Super Bowl Party Pairings

Stop suffering through another beer-only Super Bowl party. Wine lovers, prepare to score.

Travis Hinkle, beverage director at Houston’s Pass & Provisions and die-hard Cowboys fan, has spent five years toiling in restaurants, building wine lists and studying for the insanely hard Court of Master Sommeliers test. Who better to tell you what wines go best with a 6-foot-Italian sub, nachos and wings? 

Guacamole>Campania White
Hinkle’s Take: Del Maguey Single Village Mezcals are magical with guacamole, but if you must do wine, try a fatter white from Campania, like Greco di Tufo, or a really ripe smaragd Grüner Veltliner from the Wachau region. You want enough alcohol to match the weight and texture of the avocado, but enough acidity to match the lime.

Italian Sub>Lambrusco
Hinkle’s Take: A good, dry Lambrusco is fantastic with cured meats, a surprisingly difficult pairing. But beware: There are oceans of lame Lambrusco produced every year. To ensure quality, pick up the affordable Cantina Medici Ermete Concerto. Like Champagne, it’s versatile with a wide range of hard-to-pair foods, and has racy acidity and terrific effervescence.

Hinkle’s Take: With the ground beef, cheese and ketchup, I love a juicy Grenache from Spain or Australia. I like to think of Grenache as warm-climate Pinot Noir, because it tends to show ripe, seductive red fruit, but with relatively higher alcohol and moderate, balanced acidity. It has the same versatility as Pinot Noir, but more appropriate for the classic American burger.

Hinkle’s Take: This one, for me, is a no-brainer. Aggressive tannins can make the sugar and acidity in tomato sauce taste metallic, so you want something that will tend toward low tannins and high acidity. Barbera from Piedmont in northwestern Italy is one of my favorites with pizza. 

Buffalo Wings>Riesling
Hinkle’s Take: Spice tends to make high-alcohol wines taste like rotgut vodka, so avoid these at all costs. At the risk of perpetuating the wine-pairing cliché, go with an off-dry Riesling. These wines are naturally low in alcohol, and their residual sugar helps tame spice. German examples from Mosel (look for Kabinett or Spätlese) will work nicely, but an American bottle where the fruit leads will prove even better. I adore Teutonic Wine Company’s Medici Vineyard Riesling from the Chehalem Mountains in Willamette Valley.

Hinkle’s Take: I have a soft spot for nachos, but let’s be honest, they tend to be the kitchen sink of Super Bowl foods. You want something really versatile, so I think rosé Champagne (or another sparkling wine made using the Champagne method) is the silver bullet here. A bigger example from Bouzy, like a Paul Bara, works nicely. For New World options, look to Soter Beacon Hill, or Argyle from Willamette Valley.

Beef Chili> Syrah
Hinkle’s Take: The same rules about spice mentioned for wings apply here as well. That being said, I’ve had great success with chili when matched with peppery, meaty Syrah. A plumper, bigger example from the Northern Rhône in France would work beautifully (Cornas anyone?), but I’ve also been really impressed by wines from the Elqui Valley in Chile. For one of the best values around, check out Falernia’s Reserva Syrah. Bonus: It’s just such a great eye-rolling bad/good joke to serve Chile with chili. Get it?

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