The Lay’s potato chips just navigated a sweep through the five-layer dip, and now you need some palate protection coverage from a refreshing alcoholic beverage. Beer seems like the obvious choice, but it’s too expected, so you reach for the wine instead. You scout the sidelines and see Champagne, Chardonnay, Tempranillo and Merlot ready for action – but you just don’t know what the right call is.
Sure, beer makes for the most obvious pairing choice as we close in on the most epic football day in America, a day that brings an even more epic spread of gut-busting snacks. But don’t let that scare you away from enjoying a glass of wine as Denver and Carolina square off. We think it makes for a fine choice, so today we’re sharing some of our favorite wine pairings to try alongside those gut-busting game day snacks.
Let’s start with the all-star in the snack lineup – the chicken wing. As we explained in our spicy food and wine pairing guide, big tannins and high alcohol wines can blitz a palate that’s already overwhelmed by spicy flavors. You’ll want something that cuts through the heat like a running back on a hot route.
The call: Regardless of whether you’re gobbling down hot buffalo wings, sweet teriyaki, or just plain battered and fried wings, your best bet is to pair up a crisp and refreshing white wine. We think Torrontés or an off-dry Riesling make wise picks.
Alternate play: A Brut Champagne might go nicely with just about any flavor variation thanks to its ability to slice through fat and scrub the palate with its bubbly texture.
You need a red wine with rich flavors, cleansing acidity, and low tannins to stand up to the robust and spicy flavors of chili.
The call: We’re drafting a Syrah for this one. New World or Old, it doesn’t matter too much varietal known for its lush fruit profile and notes of black pepper makes for a favorable matchup when lined up against mild-to-moderately spicy chili. If your chili is the five-alarm style, an off-dry white wine like Riesling, Viognier, or Moscato might work better to contrast against the excessive spice levels.
Alternate play: Some good choices include Tempranillo, Malbec, and Zinfandel.
The placekicker of the spread, potato chips, often overlooked but always appreciated.
The call: Try out some Champagne, or its second and third string replacements, Prosecco or Cava. Basically any type of bubbles go great with chips & dip thanks to the texture and high acidity which cuts right through the mix of spicy peppers, tomatoes and creamy cheese.
Alternate play: Any crisp, unoaked white wine like Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, or Pinot Grigio would saddle up nicely against the salty chips.
Like Brady and Edelman, or Montana and Rice, the combination of a richer California style Chardonnay and buttered popcorn is a perfect match.
The call: As Chardonnay sees a higher percent of malo-lactic fermentation it produces more of that distinct buttery flavor which pairs up nicely with the creamy, salty, toasted scents and flavors exploding from that bag of Orville Redenbacher.
Alternate play: If oaked up Chardonnay isn’t your thing, any sort of crisp, unoaked white wine should serve as a decent accompaniment.
You have a lot of flexibility with pizza, and your choice might depend more on the toppings you choose.
The call: Pizza brings acidic tomato sauce, fatty cheese, and savory crust. For plain cheese styles you can’t go wrong with a Barbera, which has enough acidity to cut through the fatty cheese and bright fruit to supplement the marinara. For spicy toppings like pepperoni and sausage or fresh veggies we’d recommend Zinfandel, Syrah, or Chianti.
Alternate play: Stick to juicy medium-bodied reds that aren’t tannic, like Cotes du Rhone, Grenache, or Merlot.
Whether you’re getting fancy with five year aged Gouda and triple creme, or going for a crowd favorite with spreadable Rondale, you’ll have plenty of choices when it comes to finding a good wine to match against.
The call: Strong flavors and hard cheeses match up best with bigger style wines like Cabernet Sauvignon while softer, milder cheeses prefer crisp whites like Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, or Champagne.
Alternate play: The type of wine you pick really depends on the cheese, and with so many options it’s best to call an audible depending on what you see. Refer to our handy cheese and wine pairing guide if you need more help.
You’ll want something high in acid and more concentrated in flavor to slice through fatty/salty layers of flavor.
The call: Anytime you see salty fried food, bubbles make for a wise decision.
Alternate play: From the white team pick Chenin Blanc or off-dry Riesling. On the red side a Châteauneuf-du-Pape works well.
Pigs in a Blanket
Everybody’s favorite finger food always deserves a spot in the game day menu.
The call: Rosé has ample acidity to cut through the fat, minerality to enhance the salty/savory meat core and the slight fruitiness pairs up well with a dip in ketchup.
Alternate play: A Gruner Veltliner also has nice acidity and minerality to elevate the savory flavors.
Spinach and Artichoke Dip
Artichokes are generally regarded as a tricky pairing partner in part because they contain a chemical called cynarin that makes everything taste sweeter.
The call: You need something bone-dry, with high acidity, and no oak. Sauvignon Blanc comes to mind as a solid choice.
Alternate play: Our old favorite, Champagne, comes to the line of scrimmage again – just be sure it’s a dry one.
What have we learned?
The broader game plan for pairing wine with your Super Bowl spread should center on fizzy, fruity, and slightly sweet whites or medium-bodied reds with lush fruit, decent acidity, and low tannins. If you are serving wine with your game day snacks, build a lineup by choosing 4-5 different styles.
Our top draft picks:
- Bubbles (Champagne, Prosecco, or Cava)
- Sauvignon Blanc
- Côtes du Rhône
Encourage your guests to try small amounts of each wine with the various snacks you prepare, and may the best wine win!