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Football & Wine: A Perfect Pairing

Happy February!

Tomorrow is the Super Bowl, also known as the Biggest Beer Holiday of the Year. More beer is consumed on Super Bowl Sunday than on any other day of the year, including St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, and Fourth of July.

But why beer?

Beer, and especially “cheap beer” such as Coors and Bud Light, projects the message that the drinkers are there to enjoy the game and maybe get a little bit tipsy. People watching the game don’t want to concentrate on the beverage they’re drinking and how well it pairs with the pizza, hot wings, and burgers they’re noshing on. Beer is cool and refreshing. It’s the “everyman’s” choice. And, for those of us who also enjoy the commercials, the Budweiser Clydesdales are always good value.

Wine gets largely forgotten on Super Bowl Sunday. Again, why?

Wine has this reputation for being “elitist” or “pretentious,” probably because there’s an association with Michelin-star restaurants where an impeccably dressed sommelier (usually an older British or French man) is looking down his nose at your butchered pronunciation of Puligny-Montrachet. I get stressed out just thinking about that situation, and I *am* a sommelier!

(By the way, it’s “Pool-EEN-yee mohn-rah-SHAY.”)

When was the last time you opened a bottle of wine, though? I bet for most of us (myself included), it was at home, it was a bottle you picked up at your neighborhood wine or grocery store, and it was to share with your friends or partner. Or you had a rough day at work and wanted a glass to decompress on your own. Either way, it was done in a relaxed setting, without fanfare. That’s how most wine is consumed. Did you pull out the proper glassware for the varietal and decant the wine for 45 minutes, monitoring the temperature and pairing the wine and food perfectly? I didn’t! I grabbed the bottle, twisted off the cap—yes, it was a screw-cap, and poured a couple glasses for my friend and me to enjoy while watching TV.

That’s how wine should be seen; it’s something to enjoy with friends and family, and while it can mark special occasions, there is no reason that those “special occasions” need to cause stress-sweats! Use wine to celebrate the biggest beer holiday of the year; tomorrow, I DARE YOU to bring wine to the Super Bowl party you go to!

A few tips on how to pair wine with the football game:

·         Bring light, slightly sweet whites, such as Washington State riesling (especially if you’re rooting for the Seahawks) or a sparkling wine like Spanish Cava, and big, jammy reds like Hahn Syrah or a Paso Robles Zinfandel. The whites will be excellent with salty, spicy foods like buffalo wings, and the reds pair incredibly well with pizza and burgers.

·        This is a perfect occasion to spend under $20/bottle. Don’t bring out your high-end wines for the Super Bowl! Everyone is getting together to focus on the game, not on the liquid in their cups.

·        Chill the wine (both the white *and* the red). You don’t have to partially freeze them, but have the wines in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving them. The fresh, cool temperature is part of the reason beer is a favorite during football games, since everyone gets riled up and, literally, heated. If you serve a tepid or room-temperature wine, no one will want it after screaming and hugging and jumping up and down.

·        Forget the stemware. If you serve wine in glasses at all, make sure they’re sturdy and stemless. You can even use juice tumblers for this (just this once!) or plastic cups. There is a time and place for appreciating the way the glass highlights the wine’s quality and releases the aromas, but this is not that time or place.

·        Remember that wine has roughly double the alcohol content of beer, and it doesn’t fill you up like beer does due to tons of carbonation. This means you will have more of an appetite for those delicious ribs and nachos, but you’ll also feel the alcohol quicker. Make sure you get home safely and don’t drink and drive!


As a native Coloradan, I have to say this: GO BRONCOS!

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