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  • Writer's pictureNicole Leonetti

Food & Wine Pairing - Tailgate Edition (PART 2)

Now that we are in the thick of football season, it’s time to start getting serious about things! Unless you already know your team has no hope, which—if that is the case—just focus on the wine! We did some basic tailgate food and wine pairings in Part 1 of this series; now, it’s time for some cooler weather tailgate favorites. These will be sure to make you very popular (and more importantly, very happy) at the next football Sunday!

Honey BBQ Chicken Sliders: (2018 Hitching Post Forerunner Chenin Blanc – Santa Barbara County) – I love a slider option on a football Sunday! It’s not a big commitment: you can just have one or you can have five – you do you! The easy option is to reach for a beer with your Honey BBQ Chicken Sliders, but I’m a Giants fan – so I’m not here for easy! I want something delicious that will take my mind off our lack of offense. With just a wisp of floral sweetness, this Chenin Blanc will complement the honey flavors and cut through any spiciness the BBQ sauce may have. I must say I was surprised by how good this pairing was – I was leaning towards having five sliders with multiple glasses of the Chenin!

Buffalo Chicken Bites: (2020 Hive & Honey Gewürztraminer – Monterey County) – Ok, this was another pairing that took me by surprise. First, I don’t typically purchase wine from the grocery store, but when I found myself without Gewürztraminer on a Sunday morning I panicked, and this is what we were working with. Second, I have a history of not loving any hint of sweetness in my wine (this has slowly been changing over the last two years). Well, I think this pairing was perfect! I love a buffalo chicken situation and this Gewürztraminer had just enough sweetness to match up with the heat – but wasn’t so sweet that it was distracting. Also, in the spirit of a Football Sunday, this Gewürztraminer is perfect to pick up on your way to a tailgate party and you can pair with buffalo chicken anything – wings, dips, pizza. Plus, it’s super affordable so you can buy a few bottles!

Chili: (Bodega de Edgar Toro de Paso Red, 85% Tempranillo, 15% Grenache – Paso Robles) – I love having chili in the Fall during football season. We made a big batch of Texas-style Brisket Chili in the Instant Pot and served it along with my favorite Paso Robles Tempranillo. The wine has flavors of red fruits, plum, and dried meat, which certainly stands up to the layers of flavor of the chili. The high acidity and fine tannins of the wine paired perfectly with the brisket. You can also have fun playing around with the toppings of your chili – shredded cheese, sour cream, radishes, avocado – the opportunities are endless!

As I mentioned in Part 1 of this series – all these items would also taste fabulous with some Pinot Noir! Keep it simple – don’t overthink it. If your team is winning, you will love any pairing!


Kansas City Chiefs = Châteauneuf-du-Pape: It’s a beautiful blend of a few top-notch ingredients (Mahomes, Kelce, Hill). Having said that, it may not always live up to its stellar reputation….

LA Rams = Rosé: I mean…it’s LA – it’s all about fun in the sun for these people. The football fans seem to keep it light around here.

Pittsburgh Steelers = Charles Shaw (2 Buck Chuck): Gross – won’t touch the stuff!

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