Saturday, February 5, 2011

Super Bowl Wines

We have pigskin picks to vinify your Super Sunday, but first a few food facts. Just two days after Go Red For Women, the American Heart Association's campaign to raise awareness about women and heart disease comes XLV, the super-snackdown day of the year. 
Incredibly, the amount of food Americans will tackle this Super Bowl Sunday may gut-bust Thanksgiving Day, the defending pig-out champion. The average fan is set to scarf 1,200 calories and 50 grams of fat from game day snacking alone – and that doesn't include any regular meals. Unless you plan to walk around a football field for three hours, no amount of fist-pumping and jump-up cheering is going to burn off those calories. Backfield in motion, baby, and bring out the tape. Or, as comedienne Elaine Boosler would say, why not just rub all that stuff right into your thighs?

Worse perhaps is that so many bowl day foods are close to awful. Can we get a holding foul here? Burgers, fried funkitude and chip-dip combos that scream out for an aspirin-nitro-statin garnish hardly seem worth the angina – or agita either, for the Italians out there. I mean, if you're gonna Hail Mary, doesn't a nice plate of lasagna or a juicy rib-eye off the grill sound more appealing than something that stinks of cilantro or singes your palate? Yuck.   

Bottom line is that many Super Bowl food flavors + wine = false start. Chili, thick dips and weighty or fried foods are hard hits for lighter reds and oaked Chardonnays. In the red zone, Cabernet tannins come across as too harsh when combined with super salty foods. Even bigger or bolder reds such as Syrah or Zinfandel can get crushed in the pileup by four-alarm barbecue sauces or hotly spiced wings. 

Unfortunately, there aren't many takers for the alt idea of super Sunday: flip on the crockpot in the morning and uncork a favorite bottle over a real meal during halftime break. No worries about delay of game or missing the halftime show – odds are it'll be as lame as ever. Bah humbug. So with a shrug to mega-snacking as the official play of the day, here are wine picks sure to score big with the gang:

Riesling racks up huge yardage for how well it goes with a wide range of foods, especially spicy dishes, sausage, salads and smoked fish. Many Rieslings are low-alcohol too, to help keep guests safe and under-the-limit. Costco has a German Riesling now that's only 7.5%. Look for Dr L by Loosen Brothers in the tall, teal screw-cap bottle, around $10 at Dan's Wine Shop and Trader Joe's.

Box Wines
The space-saving eco-packaging by Octavin Home Wine Bar holds three liters, equal to four bottles of wine. With a convenient pour spout, these tasty, good quality wines will douse a couch-full of thirsty fans. Find them at Albertsons and Ralphs grocers, better still when they're on sale. Silver Birch Sauvignon Blanc is refreshing and balanced, without too much grassiness for game day foods. Kickoff reds worth a runback are the low-tannin Monthaven Cabernet Sauvignon (find the 2007 if you can) or Big House Red, sometimes also at Costco.

If you think real men don't drink pink, food-friendly rosé will rock your manly man's playbook. Go with New World rosés made from heartier red grapes instead of more delicate French and Provençal rosé styles. Give it a good chill and watch for conversions. Try screw-capped Tapiz Rosé of Malbec from Argentina (BevMo!), Barnard Griffin Rosé of Sangiovese from Oregon or Mulderbosch Rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon from South Africa (World Market Cost Plus).

Finally, if your heart beats for healthier Super Bowl recipes, score with the roasted red pepper dip and others here, more recipes and substitution ideas here and funny but real food safety tips from Uncle Sam here.

Coming soon: Not-so-grouchy picks for a romantic Valentine's Day

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