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Sip on Some Wine During the Big Game

Perhaps you were among the 19 million people who watched an NFL football game on Sunday or among the nearly 25 million who watched the Rose Bowl this year. Perhaps it was your alma mater playing in a bowl game or a hometown favorite vying for a wildcard berth. Or, perhaps you couldn’t escape a family glued to the idiot box all day. Dig in, there is more football coming this weekend, and that means plenty of grazing.

Fare like chili, brats, nachos, and cheese dips are closely associated with television football like turkey is associated with Thanksgiving. If you’re health conscious, there’s popcorn and granola, but for us, football Sunday is not a day to be known for its nutrition.

While beer is the most common beverage associated with television football, it doesn’t have to be the only one. For us, sipping red wine is more enjoyable when the home team is playing.

Given the food we’re likely to eat in front of the television, the wine should be as frivolous as an end-zone celebration. Bordeaux and burgundy are unlikely matches to jalapenos, for instance, so break out those fruit bombs – zinfandel, syrah, red blends, tempranillos, and grenaches. Fruity white wines like pinot grigio are good matches to vegetables, fruit plates, and quiches.

With this in mind, here are some fruity wines that are simple, tasty, and versatile:

  • Sassoregale Sangiovese 2016 ($16). From Tuscany, this luscious sangiovese is a perfect match to wings, pizza, and pulled pork. Full-bodied but with forward red berry fruit and a dash of spice.

  • Ravenswood Teldeschi Zinfandel 2015 ($42). Now owned by Constellation Brands, Ravenswood struggles to produce the Joel Peterson zinfandels we so enjoyed from the 1990s, but at least two have managed to hold their own. This single-vineyard zinfandel has the grit one expects from the grape variety and is amply bolstered by nearly 16 percent petite sirah. From the Dry Creek Valley, it has blueberry and currant aromas with earthy and blackberry flavors, plus a dash of black pepper and licorice. Less brawny and more seductive is the 2015 Ravenswood Dickerson ($42). Coming from a cooler region, it has raspberry notes with a hint of eucalyptus and rosemary.

  • Chronic Cellars Purple Paradise 2016 ($15). For the price, there is a lot of ripe strawberry and black cherry fruit in this red blend. Sporting a label of a skull with dice for eyes, this pleasant quaff with hints of vanilla is a good match with pizza or burgers.

  • Cline Old Vine Lodi Zinfandel 2017 ($12). This venerable zinfandel producer has a hit with this generous and medium bodied zinfandel. Strawberry aromas and flavors abound with a hint to spice. Great value.

  • Cline Ancient Vines Zinfandel 2016 ($15). With grapes taken from 100-year-old vines, this venerable zinfandel continues to stun its followers. Bold and rich red fruit flavors with a dash of spice and mocha. Its soft tannins make it an easy quaff. Get it while you can, because these ancient vines aren’t going to be around much longer.

  • Ferzo Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2016 ($26). This is an incredibly delicious wine that begs for a second and third glass. Loads of cherry and wild blackberry flavors with a healthy dose of spice. Very soft and lingering. This is a good quaffer or pizza wine.

  • Beronia Reserva 2013 ($20). You get a lot for your money from this red Rioja blend of tempranillo, graciano and mazuelo. Blackberry and plum notes with a dash of cinnamon. Sweet tannins give it roundness and accessible complexity. Perfect for burgers or pasta.

  • Leese-Fitch California Firehouse Red Wine 2016 ($12). Always a good value and often found in restaurants, this wine is a varied blend of red grapes dominated by petite sirah. Destined to be paired with barebecued foods, it is simple yet tasty.

  • Blindfold California White Wine 2016 ($32). It is unfortunate that you don’t see many white blends on the market – if blending works for red, why not white? This one is a a broad blend of chardonnay, roussanne, viognier, chenin blanc, muscat and vermentino. Unique and bold citrus flavors with a hint of lychee on the nose and a good balance of acidity and richness. Serve this alongside cheese, fruit plates and quiche.

  • 1000 Stories Gold Rush Red Bourbon Barrel Aged California 2016 ($19). If you’re looking for a bold fruit forward red wine for winter meat cuisine, this is for you. Crafted from a mélange of cabernet sauvignon, syrah, zinfandel, petite sirah and merlot, this wine is aged in French and American oak barrels and finally in new and old bourbon barrels. Even with all of this wood treatment the result is a powerful fruit driven red wine with no overt wood flavors just rich fruit and a hint of vanilla. It would be great with beef satay, chili, and stews.

  • Rex Hill Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2016 ($35). Medium body with a lavender aroma and ripe dark fruit flavors. This is a simple wine to enjoy by itself before the food is served or alongside pizza.

  • Fina Decero The Owl & The Dust Devil 2015 ($33). Augmented reality apps are the hit nowadays and add a lot of fun to a label. Download the app and the story behind the wine’s name comes to life through your cellphone camera. It’s good diversion during half-time. But behind the inventive label is a delicious wine that surprised us. This blend – cabernet sauvignon, malbec, petit verdot, and tannat – showed lots of plum and blueberry notes with a floral nose and significant licorice. It is showing well now.

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