As the championship game of professional football looms large on the horizon, it’s nice to know that even a pandemic cannot stop the tradition of annual Super Bowl parties.
Several friends are opting to host a Super Bowl bash on Zoom and have asked me to suggest a few wines for all of us to open and virtually share while watching the game — and, of course, the commercials.
But since I don’t have a proverbial dog in this year’s contest (although I do have a secret favorite), I decided to select a few wines that pair well with a regional dish from each team’s hometown.
My plan is to offer up one wine that pairs with Tampa Bay cuisine and one that matches a dish that Kansas City is known for. Of course, there will be a “neutral” bottle for fans who just want to enjoy the game.
For Tampa Bay Fans
According to a friend of mine who grew up in Tampa Bay, the true Cuban sandwich was created in Tampa and is one of its iconic foods. A true Cuban is made with roast pork, ham, salami, Swiss cheese, mustard, and pickle slices on real Cuban bread and heated in a sandwich press.
The challenge is finding a wine that will play well with the rich pork, the creamy cheese and the tart pickles. I think the 2017 Lucien Albrecht Riesling Tradition from the Alsace region of France is up for just such a challenge.
The intense bouquet bursts with scents of white flowers, juicy stone fruits and wet stone. This extraordinarily easy-drinking wine emphasizes flavors of nectarine, white peach and melon highlighted by abundant acidity that will cut through the richness of the meat and cheese as well as tame the tart pickles. Citrus notes provide a tangy and refreshing finish. $20
For Kansas City Fans
If there is one thing Kansas City is known for in the culinary world, it’s barbecue. The city even hosts an annual world-renown competition called the American Royal, which includes The World Series of Barbecue, the largest barbecue contest in the world.
My personal favorite is barbecued ribs. I think this wine will be the perfect moving buddy.
My own version of barbecue ribs uses a spicy rub and a sweet-and-heat mop (sauce), so I need a really big, spicy, red zinfandel whose red fruit flavors can enhance the underlying richness of the ribs while the bold tannins can stand up to the natural acidity of the sauce.
The 2017 Carol Shelton ‘Wild Thing’ Cox Vineyard Old Vine Zinfandel from Mendocino County, California is a remarkably complex and delicious wine for the money.
This is a big, juicy wine that features loads of black cherry, dark plum and boysenberry flavors on the well-balanced frame. Notes of black pepper and baking spices come through loud and clear on the lush, spicy finish. $18
For Those Who Want To Remain Neutral
If you can’t decide who to root for, and you’re serving Nachos, then open something fun, festive and versatile.
A sparkling white wine, like the Non-Vintage Juve y Camps Riserva de la Familia Brut from the Penedes region of Spain offers notes of white flowers and toasted bread on the nose.
Flavors of green apple and nectarine fruit dominate in the mouth and are beautifully balanced by bracing acidity. The bright little bubbles provide a palate-cleansing crisp finish that complement the salty, spicy, cheesy nacho components. $16
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