It would be folly to imagine wine ever overtaking beer and all the other spirits when it comes to pairing an adult beverage with TV sports like football — especially today and for the rest of the month when college and professional pigskin playoffs and bowls dominate the schedule.
But there are those of us who are partial to the grape — whether we’re watching at a party, at home or in our favorite sports bar.
Sports bar? Wine? It’s happening, folks. Some limited wine selections have found a niche right along side the suds and single malts beneath the big screens of your friends’ parties and at your local watering holes.
Much of that is because wine now can be packaged in many different kinds of containers: cans, boxes with bladders, pouches and bottles with twist tops that are as portable as any brew — and just as ready to be poured and consumed.
And let’s get real: You don’t want to clink a dainty Riedel wine glass against a beer mug or pint container following a touchdown or turnover. So don’t be afraid to sip from a plastic tumbler or a heavy-duty stem-less container. The wines I recommend for sports parties and bars are pretty new and meant to be drunk sooner rather than later, so the vessel for the voyage to your palate is inconsequential.
Sports wines ought to function like the first rounds of cocktails: A sparkler like a Prosecco will go well with anything from stuffed mushrooms to shrimp to semi-spicy dishes. A little sweetness balances that serrano pepper-laced crab dip or guacamole. A perfect match might be a can of Idaho’s own La Boheme White Wine (Riesling), from Split Rail Winery in Garden City. A four-pack will set you back around $24, but it’s the equivalent of two bottles of wine. Your craft-beer buds secretly will envy the “no-full feeling” of your libation’s vibe.
For just a sipper, I recommend a twist-top bottle of 2014 Goss Creek Chenin Blanc (Lodi, Calif.) that I found recently at the Grocery Outlet at 5544 W Fairview Ave. in Boise — get this — for $3.99. This is a dry white with a true, fruity flavor that is not all gussied up with oak and butter like some silly dime-store Chardonnay. Get to know Chenin Blanc — especially from just south of Sacramento and around Lodi. You can thank me later if you get in on this buy before it is all gone.
If you like reds, a Pinot Noir will take care of you from cocktail hour right up until you get into some hot Mexican fare, a heavy meat entree or barbecue. At that point, bring on one of the big reds with tannins like a peppery Zinfandel, Cab Franc or Petit Verdot. I found some cute half-bottles (375 ml, two glasses) of 2012 A to Z Pinot Noir (Oregon) for $4.99 at the same Grocery Outlet.
If you want to learn more about some of my “value-wine” finds — those that seem to taste better than their price — email me at email@example.com. You’ll learn about these tasty, inexpensive sippers as soon as I am able to sock away a case for myself. By the way, today marks the first anniversary of the Grapes West monthly wine column. Your feedback is appreciated.
... From Telaya Winery: “Our 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon was just awarded a Double Platinum at the Platinum Judging for the Best of the Northwest.” (Check out the article at winepressnw.com.) Look for Telaya to celebrate the opening of its new winery near the Riverside Hotel sometime in February.
... From Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boise: “Manager and chief somm Ryan Robinson, a certified sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers, has been named first alternate for Keeper Collection’s 2016 Somms Under Fire national competition (in case one of the three finalists cannot participate). Dozens of applicants from throughout the country took an insanely difficult timed, written exam testing their wine knowledge to qualify, and the top three will vie in an epic battle of wine and food pairing skills Jan. 24 in Austin, Texas.”