High-brow often collides with low-brow in the unlikeliest of places. This weekend, that meeting just might be at Super Bowl parties. In one hand, you could be cradling a stem glass filled with Napa Cab while your other hand rummages through a bag of chips or another appropriately greasy finger food. Why settle for soda or beer? Here are guidelines for properly pairing some wine varietals with various Game Day snacks.
Cabernet Sauvignon: Bold, aggressive flavors like cheddar or spice need a robust wine. For chips such as Doritos (any flavor, from Nacho Cheese to Cool Ranch), Ruffles Cheddar & Sour Cream or even tortilla chips dragged through a spicy grade of salsa, uncork a properly aged Cabernet. (Be sure to give it some air before kick-off, of course. You’ll be surprised how less tannic the mouthfeel and finish on the Cab is.)
Riesling: Chips with heavy doses of salt and vinegar can stand up to a sweet, full-bodied Riesling. The two might even square off and provide balance.
Pinot Noir: Whether it’s from Russian River or Languedoc, pino pairs well with earthier snacks, like Sun Chips.
Sparkling Wine/Champagne: Take the division of food classes to an extreme with a glass of Champagne or sparkling wine—with even the cheapest, original-quality potato chips you can find. Thin and greasy, they’ll introduce new flavors to your glass of bubbly.
Shiraz (Syrah): The black-pepper underbelly of a Shiraz, along with its juicy and ripe-fruit flavors, goes well with snacks like Chex Mix, pretzels and even roasted nuts.
Sauvignon Blanc: Tortilla chips with lime (or lemon) flavors are a great pairing with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc that introduces notes of gooseberry. The acidic nature of this wine and the lime and lemon flavors is a solid match.
With a little bit of forethought, wine drinkers need not relinquish their beverage of choice for America’s undeclared national holiday. Whether wineries start competing against Budweiser and other big-name beer brands for commercial time, though, has yet to be seen.