Drink Pairings for Your Game Day Grub
By Mary Small Published January 2021
Having a handful of friends over for the big football game? Believe it or not, what you serve to your game-day guests is just as important as the gridiron. To be awarded the MVPP (Most Valuable Party Planner), you need to dish out some classics with cocktails to pair. Score big with these crowd-pleasing drinks to serve with your playoff provisions.
Classics on the Grill – Sliders, Hot Dogs, Wings
You could reach for the classic beer and brat combo, or you could branch out. Hard seltzers and canned cocktails continue to grow in popularity and they make great teammates with classic football foods. For buffalo wings, grab a High Noon Pineapple. The sweetness of this fizzy seltzer will cut through the heat from the wings. If you are serving varying types of wings, there is a flavor to pair with each in a Funky Buddha Seltzer Variety Pack. Have hot dogs in mind? Throw them on the grill and make your franks fancy by sipping on an Absolut Berry Vodkarita Sparkling Cocktail. The most dynamic duo though, is a savory cheeseburger slider in one hand and a Cutwater Lime Margarita in the other. Throw some guac on the slider for an extra point.
Lipsmackin’ BBQ – Ribs, Pulled Pork and Pulled Chicken
If you want to have your guests doing the wave from your couch, set out some barbecue with bourbon. A few slabs of ribs and a few fingers of Cooper’s Mark Peach Bourbon should do the trick. The sweet fruitiness of this bourbon balances the savory smoked flavor of the ribs very nicely. Not into fruit-flavored bourbon? Swap it with Zackariah Harris Bourbon. This smooth bourbon is a star player at a moderate price, so you can spring for the extra side of mac and cheese. If you prefer a twist on tradition and want to present a platter of pulled pork or pulled chicken nachos, tequila is an absolute touchdown. Sip Los Rijos Añejo Tequila neat or mix a margarita with Tierra Fertil Blanco Tequila. Both will have your friends doing a victory dance.
Tour of Italy – Pizza, Charcuterie Board and Sausage & Pepper Hoagies
ABC Fine Wine & Spirits wine expert Jim Greely has hand-selected three wines to toast to your team as you dine on some classic Italian finger foods. Slow-simmering sausage and peppers in tomato sauce to make the ultimate hoagie? Greely suggests Agostino Pavia & Figli Moliss Barbera d’Asti Superiore.
“The Barbera grape is native to the Piedmont region of Italy; its calling card is high acidity and low tannins. This makes it a perfect match for the natural acids in tomato sauces. Agostino Pavia & Figli Moliss Barbera d’Asti Superiore has beautifully balanced blackberry and cherry fruit, a medium body and beguiling earthiness.”
However, there is no shame in ordering a few pizzas to feed your football lovin’ flock. Take out the work in the kitchen so you have time to watch the game. If you plan to order a pizza with traditional toppings, then the Agostino Pavia & Filgli Moliss Barbera d’Asti still pairs very nicely. If you are more of a white pizza person, you may want to opt for a chilled Pinot Grigio.
“Muri-Gries Pinot Grigio is bright and intense with bosc pear, golden delicious apple, mineral and wisps of mountain herb. It should pair perfectly with soft white cheeses, shellfish, vegetable lasagna, fettucine alfredo or pizza Bianco,” said Greely. Finally, if you want to fill up on a charcuterie board filled with hard cheese and cured meats, Block 061 Old Vine Zinfandel is a tasty complement. This full-bodied vino has juicy raspberry and plum flavors with ripe black fruit aromas, bringing balance to any hearty cheese board.
Snack Attach – Pigs in a Blanket, Chips & Dip and Classic Nachos
Did you think we weren’t going to mention beer in an article about football? We wouldn’t dream of leaving out the most classic of pigskin pairings. If you are catering to a crowd, stock your fridge with a craft beer variety pack so there is something for everyone. We suggest Southern Tier Overpack’d or Cigar City Brewing Mixed Pack. Set out a few platters of easy finger foods like pigs in a blanket, or potato chips with your favorite dips. It is always good to have vodka or gin on hand for those who don’t delight in cracking open a can of beer. 1941 Craft Vodka or Balfour Street Gin with tonic and squeeze of lime is an easy way to appease most non-beer drinkers. You can also put a box of Coast Handmade Vodka on the counter with some cranberry juice and let your guests serve themselves.
There is no steadfast rule to game day grub and drink pairings. Drink what you choose and eat what you like. If you need more game day inspiration, there are plenty of big batch cocktail recipes to choose from.