The 53rd annual Super Bowl looms on the horizon like another government shutdown, and with just as much drama. New Orleans fans are livid over a blown pass interference call and the rest of the country — unless you’re from New England — seems a bit cynical about the Patriots making yet another appearance in the Big Game.
Me? Well, I think the Super Bowl is a super excuse to get together with friends and family and eat copious amounts of food, drink great wines and, of course, watch the highly entertaining commercials with equal anticipation.
Abundant amounts of food of every type — from pizza and chicken wings to smoked brisket and barbecued ribs — will certainly be consumed while watching the Super Bowl. The choice of which beverages to serve can be a challenge.
Most households will probably stock up on beer. Make no mistake — I like beer, and I know that the party beverage of choice for most traditional Super Bowl get-togethers comes from the realm of finely crafted brews. Just look at all of the money mega-brewers spend on advertising during the Big Game and its clear they know the day belongs to them. But this year, I plan to pair our Super Bowl treats with super wines for a more upscale affair. Of course, we’ll take a timeout during breaks to enjoy the beer commercials.
We’re kicking off our Super Bowl with a super bowl of guacamole. Yes, you can pair wine with this popular dip. While the avocado provides richness and the spices add heat, it’s the acidity from the lime juice that I want to play off of. While the crisp acidity found in Sauvignon Blanc would be a good choice, I think the addition of palate-cleansing bubbles is the way to go. I plan to dip my chips with the Non-Vintage Segura Viudas Cava Brut Reserva Heredad from Spain. Its tight bubbles shout “party” and spread the lively notes of fresh pineapple, roasted nuts and ripe pear flavor over the whole tongue. The bright acidity keeps the hints of baked bread bright and light on the crisp finish. And the bubbles keep the palate fresh and ready for the next scoop of guacamole. $25
If your plans include rooting for the Patriots, you may want to show your pride by serving New England clam chowder. I like to pair it with a wine that can cut through the rich, creamy broth while playing well with the morsels of bivalves. The 2016 Pasqua Romeo & Juliet Passionesentimento Bianco IGT, from Veneto, Italy, is believed to be the only dry white wine created by a Veneto producer using the appassimento process, in which the Garganega grapes are hand-picked, then dried for around 15 days before they are crushed, vinified and partially aged in French oak barrels for a few months. This process concentrates the notes of citrus and the flavors of nectarine, apricot and peach while keeping the body full, creamy and round. A touch of crisp apple and bright acidity keeps the palate refreshed between spoonfuls of soup. $16
Los Angeles Rams fans can consider putting tri-tip steak sandwiches — a favorite of mine while growing up in California — on the menu. The barbecued beef is sliced razor-thin, then piled high on a crusty French bread roll and slathered with sautéed onions and tangy barbecue sauce. This California classic will definitely need a California wine to rope in all of the flavors, such as the aptly named 2016 Jamieson Ranch Vineyards Double Lariat Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley. Blended from grapes grown in selected lots from vineyards located in Howell Mountain, Rutherford and Atlas Peak appellations, this full-bodied red is bursting with aromas of dark cherry, bramble and sage on the nose, followed by rich flavors of blackberry, cassis and dark plum on the palate. Notes of vanilla and toasty oak glide in on the supple, long finish. $50
My personal favorite gameday fare is baby back ribs, and the recipe I plan to use will incorporate a touch of heat in the rub and sweet in the sauce, so I will need a wine that can do double duty. The Super Bowl is a duel between two powerful teams, and the 2015 The Federalist Dueling Pistols from Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma, California is a duel between two powerful varietals — zinfandel and syrah. Aromas of dark cherry and violets fill the nose. In the mouth, zinfandel contributes juicy red cherry and red berry notes while the syrah provides structure and hearty flavors of blackberry and mocha. The peppery, powerful finish will be a perfect partner with the ribs. $35