When I was younger, I spent many nights and afternoons at Shea Stadium with my grandfather, eating peanuts and pretzels and discussing the nuances of the game.
Since then, stadiums have become much fancier and the gastronomical experience has significantly improved. Beer was once limited to mass-marketed domestic brands, but now microbrews and artisanal imports can be found in every ballpark in the country. And if you would rather have wine, AT&T Park has a surprisingly large selection to accommodate a variety of tastes.
As you might imagine, most wine suppliers would kill to have even one of their wines poured at the stadium. Choosing which to serve at the various wine carts and bars is not the easiest job. In spite of the overwhelming selection, Sandie Filipiak, the director of concessions, takes great pains to make sure the park’s wine and food reflect the quality that we have become used to in the Bay Area.
Filipiak, who has been on the job for 19 years, had California wine carts custom-made over the offseason to convey more of a winery feeling. The carts are strewn throughout the ballpark with eight wines available, including Niebaum-Coppola’s Votre Sante Pinot Noir, 2010 ($10) and Cupcake Malbec, 2010 ($9.25) from Argentina, which has been a huge hit so far.
The Cantina Bar near O’Douls on the promenade level serves Chalone Pinot Noir, 2009 ($10), an easy-drinking selection from one of California’s most historic producers. Should you be a prosecco fan, look for the Magredo Prosecco, nonvintage ($10), a light and refreshing sparkler that is ideal for afternoon games. It can be found at the North Beach Café on the promenade level and Port Walk Pizza on the view level.
If you are lucky enough to get seats at Club Level and want a California chardonnay, check out Acacia Chardonnay, 2010 ($9.25) at the two main bars. Red-wine drinkers should try Cellar No. 8 Zinfandel, 2009 ($9.25).
From a food-pairing standpoint, the Crazy Crab’z crab sandwich is a fantastic match with a glass of Saint-Hilaire Blanquette de Limoux ($15) from the Languedoc.
Once again, the Field Club-level Wine Bar has some surprising selections. Besides the Madigan Cabernet Sauvignon ($12) I mentioned last year, the venue is now featuring Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs, 2007 ($16.50) one of my favorite California sparkling wines.
San Francisco is one of the nation’s leaders when it comes to all things gourmand. Garlic fries, which originated at Candlestick Park, are now served at Yankee Stadium. Perhaps this means other ballparks will take note and improve their beverage selection. If not, this gives all of us just one more reason to be proud of our city.