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2017-09-01 / Wine Notes

Gridiron Gastronomy

With Wines to Match
Robert D. Richards, CSW



Football season ramping up can mean only one thing, gastronomically speaking: tailgate food. While easy-sipping suds and craft beers often rule the day, there are plenty of reasons to pop open a bottle or two of wine to complement your football fare.

Although drinking wine out of red Solo cups may take a little getting used to (any port in a storm, right?), the flavor match of many wines to tailgate-food favorites is worth the sacrifice.

Gridiron grilling — hamburgers, hotdogs, sausages and ribs — remains the staple of pre-game chow, and these foods invite some delicious wine pairings. We pair wines not only to flavor but also to texture, and grilling gives us both. The crusty, grilled texture and caramelizing of barbecue sauces and marinades cry out for certain wines, and the American classic red Zinfandel tops the list.

Zinfandel provides a bold, peppery match that not only stands up to grilled meats but also enhances the flavor. Hamburgers also work well with Beaujolais and Merlot. If you add a slice of cheese to your burgers, try a Syrah. Ribs slathered in barbecue sauce also pair nicely with Syrah or its Australian counterpart Shiraz.

If wings are your thing, think about the rubs or sauces that coat the chicken. For instance, a Jamaican jerk rub works well with the spiciness of Gewürztraminer. For heavier and spicier fare like chili, try a Malbec or Syrah.

For brinier tailgaters, oysters do well with an unoaked Californian Chardonnay or a Chablis (from France, not the jug variety sometimes found in this country). Cocktail shrimp provide a nice match for Pinot Blanc or your favorite Chardonnay. Here’s a sampling of what’s available locally for your next fall football outing. •SCM


Mer Soleil Silver Unoaked Chardonnay
Santa Lucia Highlands 2013

(#39526, $21.99)
A crisp, floral wine from Monterrey, California, this Chardonnay might surprise your palate with hints of pear and Meyer lemon. Try it with oysters.

Eberle Zinfandel
Paso Robles 2013

(#47276, $26.99)
Made of grapes from three distinct vineyards, this wine shows notes of raspberry and oak. Goes well with barbecue fare.

Seghesio Zinfandel
Sonoma County 2014

(#74003, $21.99)
This wine is a perennial favorite among wine critics. The vintage is characterized by spicy notes, along with black pepper and berries.

Mollydooker “The Boxer”
Shiraz South Australia 2015

(#73270, $27.99)
This wine from Down Under exhibits notes of chocolate and berries with just a hint of anise and apricot.


Robert D. Richards, CSW, is a Certified Specialist of Wine through the Society of Wine Educators and has passed the first-level certification of the prestigious Court of Master Sommeliers.

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