Football and Wine

Fall is right around the corner and with it comes two of my favorite seasons. Here on the West Coast the 2015 grape harvest has either started (California) or will in a few short weeks (Oregon and Washington). Not only is there a new vintage of wine being harvested but also a new season of my favorite sport. Football!

Specifically, college football. There is so much I love about the game– the passionate fans, the sound of marching bands in the stands (as opposed to strip club rock at NFL stadiums) and the traditions and rivalries. On an average Saturday, a West Coast fan can watch dozens of games on multiple networks starting from 9AM and often going to 1AM the next morning. That’s a lot of football! And when you are hosting games like the Winerabblers do, that also means a lot of wine.

We tend to get warm Indian summers in the Northwest so for the early season games in September and early October, I lean toward white and rosé wines. There are a lot of games on but the weather is still nice enough to watch from the patio or take a break in the backyard. A nice dry, yet fruity Albariño or rosé does the trick.

Here’s a fun Albariño grown in California and available at Trader Joe’s

Click here for a list of some delicious late summer sippers

A dry rosé from one of our favorite producers in Oregon’s Willamette Valley

Sangria is always a hit as well; white or red wine-based. Check out our post explaining how to make sangria.

When a favorite team kicks off before noon, there’s nothing like a crisp, dry sparkling brut to start the day. And while mimosas are fun, orange juice is optional at our house.

Here’s one of our favorite bubbly wines, an Italian Prosecco that you can find at Trader Joe’s

As the season progresses and the weather gets colder, I tend to move towards red wines. I prefer blended wines or Pinot noir, a lighter bodied red since they pair nicely with food. White wines are still part of the playbook but often Viognier and Pinot blanc, something with a bit more body.

A great Pinot noir made by a local Oregon wine producer

Click here for a red blend out of Washington that knocks it out of the park

Not easy to find outside of the Portland area, this Viognier is worth the search

As the season approaches the holidays, mulled wine warms the crowd right up. If it’s cold and rainy outside and you’ve got a group of friends over to watch the football games, a big pot of mulled wine is a crowd-pleaser.

I strongly suggest you resist the urge to go fancy with the wine. When making mulled wine, get a 1.5L bottle from the bottom shelf at the grocery store. Chilean cabs or merlot like Gato Negro are a good choice because they have enough fruit for flavor yet enough body to handle the mulling spices and any sugar you might add.

We have tried using better wine as the base and it did not taste as good as the Gato Negro batch. A fruity wine is best since you are adding a lot of spices and warming it up. Mulled wine is a tasty, yet inexpensive way to treat the whole gang at your football party.

And please don’t forget the most important football and wine day of all– Thanksgiving!

I can not stress this enough: select a lighter style Pinot noir or dry rosé from Oregon. These wines are perfect with poultry. Both have great acidity that pairs well with turkey and with the rest of the meal so heavy, why drink a heavy wine?

Three more Oregon Pinot noir wines we’re fond of:

Vincent Wines

St. Innocent Wines

Beckham Estate

So whatever your football traditions are, wine can be easily incorporated into them. I hope these suggestions help with future game day party planning. Good luck on the season, well, unless your team is playing mine.

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