Like many, I usually drink beer when I watch the Super Bowl. That is my beverage of choice when it comes to most sporting events, whether I’m at the stadium or watching at home. However, there are wines that go pretty well with the hodgepodge that is the Super Bowl smorgasbord, so there is no reason to be left behind during the big game.
Getting things rolling with chicken wings, celery and blue cheese dip, a low-alcohol or off-dry wine will help nullify the burn and even give your wings a little extra lift. German riesling, which has some residual sugar and is usually under 11 percent alcohol, is ideal. Reuscher-Haart’s 1-liter bottle of its 2011 Piesporter Riesling ($16), with its bright green apple and pear fruit, has both quantity and quality for Super Bowl contention.
As for nachos, we have to factor in the chips. When it comes to corn, a buttery yet well-balanced chardonnay strangely works. But the cheese, peppers and meat make it more complicated. I might go with a light and low-alcohol red wine. The one that comes to mind is the 2011 Haden Fig Pinot Noir, No. 52 ($20) from Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Spicy with rose petals and red berry fruit, and 12.5 percent alcohol, it is as versatile as it is refreshing.
When it comes to guacamole, try a Portuguese vinho verde. Usually these “green wines” are white, but if you can get your hands on the 2011 Muralhas de Monção Rosé ($10), be sure to grab two. Vivacious with pink grapefruit, watermelon and pomegranate seeds, it will stand up to peppers, hot sauce or cilantro and even give your guac some more zest.
Should you be feeling some hometown pride about the 49ers and decide to make cioppino, which seems to be getting local buzz at the moment, a full-bodied though not oaky or overly fruity white wine works best. Since it’s a seafood dish with a tomato base, you need a wine that has enough acid to work against the richness of some of the shellfish without creating too much acidity in your mouth. The 2011 Alois Lageder Pinot Bianco ($15) from Alto Adige in northeastern Italy would be my choice. Fragrant with honeysuckle and orange peel, it will accent the dish without adding competing flavors.
Besides knowing that I’m not heading to New Orleans, I don’t know where I’m watching the game, let alone what I’m going to drink. But isn’t it great to know that you can drink wine in the Bay Area while watching the roughest of sports without anyone thinking you’ve gone soft? And in my case, I can drink beer without the expectation that no matter what, I should have a glass of wine in hand.
Yes, it is good to live in San Francisco, and it will be even sweeter when we win our second championship of the past few months!
Some of these wines can be found through Arlington Wine & Spirits, Bi Rite, Solano Cellars, Vino! and The Wine Club.
Pamela S. Busch is a wine writer and educator who has owned several wine bars in San Francisco, including Hayes and Vine and CAV Wine Bar & Kitchen.