I’ll begin by pausing for a moment to acknowledge that Texas does not have an NFL team going to the Super Bowl, and that is something that deeply saddens my native Texan soul. What I won’t do is wade into controversy and mention that one particularly contentious call (AKA “the play”) during the Dallas Cowboys vs. Green Bay Packers game on January 11.
Oops. I guess I just did.
Well, at least I got that out of my system. Moving right along, let’s now look forward to February 1st when the New England Patriots will take on the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl. In a state where Friday night football is a sacrosanct mass ritual, even when there isn’t any Texas pigskin on the field, we will make do with a lively contest between two fierce rivals. Thus, Texans far and wide are already making plans for their Super Bowl party spread.
Like most people, when I think “watch party,” I think beer. I might be a wine lover, but I absolutely agree that beer is a great choice for a Super Bowl party beverage, particularly since Texas has some great breweries, old and new: Shiner Bock, Saint Arnold, Southern Star Brewing, and Jester King Brewery come to mind. The nice thing about beer is that it can be very food-friendly because a beer that is slightly sweet and malty calms the typically spicy-hot profile of most game-day favorites.
But what if you just really love wine, and you want to offer up some Texas wine with your game-day food? Here are three classic game day dishes, and a few suggestions for how to pair them with a wine so that neither the dish nor the wine suffer in the process.
- Velveeta® and Ro*Tel®. You know it, you love it. Who doesn’t get just a little excited when they see that big crockpot of warm, gooey queso with a big bowl of tortilla chips? This is practically the national appetizer of Texas. The challenge here is that you’ve got a full-bodied cheese with extra acid and a bit of heat thrown in. Think of fruity, hefty wines that can stand up to all that saltiness and spice without going tannic and harsh, such as a Merlot. Some possible choices here are Llano Estacado Sweet Red, Fall Creek Vineyards Merlot, and Kiepersol Merlot.
- Buffalo Wings and Blue Cheese Dip. Whether you make them yourself or just buy them in bulk at the supermarket, Buffalo wings are another universal game-watching snack. Now, this is a challenge because you’ve got a hot, tangy sauce, savory meat, and also a sharp and creamy dip. In a case like this, instinctively, I would reach for a Riesling since it is an infamous shape-shifter when it comes to pairings, but a semi-sweet blend or blush would work nicely, too. Think about Enoch’s Stomp Blanc Du Bois, Messina Hof Chenin Blanc, or Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards Pinky Tuscandero.
- Here’s where I might venture into controversy again because while I’m pretty confident that most Super Bowl parties will feature queso and wings, after that, things get a little murky. It depends on the level of cook and the time she or he wants to invest in preparation—there might be pork sliders, pizza, or even artichoke dip. But since the words “chili” and “Texas” go together like Batman and Robin, I think I’ll have to make Texas Chili my third and final pairing. Again, I come back to suggesting a sweet, malty beer like Lakewood Lager, but if you’re determined to find the right wine for your chili, think in terms of balancing the heat and spice instead of adding to it. A classic Rioja-style wine might do nicely, and fortunately Tempranillo thrives in Texas and has been putting our state on the map in international wine competitions. We had a whole slew of fantastic Texas Tempranillos at our Battle of the Texas Tempranillos back in November, but to rattle off a few you might be able to readily put your hands on, Pedernales Cellars, Duchman Winery, and Haak Vineyards & Winery all make excellent Tempranillos.
There you have it—my Texas wine and Super Bowl food pre-game analysis. The wines I mention here are usually available at your finer wine and spirit retailers, such as Spec’s and Total Wine & More, so it should be fairly easy to find them. If you put some strategy behind your wine and food pairings, you won’t fumble the ball, and you’ll score a touchdown with your guests.