Gameday Toast

Wine to Pair With Your Football Feast

February 9, 2022

Break out your Sunday best. The Big Game is almost here, which means primetime snacking at its finest. Although beer might seem like the natural drink of choice to enjoy while cheering on your team, your game-day spread will taste even better — and feel a little lighter — paired with a side of bubbly or glass of Cab Sauv.

In celebration of the Big Game being hosted right here in California, we’re sharing Napa Valley wines that will be MVPs — most valuable pairings — for your fried food feast, grazing station, or pizza extravaganza.

Light Fare Pairings

On this legendary day of snacking, filling up before kickoff is simply not an option. Settle into the game’s first quarter with light fare and even lighter wine. If your grazing go-tos are classics, like regular potato chips and buttered popcorn, a glass of bubbly is a great way to start. A high-acidity sparkling wine cuts through the salt and fat of these crowd-pleasing snacks while the bubbles act as a palate cleanser between every handful. Chandon’s Étoile Brut is the ultimate, opulent cuvée to sip—play after play, crunch after crunch.

Sour cream & onion fans will find a pairing to root for in a creamy white like a chardonnay — one of Napa Valley’s most famous grapes. The 2019 Unoaked Chardonnay Napa Valley from Robert Mondavi Winery offers ripe peach and green apple flavors, with hints of lemon peel and minerality. For something more tropical, the 2020 Flora’s Legacy Chardonnay boasts the same velvety mouthfeel with aromas and flavors of pineapple, guava, and papaya.  

An overflowing bowl of sweet and smoky barbecue chips is a natural match for the bright red fruit flavors of the spicy 2016 Zinfandel from Grgich Hills Estate or the light Charles Krug Carneros Pinot Noir. And if you can’t resist the temptation of intensely tangy salt and vinegar chips, you’ll find a new favorite in the Cakebread Cellars 2020 Sauvignon Blanc. It’s the perfect acid-meets-acid duo.

Game Day Favorite Pairings

Chances are, you’ll come face-to-plate with one of these game-day menu mainstays. Generally, sparkling wine makes a winning pairing with most deep-fried foods — from french fries to spring rolls. However, if you prefer to keep it simple with a one-wine-fits-all, you can’t go wrong with V. Sattui 2017 Prestige Cuvée.

What’s more decadent than crispy bites of fried cheese? The Charles Krug 2018 Limited Release Cabernet Franc — a complex wine with notes of dried blueberry and tobacco — breaks through the richness of the mozza sticks. Plus, its higher acidity and slight pepperiness create a similar effect as the marinara sauce you’d typically serve on the side. If you love Cabernet Franc, just about any of your favorite cold-weather comfort foods (think chili, meatballs, or anything grilled) will taste even better alongside a glass of its parent grape, like any of Beringer’s dozens of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons

The crisp citrus notes of a Sauv Blanc stand up well to the lime in your favorite tortilla chips and fresh guacamole. It’s also great for cutting the grease of a fried chicken. Cabernet fans will love the full-bodied Louis M. Martini Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, bursting with white nectarine, honeydew melon, and pink grapefruit custard. For those keeping things light with an assortment of veggies and classic hummus for dipping, try a dry rosé like the light and bright V. Sattui 2020 Rosato di Pinot Noir.

Chicken Wing Pairings

This game-day favorite is so popular it deserves its own category. Chicken wings are a blank canvas for mouthwatering game-day flavors, and when it comes to highlight-worthy wine pairings, it’s a balancing act. If you’re interested in eats measured on the Scoville scale, you’ll know that one of the best ways to neutralize heat is with something sweet. For sizzling, spicy wings slathered in Buffalo sauce, a glass of fruity, off-dry Riesling or Moscato will complement the buttery spice. Try the 2019 V. Sattui Dry Riesling or the 2019 Moscato d’Oro Napa Valle from Robert Mondavi Winery, bursting with honeysuckle, crushed pineapple, and zesty clementine.

For the big, bold flavors of BBQ, you’ll want a wine that can hold its own. Whether you’re tossing your wings in a tangy mustard sauce from South Carolina, whipping up a vinegar-based North Carolina sauce, or opting for a thick and sweet Kansas City-style sauce, a bright-pink medium-to-full-bodied Rosato like the 2020 Rosato from Castello di Amorosa will match the intensity of each bite.

The world of wings doesn’t stop at spicy. For the sweet and savory punch packed by honey garlic sauce, there’s nothing like a sparkling rosé to cut through the heaviness. Try the award-winning Brut Rosé from Chandon for aromas of fresh strawberry, watermelon, and cherry. 

Pizza Pairings

It’s been reported that on this weekend, Americans devour about 12.5 million pizzas — and that doesn’t include those tossing dough at home. Pizza and wine are made for each other, and when it comes to the perfect pairing for your pie, the options are as endless as the topping possibilities.

For a classic pepperoni pizza, an intense wine like a Sangiovese provides the perfect counterbalance for the fattiness and spiciness of the pepperoni. A bottle of 2019 Sangiovese Napa Valley from Consentino offers aromas of bright red cherry and jammy strawberry with savory dried herb, oak toast, vanilla, and cigar box spice on the palate. Meat lovers will want to reach for a bolder red wine like a Syrah that goes head-to-head with rich bacon and sausage spices. The dark fruit flavors of the 2016 Napa Valley Syrah from Sequoia Grove Winery will score serious points alongside any heavier slice.

Margherita, anyone? Fragrant basil and fresh mozzarella call for a crisp pinot grigio that won’t overwhelm the delicate flavors of these simple ingredients. It’s the perfect opportunity to uncork the 2019 Cold Creek Pinot Grigio, with notes of pear, ripe melon, and starfruit.

Discover More Perfect Pairings Aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train

Napa Valley wines always seem to taste better where they’re grown. So sip and sample new favorites on a Napa Valley Wine Train experience and make your next game-watching pairings your best yet.

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