As the NFL playoffs continue you will no doubt be spending a lot of time in front of the screen—or perhaps in a frigid parking lot tailgating—and eating a lot of party food. We’re here to tell you beer does not have a monopoly on sporting events; if you usually drink wine with your meals there is no reason to sacrifice your style just because there’s a game on. There are a lot of good options for crowd-pleasing foods that don’t require sitting at the table, including wings, ribs, pizza, quesadillas and sliders, and there are equally as many choices for good wines to go with them.
There should always be Champagne on hand; you’re going to need it for winning moments, whether it’s a field goal in overtime, your team making a deep run in the playoffs or hitting it big in the office football pool. Champagne also goes great with fried chicken or just about anything with cheese, like potato skins, artichoke dip or quesadillas. Lower and moderate tannin reds like Merlot or Garnacha pair well with spicy choices such as chili, pulled pork, pepperoni pizza or tacos, while Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo are better suited to ribs, sliders and sliced steak sandwiches. With the right wine on hand, your game day party is sure to be a winner regardless of the outcome of the game. Here are our picks to elevate your game day pour.
Nickel & Nickel 2019 John C. Sullenger Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville Napa Valley
Notes of saddle leather, dried herbs and ripe black fruits lead you into voluptuous flavors of black plum, dark cherry and cassis. This wine has well rounded tannins, balanced acidity and a persistent finish. Drink now or over the next 15 years.
Jeeper La Grande 2008 Cuvée Millesime Brut Champagne France
Co-owner Tony Parker is better known for basketball than for football, but he understands the pressures of playoffs and works with his partners and team to create a winning Champagne. Straw colored with persistent perlage in the glass, this elegant Champagne has aromas of freshly baked brioche and Granny Smith green apple. In the mouth there are flavors of ripe stone fruits and flaky pie crust. It is well balanced with a crisp, clean finish.
Vérité 2018 La Muse Sonoma County
In the glass La Muse is ruby-garnet colored with a purple rim. It is composed of 90 percent Merlot and the balance Cabernet Franc and Malbec. It has heady aromas of black raspberry jam, red plum and saddle leather. There’s a seamless transition to the palate with ripe fruit flavors and touches of flint, mocha and tobacco leaf. The tannins are pleasantly grippy with balanced acidity. Drink now or over the next 20 years.
Familia Torres 2018 Mas de la Rosa Reserva Priorat Spain
Grapes for this voluptuous wine are grown in a single vineyard in the village of Porrera in Spain’s Priorat region. It has aromas of black cherry, raspberry jam and butterscotch candy. In the mouth it has luxurious tannins and flavors of Mission fig, cherry, caramel and licorice. The finish is long lasting with notes of orange zest.
Vizcarra Torralvo 2019 Ribera Del Duero Spain
This stunning wine from Ribera Del Duero is comprised of 100 percent Tempranillo sourced from vines ranging in age from 27 to 72 years old. It is aged in French oak for 18 months and has enticing aromas of black raspberry and red currant. It has smooth tannins and flavors of ripe black plum and cassis. Only 5,000 bottles are made each year, so don’t hesitate.
Far Niente 2019 Estate Bottled Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville Napa Valley
Far Niente was established in 1885 making it one of the oldest wineries in the state. This gorgeous estate bottled Cab has aromas of blueberry, cherry vanilla and mocha. In the mouth the tannins are soft and rounded and very well integrated which help to showcase luscious flavors of ripe red plum and black berry.
Bodegas Valdemar 2011 Conde De Valdemar Gran Reserva Rioja Spain
Garnet colored in the glass with a touch of violet at the rim, this delicious Tempranillo based wine from Rioja has aromas of ripe red and black fruits, cigar box and a whiff of balsam pine trees after a rainfall. In the mouth it is well balanced with fine tannins, bold fruit flavors and a hint of tobacco leaf. The finish goes on and on.
Gamble Family Vineyards 2016 Paramount Napa Valley
If you’re gambling on the game, Gamble Paramount is a safe bet you’re sure to enjoy. It’s a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot and has aromas of dried Mission figs, black raspberry and Blackstrap molasses. On the palate there are luscious fruit flavors intertwined with hints of dark chocolate and dried herbs. There are only 1,210 cases produced so don’t wait. It’s drinking very well right now but don’t hesitate to hold it for 10 years or so.
Ehlers Estate 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon St. Helena Napa Valley
This unfined, unfiltered wine is a blend of 89 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 11 percent Cabernet Franc. It is deep purple in the glass with aromas of dark fruits, wet river rocks and cigar box. In the mouth it is full bodied with firm tannic structure and balanced acidity with flavors of brown baking spices, blackberry jam, coffee and chocolate. Drink now or over the next 15 years.
Alfred Gratien NV Brut Rosé Champagne France
This opulent rosé Champagne is brilliant salmon colored in the glass with persistent perlage. It has aromas of rose petal, strawberry, red raspberry and freshly baked brioche. In the mouth it is crisp and clean with flavors of mixed red fruits and raspberry pie. It is well balanced with a light tannic structure and ripe fruit freshness with just a touch of smoke in the post palate.