Thursday, October 2, 2014

Wines for Those NFL Games

By Liza B. Zimmerman

While many football lovers focus on beer during the games, I am happy to say that there are also some lovely wines that will work with those nachos and guacamole and your home-team rivalries.

Let’s start with anything you might enjoy drinking in New Orleans to support the Saints. As one of my favorite American cities is pretty much an anything goes place for animal fat—whether it is assorted grilled pig at classic destinations such as Cochon or barbequed alligator out in Cajun Country—we can certainly pair some wines to match some of these dishes.

Hearty red wines with some tannin structure will be divine with those types of food, and Gumbo while you are thinking of it. Some of the bigger, meatier Zins from hot climate growing areas like Amador County in California work beautifully with big meat dishes. Sobon Estate’s Zinfandel is well balanced and a bargain.

For the 49ers and the Jets
There are many great wines in my adoptive town of San Francisco and my hometown of New York (we’ll cut New Jersey a break and pretend it is part of the New York Metro as the state has lovely beaches and great Portuguhese food).

For the 49ers I would probably celebrate any potential win with some local Pinot Noir. Choices could run from intense, fruit-rich Sonoma Coast choices or a few gems from Mendocino. Another choice might be allocated wines, such as the Roar “Sierra Mar” Pinot Noir made from fruit in Santa Lucia, midway down the coast between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

To support the Jets, New Yorkers can drink almost anything they enjoy. It was once reported that former President Nixon only drank wines from New Jersey. I can also say that I have had a handful of good wines from the state, including a sparkling and a Riesling.

Given that the cool weather will probably descend on New York and its fans this fall, I would vote for big, structured reds to support the home team. These wines might include Italian Amarones, ideally with food; or rowdy blends from Washington State. Some of the state’s Syrahs, as well as their Rhône and Bordeaux blends, have been literary knocking it out of the ballpark.

No matter what team you are routing for, drink what you love and what reminds you of the players you support and where they are based. Unlike the NFL games, wine pairing and celebrating with your guests has no rules.

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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