indulge in on this occasion—chips, dips, pizza, buffalo wings, barbecue ribs, and the like. Though beer still reigns supreme as the drink of choice, a surprising number of us prefer to uncork a bottle (or several) of wine instead.
This is the occasion where snobbery oftentimes surrounding the picking of the wine really doesn’t stand. It’s party food pairing, after all. Which wines would go with this cornucopia of deliciousness?
For salads, veggies, and creamy dips
One wine that pairs really well with those “difficult” foods such as greens, broccoli, asparagus, and artichokes is an Austrian white grape called Gruner Veltliner. Its naturally high acidity and citrus-based flavors make it very versatile. For more traditional salads, stick with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley or New Zealand. Cheesy, creamy dips would stand up to a full-bodied, New World Chardonnay for whites. For reds, think bolder and more robust, such as Spanish Tempranillo or Monastrell (Mourvedre).
These match surprisingly well with Champagne—but then again, Champagne goes with everything. The bubbles cut through both the saltiness and oiliness, and refresh your palate. No funds for Champagne? No problem. Choose a Spanish cava, French Cremant d’Alsace or a sparking wine from the Loire Valley, and you can get fantastic bubbles for under $15.
This depends on the toppings. Mushrooms deserve and earthy Pinot Noir, while tomato sauce is a traditional Italian staple, thus begging for a Chianti. A meat lover’s pizza can warrant big, bold wines, such as Sonoma County Zinfandel, Central Coast Syrah, or a French Cotes-du-Rhone.
For chicken wings
If mildly flavored, chicken wings pair nicely with French Cotes-du-Rhone, which is almost always a blend usually made with one of more of these varietals: Syrah, Grenache, and Carignan. Spicy buffalo wings would overpower many reds, yet an off-dry Riesling will not only cut through the spiciness, but also refresh the palate. None in sight? Sparking wine would save the day in this case, too.
For barbecue and burgers
These call for full-out boldness and lavishness of flavor —think hearty Zinfandel, Australian Shiraz, or California Petite Sirah for grilled fare and ribs, and a classic Napa Cabernet or Bordeaux for medium-rare burgers.
For everything else…
Throw caution to the wind, forget convention, buy a mix of wines on budget, and enjoy the game. Try sparking with everything, try reds with chips and cheeses, and sip some whites with chili or wings. It’s your party, after all.