10 Intriguing Wines to Enhance Super Bowl Sunday

Many of you will watch the Super Bowl game between the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots on Sunday. I know I will. Perhaps you’ll spend the afternoon and evening at a raucous group gathering at a neighbor’s home, at a local bar with a few good friends and plenty of strangers (soon to be good friends), alone with a pizza that you don’t have to share, or with a significant other canoodling on the sofa between time-outs. Wherever you go, ensure that plenty of quality wines are at-the-ready because you’ll need it at some point.

Fortunately, I was sent, as samples, intriguing wines that are guaranteed to rescue any bouts of boredom, stale conversation, and those tastes of grocery-store-bought chicken wings. After a few sips of the exceptional selections reviewed below, you won’t even care about the Super Bowl because another conversation will have already started.

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First Quarter – Coin Toss

It’s always a good plan to start with a bit of bubbly and this keeper from Virginia’s Rappahannock Cellars is a delight. In its second release, Rappahannock Cellars Sparkling Rose 2017 ($34) is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. Pale salmon-pink, elements of strawberries, rhubarb, and toast were prevalent on the nose. On the smooth and balanced palate, ripe red fruit, white stone fruit, toast, and the slightest hint of pepper were bolstered by lively acidity. And those bubbles!!!

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Cocktail? Aperitif? Le Coq d’Or Pineau des Charentes Hardy ($25) has this! A Pineau des Charentes, from France, is a fortified wine made from unfermented grape juice or a blend of barely fermented grape must to which Cognac is added then aged. The Hardy is a Pineau that offers subtle aromas and flavors of honey and dried fruit. Balanced and incredibly fresh, Offer your guests a glass “straight up” or mix a fun cocktail – you can even add this to some bubbly. (Click here for cocktail recipes using Pineau des Charentes.)
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Second Quarter – Who’s the Last to Score Before the Half?

We’re all ready for a new player in the field of wine and Aridus Wine Company from Willcox, Arizona is one of the best I’ve found. (Click here for more.) Aridus Field Blend 2017 ($28) is a refreshing wine of Sauvignon Blanc, Malvasia, and Viognier cultivated in estate vineyards. This lovely white blend burst with aromas of lemon zest, yellow flower and lime while the palate offered mouthwatering acidity and flavors of crisp citrus, juicy tropical fruit, and the slightest hint of herbs.

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Guaranteed is that someone in your group of football fans hasn’t tasted (or even heard of) the Furmint grape from Hungary. It’s time to share the love of this delicious variety. Tokaj-Oremus Mandolas Dry Furmint 2016 ($25) presented a rich mouthfeel and a broad flavor profile. As a bonus, this balanced and expressive Furmint is dry, a characteristic that is unusual since Tokaj is associated with sweeter wines. Versatile enough to pair with anything at the table, this wine is a must-try.
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The Halftime Show

Pour a glass of Troon Riesling Whole Grape Ferment 2017 ($20) from Applegate Valley, Oregon. Although the word “Riesling” is on the label, the palate profile isn’t what you would expect. Made with native yeasts that are found on the grape skins themselves, the phrase “whole grape ferment”, in this case, indicates that the grapes are crushed then fermented on the skins, like a red wine. I noted aromas of honey, nuts, light citrus, and orange blossom that were distinctive. The full, round palate was rife with medium acidity and elements of lemon pudding and ripe citrus. Smooth from beginning to end, this wine promises to get plenty of wine lovers talking!

Super Bowl
If you’ve tasted a wine that’s gone through appassimento (a process of drying grapes to concentrate aromas and flavors), then you’ll appreciate this wine; it’s believed to be the only dry white wine created by any Veneto producer using this technique. Romeo & Juliet PassioneSentimento Bianco, Veneto IGT ($16) is of the Garganega grape that was hand picked and dried for about 15 days, crushed, and macerated for 12 hours (and more). A portion was then aged in French oak barrels for a few months. I discovered lovely, rich aromas and flavors of lemon, citrus, and stone fruit that were just as creamy as they were bright.
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Likewise, Romeo & Juliet PassioneSentimento Rosso, Veneto IGT ($16) of Merlot, Corvina, and Croatina grapes, is the only dry red in the United States market made from 100% dried grapes that are neither Valpolicella or Amarone. The Pasqua family deem this “a fun wine, inside and out” and I have to agree. Spice, cherries, blueberries, ripe raspberries and vanilla were just a few of the aromas that wafted out of my glass. Rich and luscious flavors of dark cherries, plums, and spice led to a finish of dried fruit and almonds. Absolutely delicious.

Third Quarter – Extra Points

From Upper Galilee in Israel, a glorious blend of Barbera, Syrah, Petit Verdot, and Grenache was found in Galil Mountain Winery ELA 2014 ($22). Aromas of rich red fruit, dark plums, juicy cherries, mocha, and thyme burst from the glass and I was smitten. On the palate, bright acidity and smooth, yet powerful tannins enveloped notes of spice and red fruit leading to flavors of juicy cherries on the finish. Aged for 12 months in French oak barrels, this memorable wine is one to find again and again.

Super Bowl
From the Pasqua family, the Famiglia Pasqua Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG 2013 ($50) is legendary. A blend of Corvina, Rondinella, Corvinone, and Negrara, hand-picked grapes are sorted then placed in wood boxes to begin the appassimento process for about three months. Once dried, they are crushed, fermented, and transferred to French oak barrels where malolactic fermentation occurs. After 18-20 months, the wine is bottled and left to rest before its release. Dark and rich aromas of red fruit, currants, and dried fruit were mesmerizing and the first few sips revealed notes of blackberries, black cherries, almonds, cocoa, baking spice and almonds. Wrapped in a cloak of vibrant acidity and satin-like tannins, this wine is beautiful.
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Fourth Quarter – Dessert for the Win(e)

Whether chocolate decadence or crème brulee is on the menu, a glass of M. Chapoutier Banyuls 2016 ($25), is the dessert wine to pour. Often termed the “French cousin of Port”, this fortified wine is from old vines in the French region of Languedoc-Roussillon. From mostly Grenache grapes, intense aromas of blackberries, chocolate, and fruit compote were enticing; on the palate, gentle tannins and rich fruit notes were absolutely magnificent. (You can even have a bit in your coffee.)

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Cheers! ~ Cindy

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