It’s official. The USDA says Super Bowl Sunday is the second-biggest day for pigging out, after only Thanksgiving.
So it’s time for my annual rant that bold, hearty wine is a far better match than wimpy light beer for the snacks that go with watching 400-pound linemen pummel each other for 60 minutes.
Now, compared to Thanksgiving dinner, Super Bowl snacks tend to be more, shall we say, unsubtle, with fiery Buffalo wings replacing white meat turkey and jalapeño-laced cheese dip in place of antioxidant-packed cranberries.
Super Bowl Sunday is for those fat-laden, salty, crunchy, cholesterol-packed snacks that some might call junk food, but we football fanaticals call it comfort food as we paint our faces in team colors and settle down on the couch. So it’s up to us wine fans to demonstrate that our regal beverage can handle a pepperoni pizza just as well as a platter of poulet bonne femme.
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Let’s consider some popular Super Bowl munchies to make our point:
▪ Spicy Buffalo wings, probably the quintessential Super Bowl treat, would be great with off-dry white riesling, under the rule that sweetness soothes spice.
2012 Kennedy Shah Reserve Riesling, by The Woodhouse Wine Estates, Yakima Valley, Wash.; floral aromas, lightly sweet flavors of peaches and minerals; $25.
▪ Five-alarm beef-and-bean chili calls for hearty, fruity red zinfandel, which has the spiciness to stand up to the heat.
2012 Edmeades Zinfandel, Piffero Vineyard, Mendocino Ridge: aromas and flavors of sweet black cherries and spice, smooth, long finish; $31.
▪ The salty crunch brigade – peanuts, potato chips, Cheetos, trail mix, tortilla chips cry out for the ice-cold, bubbly, inexpensive Italian sparkling wine called prosecco.
Nonvintage La Marca Prosecco DOC, Veneto, Italy: floral aroma, softly bubbly, flavors of limes and green melons; $17.
▪ Guacamole and creamy dips, from bleu cheese to onion to artichoke, are rich enough to match a big, buttery California chardonnay.
2013 Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast: toasty oak aromas, rich, full-bodied, with aromas and flavors of ripe pineapples; $25.
▪ Tomato salsa with red onion, cilantro, jalapeños and such have a spicy tang that is nicely matched by a fruity, dry rosé wine.
2013 J Vin Gris Rosé Wine, Russian River Valley: floral aromas, crisp, flavors of ripe strawberries; $20.
▪ Hot dogs, meatball subs, 6-foot-long deli sandwiches and muffulettas call for a soft, fruity red wine such as Australian shiraz.
2012 Pillar Box Shiraz, by Henry’s Drive Vignerons, Padthaway, Australia: floral aromas, flavors of black plums and milk chocolate, soft and fruity; $22.
▪ Bacon-wrapped mini-sausages, meat balls and such need a light red wine such as Chianti.
2012 Folonari Chianti DOCG, Veneto (sangiovese): crisp, light and lively, with tart cherry flavors; $18
▪ Brownies, chocolate cookies, chocolate cake call for a counterintuitive but splendid match with cabernet sauvignon. Honest.
2012 Marques de Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley, Chile: smoky oak aroma, flavors of black cherries and mocha, firm tannins; $25.
▪ Cupcakes: These aren’t very Super-Bowl-like, but, if you like them, make it a point to eat one this year. I predict that by next year the Cupcake Era will have gone out with a sugary crash, to be replaced by gourmet doughnuts or, even more likely, gourmet waffles. For all of these, a sweet moscato is ideal.
2012 Moscato Allegro, by Martin Weyrich, California: floral aromas, crisp, ripe peach flavors, lively acids; $12.