Superior wines for the Super Bowl

January 30, 2014 

Tailgating tip for this year’s Super Bowl: You can’t. NFL poobahs have decreed you can’t set up a grill, tables or chairs at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands. Security reasons, they say.

You can eat and drink inside your car or standing beside it, as long as you don’t step outside the designated parking space for which you’ve paid $150. There’s no word on whether you can pop your hood and cook a cheeseburger on your engine.

On the plus side, you won’t need a cooler. The game starts at about 6:30 p.m., and the average low around the New Jersey stadium in February is 25 degrees. That’s well below the suggested serving temperature for wines.

Of course, you can avoid all this by renting a skybox. ESPN says a suite for 30 fans, with food and open bar, is listed at $472,996. That’s $15,766.53 per person.

So this may be the year to tailgate in the comfort of your family room. You could buy six dozen Samsung 75-inch hi-def TV sets and an equal number of Heritage Wood/Gas Fireplaces for the price of that skybox.

If you live in South Florida, of course, you can have a real outdoor tailgate party — maybe even within sight of the ocean. And you can stream the game on your laptop, tablet or phone.

Here are my suggestions for pairing Super Bowl fare with wines — which, as I say every year, are far more appropriate for the rough-and-tumble game of football than the wimpy light beers that are helping sponsor the telecast.

• Cheetos, pretzels, chips, nuts and other salty snacks: inexpensive sparkling wine or bubbly Italian prosecco.

• Crackers and creamy dips of mayo and sour cream with artichokes, asparagus, spinach, smoked salmon and such: big, hearty California chardonnays or rich white wine blends.

• Sandwiches, from burgers and dogs to meatball subs, po'boys and others: light-bodied reds such as pinot noir or dolcetto.

• Five-alarm chili, barbecued ribs, stuffed jalapeños: spicy, hearty red zinfandel.

• Rib-eye steaks, roasts, lechon asado, leg of lamb: cabernet sauvignon or a full-bodied merlot.

• Beer-can chicken from the grill: What the heck, have a can of the beer on which you grilled it. But go craft — no puny “lites.”

• Dessert: Anything chocolate will go nicely with a lush malbec from Argentina, which tastes like chocolate-covered cherries.

Highly recommended

2011 Wente Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, “Southern Hills,” Livermore Valley: rich and hearty, with aromas and flavors of black cherries and black coffee, big, ripe tannins; $18.

2011 Edmeades Zinfandel, Mendocino County: rich and hearty, with aromas and flavors of vanilla, red plums and spice, firm tannins; $20.

Nonvintage “Saten” Italian sparkling wine, Franciacorta DOCG; lots of tiny, active bubbles, flavors of vanilla and lemons, creamy body; $22.

2011 Wild Horse Winery Merlot, Central Coast: aromas and flavors of black cherries and dark spices, full-bodied, big, ripe tannins; $17.


Nonvintage Da Luca Extra Dry Prosecco DOC, Italia: lots of soft bubbles, floral aromas, flavors of sweet, ripe apricots, creamy; $14.

2011 Frei Brothers Chardonnay, Russian River Valley: toasty oak aroma, rich and lush and full-bodied, with apple pie flavors; $20.

Multivintage “Troublemaker” Red Blend, Central Coast (syrah, grenache, mourvedre, zinfandel, petite sirah): soft, rich and full-bodied, with black cherry and spice aromas and flavors; $20.

2012 Geyser Peak Winery “Uncensored” white blend, Calif. (viognier, riesling, chenin blanc, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc): floral aromas, flavors of ripe apples and pears, spicy; $14.

2009 Madonna di Como Dolcetto d'Alba, DOC, Italy: dark red color, light body, black plum aromas and flavors, bitter almond finish; $17.

2011 Da Luca Sangiovese, DOC Romagna Superiore: rich and soft, with black cherry and dark chocolate aromas and flavors; $14.

2012 Robert Mondavi Winery Pinot Noir, Napa Valley: lush aromas and flavors of red plums and spice, medium body, soft tannins, long finish; $26.

2011 Amado Sur Malbec Blend, Mendoza, Argentina (malbec, bonarda, syrah): deep violet color, rich and lush, with aromas and flavors of black cherries and milk chocolate; $15.

Fred Tasker can be reached at

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