By Tom Marquardt and Patrick Darr
Thanksgiving will bring family around the dining room table, but eventually it also will bring people around the television set. With football as traditional as turkey on Thanksgiving Day, it is a way for guests to pass time before or after the sumptuous repast.
Whether your team be the Navy Midshipmen (go, Navy!) or the Maryland Terps, there is something to cheer about at this time of the year. Given the threat of nuclear war, national politics and a looming recession to keep our minds busy, there is nothing like a good match on the gridiron to divert our attention and even bring people together. We are willing to accept differences of opinion in regards to football than we are in regards to politics.
There’s always snacks on the coffee table in front of the television to keep our appetites sated mid-day with plans for a hearty dinner after the afternoon game is over – and often during a late afternoon game. While beer is a good option to offset salty snacks, we turn to wine – this being a wine column.
Rosé is versatile wine to go with cheese, dips and salty snacks. We love sauvignon blanc with lime-based guacamole dips, popcorn and salsa. If you have buffalo wings on the plate, zinfandel or syrah is a good call. Just keep in mind these wines pack a lot of alcohol. We know the game is exciting, but you don’t want to be the drunk to ruin dinner.
During colder months, we love to have a pot of chili available all day. If you have a crowd to the house, chili is easy to make for a crowd and your friends can draw a bowl from the pot whenever hunger strikes. For this dish, we turn to Rhone Valley’s Cotes du Rhone or gigondas, California zinfandels or Washington state merlots.
Another common dish at our houses on football weekends is stew – beef, pork or lamb. Again, it’s an easy dish to prepare in advance and serve at half-time or in between games. If that’s your call, look to hearty wine: an Argentine malbec, Italian rosso di montalcino or barbara, or – our favorite — a Spanish tempranillo.
Hot dogs present a challenge for wine, but we recommend rosé (or just give in to beer). Burgers can be paired with a number of wines but they should all be simple: zinfandel, syrah, dolcetto, merlot.
Looking for vegetarian or piscatorian menus? Fish tacos with albarino or a New Zealand sauvignon blanc, pinot noir with grilled portabellos, chenin blanc or a Rhone Valley white blend with grilled vegetables.
If you have your mind set on steak, break out the cabernet sauvignons to offset those marbled cuts of beef.
Here are some football wines that we have found to keep it simple:
Trivento Golden Reserve Malbec 2019 ($20). This outstanding wine from Argentina has firm tannins and grip to make it a good wine to pair with steak or wild game. Floral aromas, dark berry flavors and long finish. Well worth the price.
Morande Gran Reserva Casablanca Sauvignon Blanc 2020 ($20). Herbal and honey aromas are followed by aggressive grapefruit and white peach flavors.
Chalk Hill Estate-Bottled Sauvignon Blanc 2020 ($20). Generous grapefruit notes followed by melon and tropical fruit flavors. Crisp acidity.
Gerard Bertrand Cotes des Roses Pinot Noir 2021 ($17). This southern France producer has a great line of inexpensive wines in a distinctive, rose-shaped bottle. The wine is as attractive as the package. The name is a nod to the Roses Coast, a beach by the Mediterranean Sea and includes a rosé, chardonnay, sauvignon and this pinot noir. Creative director Emma Bertrand coupled the wines with a stunning photo series by David LaChapelle.
Le Fat Bastard Chardonnay Pays D’OC IGP 2020 ($15). An interesting offering from the Languedoc-Roussillon region of southern France. Luscious tropical fruit flavors with just a hint of oak, a streak of minerality and a vanillin finish. A lot of wine for 15 bucks.
Ritual Pinot Noir 2019 ($21). This pinot noir from Chile’s Casablanca Valley packs a lot of fruit for the money. It’s so hard to find a pinot noir at this price that is this good. Simple, red berry flavors and a touch of spice.
Beronia Crianza 2018 ($15). This quaffable and generous blend from Rioja is made up of tempranillo (96 percent), garnacha and mazuelo. Violet aromas with black cherry, raspberry flavors with a hint of vanilla.
Paxton NOW Shiraz 2021 ($23). From Australia’s McLaren Vale, this juicy shiraz has a lot of forward blackberry and raspberry fruit. NOW stands for Natural Organic Wine.
Olema Cotes de Provence Rosé 2021 ($15). This California producer has put its stamp on a rosé made in Provence. It is a classic blend of grenache, syrah , cinsault and carignan. Beautiful and bright peach and melon flavors.
Landmark Damaris Reserve Chardonnay 2020 ($40). If you like oak with your chardonnay, this is a wine for you. Pear and citrus notes with hints of vanilla and spice.
Chateau Minuty Prestige Cotes de Provence Rosé 2021 ($35). We really enjoyed this classy and fresh rosé with floral aromas and flavors of citrus and strawberries. The mineral notes are classic to this region.
Souleil Vin de Bonte Le Blanc 2020 ($16). This vin de France is an incredibly satisfying wine that is sure to please a broad array of palates. The blend is 50 percent piquepoul with the rest made up of terret blanc, ugni blanc and muscat. Very aromatic with ripe pineapple and tropical fruit flavors.
Amici Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc 2021 ($45). From the prime region of Napa Valley, this sauvignon blanc has more stuffing than your average sauvignon blanc. Entirely barrel fermented, it shows off an array of aromas from lemon to pineapple. Citrus flavors with a hint of mineral.