Tailgate Wine PairingsIt’s officially Fall, and you know what that means: football season is in full swing, with all of its tailgating glory. But just because the food is decidedly casual doesn’t mean the wine should be an afterthought. So we’ve called in two gaming experts—Justin Amick, co-owner of Atlanta’s favorite boutique bowling alley, The Painted Pin, where sliders, pizzas and innovative snacks reign supreme, and Travis Hinkle, beverage director of Houston’s newest chef-driven tavern and pub, Hunky Dory (hint: both Amick and Hinkle are Advanced Sommeliers)—to help us up the ante on our tailgating game with wine pairings that perfectly complement the most iconic football foods. Take a look!



Buffalo Chicken Wings

  • Amick’s Pick: “Fritz Muller Perlwein Rosa Trocken ($15) is a German rose made from portugieser and spatburgunder (pinot noir) and is bottled with a slight effervescence. The lush red fruit and sparkling component cuts through the spicy characteristics of the buffalo sauce, and the refreshing acidity counterbalances the heat from the dish.”
  • Hinkle’s Pick: “The best thing you can do with buffalo chicken wings is to pick a wine that won't be overshadowed by their spicy, sweet, vinegar flavors. A lower alcohol wine with high acidity is a must, and a touch of sweetness helps too. A great bottle of German Riesling, like Weingut Karthauserhof Eitelsbacher Karthauserhofberg Riesling Kabinett, 2013 ($35), has all of those characteristics, with enough power to stand up to the boldness of the wings.”


Beef Chili

  • Amick’s Pick: “Seghesio Zinfandel ($18), a benchmark producer of America's grape, goes really well with the oily richness of the beef chili. The ripe red dominated fruit notes of strawberry coulis and raspberry jam compliment the richness of the dish. This wine is the perfect balance of fruit and power to hold up to the strong flavor profile of the beef chili.”
  • Hinkle’s Pick: “I'm crazy about beef chili with Syrah, and for me, there are no better examples than those found in the Northern Rhône in France. Julien Cécillon is an up-and-coming producer, making heady, peppery, floral expressions of Syrah, like Saint-Joseph Rouge Babylone Syrah, 2013 ($30). All of those savory aspects of the wine marry beautifully with the meaty goodness that is beef chili.”


Loaded Potato Skins

  • Amick’s Pick: “Gamay is one of my favorite grape varieties that is lost in the shadow of its Burgundian counterpart star, Pinot Noir. It’s so light and delicate, yet packs a punch of ripe red berry fruits. Jean-Paul Brun Beaujolais L'Ancien Vieilles Vignes ($19) has a dusty and earthy granitic undertone that gives this wine complexity combining with its structural frame that can stand up to the fatty and rich toppings of a loaded baked potato.”
  • Hinkle’s Pick: “Here, you need a wine that matches the richness of all the ingredients mixed into the loaded baked potato. Emmerich Knoll Grüner Veltliner Ried Loibenberg Smaragd ($60) is the latest to be harvested in the Wachau of Austria, resulting in a stunningly rich and powerful dry white wine. Known for its savory notes of green herbs and white pepper, these wines play perfectly with the chive and bacon notes.”


Sub Sandwiches

  • Amick’s Pick: “The great white grape of Austria is such a versatile dry crowd pleaser that will pair perfectly with most any sub sandwich combination. The tart sour fruit notes and mouth-watering acidity of Bernhard Ott Gruner Veltliner ($20) help counter balance all the usual suspects that accompany any great sub.” 
  • Hinkle’s Pick: “Because subs come in many different varieties and can have lots of ingredients, the most important thing is that the wine is refreshing and easy to drink. A great bottle of Beaujolais, like Marcel Lapierre Morgon ($30) is exactly that. They never demand your attention, but they do reward it.”


Trail Mix

  • Amick’s Pick: “Cava Avinyo Brut Nature Reserva ($21) is one of my favorite cava producers in all of Spain. This traditional method sparkling wine is the ideal match for trail mix, which is a mixed bag of sweet, salt and savory flavors. The carbonation and abundance of citrus and orchard fruit notes creates balance and finesse with one of the best tailgate snacks in existence. You can never go wrong with sparking wine as a pairing when in doubt.”
  • Hinkle’s Pick: “With salty snacks, a cold and crisp sparkling wine, like Monte Rossa "Prima Cuvée" Brut ($35), is a no-brainer. I'm huge on Franciacorta right now, which is emerging as Italy's most impressive answer to French Champagne. Compared to other classic sparkling wine regions, the climate is a little warmer, so they tend to be a touch fruitier, with those same brioche and nutty notes you expect from great Champagne.”