Host a Game Winning Football Watching Party These 10 Delicious Food and Wine Pairings

Happy New Year! As the new year kicks off football is in high gear, which means the party season continues. No matter whether your favorite team is wins or loses you will be a winner with these football food fan favorites perfectly paired with game winning wines.

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Favorite football snacks include: chili, nachos, Buffalo wings, spinach artichoke dip, pigs in the blanket, sliders, and pizza. However, these foods offer layers of flavors and variations of spices that lead to wine pairing confusion. A natural default: beer! Now, whether you are hosting a gathering of football fanatics or attending a watching party, have no fear, all will be impressed by your party winning food and wine pairing conversions.

Beef chili is perfect for day of watching football. Rich in texture with layers of flavors, it is a real crowd pleaser. For the perfect pairing, choose either Malbec or warm climate Syrah to pair with beef chili. Both of these wines offer flavor profiles that match well with lean beef and chili seasonings of cumin, coriander, pepper, as well as black pepper and black beans.

Chicken Nachos are a game day staple, but they can be complicated to pair with wine due to the layers of textures and flavors, including refried beans, jalapeños, and cream cheese. With so many different flavors coming together it is best to choose a dry, aromatic white wine such as Torrontes or Vermentino. Torrontes pairs well with chicken, cilantro, cumin, and salsa. Similarly, Vermentino pairs well with medium weight foods that are flavored by a variety of herbs and spices.

Beef Nachos are perfect for the game but pose the same challenges as chicken nachos when it comes to wine pairing. Two ideal wine recommendations include Cabernet Franc or Carmenere. Both of these wines roasted and smoked meats, a variety of cheese, coriander and red pepper spices, and most importantly…jalapeños. Carmenere also pairs well with smoked meats, chipotle peppers, and black beans.

Chicken Wings are a must to celebrate the big game. Pairing wings with wine depends on how you make the wings. If your wings are spicy try a slightly sweeter wine such as Gewurtraminer to level out the spice; sweet wings pair well with a red wine such as Zinfandel or Garnacha; herbal wings work with Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc; and when in doubt…chose Rosé!

Spinach Artichoke Dip is a football food staple. Not too many wines pair well with artichokes but Gruner Veltliner is a sure bet. It is a dry and zesty white wine that has lots of herbal notes to match the spinach and artichokes. If only red will do try Nebbiolo, it’s lighter in weight and pairs well with a large variety of creamy cheese and roasted vegetables.

What could be more fun than pigs in the blanket? These childhood favorites are popular at football parties. Standard pigs in the blanket pair well with a crisp dry Riesling or Pinot Gris. Both of these dry white wines will pair well with a variety of foods easily. If you chose spicy sausage for pigs in the blanket try Nero d’Avola, it loves sausage seasoning.

Everyone loves the classic beef and cheddar slider for the game. This quintessential football food pairs beautifully with a light and fruity Pinot Noir or a Beaujolais. Both wines are light in weight with soft berry flavors and really nice earthy notes; Beaujolais will also have a touch of smokiness. Either one will be a winner with your sliders.

Seven Layer Dip is crowd pleaser; however, pairing it with wine poses the similar challenges to nachos. How do you pair one wine with seven layers of different flavors and textures? However, the solution is quite easy. Chose Chablis or a un-oaked Chardonnay. The lighter earthy notes of the Chablis or un-oaked Chardonnay will blend all the layers of the dip together seamlessly on the palate. If you are not sure which Chardonnay to buy I have an easy solution…Bubbles! Try an extra dry brut sparkling wine or Champagne for the perfect pairing. Plus your guests will love you if you bring out the bubbles!

Millions of pounds of guacamole are consumed by football watching fans. It is an important part to any game watching party. Luckily, it is not a hard food to pair with wine. The game winning pairing is Furmint; with the aromatics of Sauvignon Blanc and pleasant oakiness of Chardonnay, place racy minerality, Furmint is a versatile wine that works well with guacamole. In need of a red? Beaujolais is light and fruity with a balanced earthiness that also pairs with guacamole.

Finally, the most popular football watching food of all: Pizza! Whether your pizza is topped with sausage, pepperoni, bell peppers and onions or simply covered in cheese, Barbera d’Asti or Zinfandel are perfect pizza wines. Barbera d’Asti is both rich and light, bold flavors of fruit and earthiness wrapped in a light mouth-feel, a great pairing with rich meats, an array of cheese, and a variety of spices. Another winner is zinfandel, a full body wine that loves spice, rich meats, rich cheeses, and roasted vegetables.

Football watching parties will score with these great food and wine pairings. Whether your team wins or loses your guests will be guaranteed to have a good time. And when in doubt about a food and wine pairing think pink! Rosé pairs with just about anything and real mean drink pink. Cheers!

*This article originally appeared in The Daily Meal in August 2016.

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