Food & Drink

Wine at a football tailgate party? You bet, but choose wisely

Wine? At a tailgate or football party? Alongside bloody marys, assorted other cocktails and the king of football beverages, beer?

I say there’s absolutely no reason not to include wine, and I’ve got a few theories as to why wines have become increasingly popular at football-related events.

For starters, there’s simply more (and better) food being served. Go to a football party at someone’s home or a tailgate party in the parking lot of a stadium at game day. The table full of chips and dips has expanded to include a sometimes massive spread of salads, carefully prepared side dishes and desserts.

That cool guy who fired up a hibachi and threw on some hot dogs? He’s been replaced by a master chef with a propane grill barbecuing any cut of beef, pork or chicken you like.

It’s clear that we’ve become much more sophisticated with our football dining habits, and that allows for more beverage options, including wine.

Second, there’s the evolution of the metrosexual. Those are the “in-touch-with-your-softer-side” men who aren’t afraid to wax their chest, put product in their hair, or see a chick-flick with their girlfriend or spouse.

While some guys are still perfectly content with a six-pack of beer and a bag of Doritos on game day, metrosexuals aren’t buying it. They avoid prepackaged foods and are more likely to have the occasional glass of wine rather than something out of an aluminum can – unless it’s a craft beer, of course.

And let’s not underestimate the increasing presence of women at these events. They, too, often prefer wine over beer as their drink of choice. That influences the selection of beverages that party hosts have to take into consideration.

So what’s the best wine to serve at these gatherings?

Because there are often so many different foods involved, it’s difficult to pin down the “perfect” wine. But parties of this kind usually involve pretty heady stuff; grilled brats with all of the condiments, homemade chili, pasta and potato salads, spicy buffalo wings, and nachos with jalapeño peppers are just a few things that come to mind.

That said, it might be best to serve a slightly sweeter white wine. You’ll find that a sweet wine will compete and contrast nicely with the spice and heat components of these foods, while a basic chardonnay or light- to medium-bodied red wine could be overwhelmed and rendered tasteless.

Riesling, Gewürztraminer, muscat and chenin blanc should make good choices, and even a white zinfandel (gasp) might be a consideration. Not only are these wines sometimes enjoyed by well-seasoned wine drinkers, they may be the only thing that occasional, sweet-wine drinkers will consume. That gives them broad appeal and makes them a solid addition to your next football party.

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