This was originally posted on Thursday, January 31st, 2008
With the Super Bowl right around the corner many of us are in the process of planning a party. While most fans don’t really have a dog in this race any more, we still all crowd around the television like this is a life or death event, and for some of the advertisers who often provide the best part of the entertainment, it just might be.
But for those of us who are hosting one of these gatherings around the tube the question of what to serve to our families and friends is a more pressing issue. If the food is to be more of a dinner type menu then it is a matter of matching the drinks to the menu as one would normally do. However, most Super Bowl parties tend to feature a different type of fare. Finger foods, spicy foods, sandwiches featuring a variety of cheeses, condiments, and meats are much more typical.
When we think of what to pair with foods of this sort the first thing that comes to mind is beer. While that is definitely a great choice for such a menu, not everyone likes beer, and wine is quickly becoming the choice of more and more people as an everyday drink. So, what wines goes well with such a menu?
The first thing that comes to mind is Champagne. Typically, if a food goes well with beer, it will pair spectacularly with Champagne. However, this isn’t really a practical suggestion due to the cost. Spanish Cava and Italian Moscato d’Asti make for excellent and affordable alternatives. Cava will give your guests a more traditional champagne experience, and the Moscato d’Asti will pair very well with spicy food due to its sweetness and low alcohol content.
Another good choice is to make pitchers of Sangria. There are many variations available that can be tailored to your tastes and menu. Like the Moscato, it is low in alcohol and sweet enough to pair well with a spicy and varied menu. An added bonus is that the additions of fruit juice, soda, etc. all help stretch your budget and wine.
If your wallet or cellar allows, one of the more fun options is to open a variety of bottles and let your guests mix and match in any way they choose. Any big fruit forward wines will do the trick. The food for a party like this doesn’t tend to be very subtle, and there is no reason the wine should be either. Use your imagination. How would a big jammy Zinfandel pair with a sugary, salty baked ham? Think of how the brown spice notes of the wine mirrors the very same spices in the glaze on the ham. With such a variety of food and wine you are bound to find great new pairings you won’t find in any book.
The main things to keep in mind are that hot spices are greatly enhanced by high alcohol, spices and sauces should be considered more when pairing than the meat itself, and most importantly, the party is about getting together with friends and watching the game (or the commercials) and that is where your focus should be. Have a good time and good luck to whichever team you root for.