Saturday, January 25, 2014

Wines for the Superbowl

By Liza B. Zimmerman

While I have done complex wine tastings during the Superbowl with some geeky friends, most people would prefer easy-drinking wines that crowd pleasers. And no you don’t have to have beer when you watch the game, particularly if it is one of those generic light brands.

Approachable wines generally have intense fruit profiles and aren’t too tannic. This is not the time to breakout those ten-year-old Cabernet Sauvignons to see if they have mellowed. This is a good excuse to drink fruit chewy wines like Zinfandel and food-friendly Pinot Noirs. What is more both go well with hamburgers, hot dogs and party food like piles of nachos and guacamole. 

The Ramsay “North Coast,” Pinot Noir 2009 has that fruit-laden palate. For a spurge the Freeman winery Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2010 is going to have all that wild, rich intensity that Sonoma Coast fruit tends to bring to the game. While I love Red Burgundy and Oregon Pinot, I would save them for another day. Sobon Estate “Hillside” Amador Country Zinfandel 2011 from the Foothills is a crowd pleaser and a bargain at $12.99. It was one of our go-to wines when I taught at the now-defunct Copia wine school and museum in Napa. 

Carménère, which hails from Bordeaux and is grown in Chile, also has a lively, juicy profile that can stand up to fun and indulgent game day foods. Your white wine fans may want to feast on a cheese spread (don’t forget the Marcona almonds and membrillo: quince paste). Slightly off-dry white are always great with almost anything but the most intense and super-stinky cheese. The Aresti “Estate Selection” Gewurztraminer 2012 might be a good choice, given its stone fruit flavors. Pinot Gris, such as Maculan “Pino & Toi” 2012 would also be good choices. 

One for the Home Team (s)
Since my hometeam (the 49ers) didn’t make the cut, I will spare you the California wine suggestions. If you are a Seahawks fan, there’s plenty of good stuff to drink to support your home state. Syrah is one of Walla Walla’s best grapes and the fruit and herbal flavors of the Tertulia Cellars “Redd Brand,” Syrah 2009 is a good example. Seven Hills Riesling 2008, from the Columbia Valley would also be great with cheese and to start the day off. 

If you are a Broncos fan, your state does produce wine (although it is perhaps justifiably better known for its beer). Many of them are clustered around the Denver area. According to the Colorado Wine, the state is home to more than 100 wineries, most of them small and family owned. However few of them are available outside of the state. Large stores, such as Applejack Wine & Spirits, would be good places to look for them (or call the wineries directly and see if they can ship to your homestate).

Last but not least, let’s give it up for New Jersey, where the game will take place. This state is not known as fine wine production center but there are a handful of good producers. It was rumored that former President Nixon only drank wines from New Jersey, although no one has been able to confirm it. I had some really lovely Reislings from Alba vineyard. They were one of the many producers pouring wine at the Reisling Rendevous hosted by Chateau Ste. Michelle in and around Seattle last year. 

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Liza Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about wine and food for two decades. She is principal of the San Francisco-based Liza the Wine Chick wine writing, education and consulting firm. She has worked on staff and freelance at national magazines such as Wine Enthusiast, The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana, Wine Spectator, Where SF and the Examiner. She currently contributes to Cheers, Wine Business Monthly and the Examiner, among others. 

Zimmerman focuses on demystifying wine and transforming it into a tool for business and networking for companies all over the country. Past clients include Genentech, Roche and IBM. 

She has visited all the world’s major wine regions and is one of select few in the U.S. to hold the Diploma of Wine & Spirits (D.W.S.), the three-year precursor to the Master of Wine.

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