With the NFL season just past the quarter-mark, the Chicago Bears playing tonight, and Notre Dame with a bye-week, I have a rare weekend during the football season where neither my Saturday nor my Sunday plans are set in stone. What better time, then, to offer up some of the best wines to drink while watching football?
The first caveat is that - yes - you can drink wine while watching football. Don't let the tens of millions of dollars that the big, watery beer companies pay sway you otherwise.
In terms of the sorts of wines that go well with football, there are several of considerations - one is the sorts of game food you're eating and the second is cost. If you're watching the game with friends, you don't want to break the bank.
Start with the South American reds. Chilean Merlots, Malbecs from Agrgentina and Carmeneres - also from Chile - are all good bets. These are all versatile wines that are approachable, drinkable and very, very reliable to find good ones in the $10 - $15 price range.
Chilean Merlots are a favorite of mine - and have been for some time - because of their great cost-to-value ratio. Add a little green and white pepper in the jammy flavor profile and these wines can stand up well to the likes of pizza, wings with blue cheese sauce and salsa.
Argentina is the land of Malbec and steak. Stick with Malbecs if you are going to have burgers, mini-burgers, chili, meat on a stick, meat in a box or carne asada. Malbecs continue to be popular - not just because they are great performers for the price - but also because most of the ones in the $15-20 range have layers of complexity that other wines in the same price range don't have.
For the more esoteric choice, show up with a Carmenere. Typically, these wines are brimming with earth, wood and green pepper flavors. They are interesting, full-bodied and robust and go well with nachos, wings, brats (for the fellow Midwesterners out there) and pulled pork.
If you want domestic wine, there are even more choices. From fan-favorite red blends to Zinfandels. North Coast Cabernet to Oregon Pinot Noir. These wines will all serve you well. Virginia's Chambourcins and Cabernet Francs are also great performers, as well as tasty options.
All the above selections can be found easily and in the $10 - $20 range. If you want to try something a little more expensive, a little more high-end, but still stay in the football spirit, then there is McGah Family Cellars. If the name sounds familiar, that's because it's the same McGahs who helped to cofound the Oakland Raiders.
McGah Family Cellars, located in Napa Valley's Rutherford subappelation, currently makes two wines - a Sauvignon Blanc (called 10 70 Green) and a Cabernet Sauvignon (called Scarlett). Rutherford does both of these varietals well, and it is no surprise that McGah's offerings live up to their expectations.
Make no mistake about it, Scarlett is not a casual wine for any given lazy Sunday. It is - like most Rutherford Cabernets - a big, bold, complex wine that requires some time to open up. Once it does, the plumb, cedar, oak and coco flavors help to define this smooth, robust wine. At $60 a bottle, it is a wine best saved for when your team makes the playoffs, but there is no better way to celebrate making it to the postseason.
Whatever you choose to drink, you will enjoy all your games a little bit more with the right wine.