Best Wines To Serve On Super Bowl Sunday

If you're throwing a Super Bowl XLVI party this year, or going to one, you've got to prepare like the pros do.

First, come up with your personal celebratory dance for if your team wins. Maybe even get a few friends to join in as you take Giant Steps or do a Patriot Pirouette. Secondly, you need some bottles of bubbly to keep the party going after the last second has ticked away. And we're not taking about champagne here, because this is not French football we're watching. (Can you imagine Gronkowski or Ballard heading a crossing pass?) So you'll need some American sparkling wine, maybe even stuff from Massachusetts or New York. More about that later.

Choosing wines for your Super Bowl party should be done with the same philosophy as putting together a game plan. Cover all the bases, be prepared for anything, have a few surprises of your own up your jersey, and be ready to celebrate in style.

You don't want to serve something too basic, like jug wines or the cheaper boxes. That's a sure way to have all your guests switch to beer. By the same token, don't bring out your best bottles, because they won't be fully appreciated and perhaps (worse) may not even be noticed. This is not a wine tasting, and watching the big game keeps everyone super busy. True, there was a time when you had bathroom and refrigerator breaks while watching Super Bowls. Today, you need total concentration. The day after the game, everyone will be talking about the hottest commercials as much as the game itself.

So let's get started. At minimum, you'll need a basic red, a fruity white, a dry white, and a sparkling.

The most masculine of American reds are zinfandels and syrahs, and both are built to go with anything from chili and burgers to barbecue and hot wings. Generally, the best zins come from Sonoma County, and some that are widely available and reasonably priced are Ravenswood, Rancho Zabaco, and Mauritson. Syrahs and Rhône blends are often a little less fruity than the zins, but they have good, rich, earthy — even chocolate — flavors. Sonoma also makes some good ones of these, such as Cline, Seghesio, and Clos du Bois. Also try those from Paso Robles, including Liberty School Cuvée, Rabbit Ridge, and Eberle.

OK, whites. Rieslings are fruity, often a little sweet, and generally, a tad lower in alcohol than other wines — so you can drink more of them. Cold rieslings also go well with any spicy Asian food that you might be having. If you're hosting a large group, ice down a bucket or tub full of them. They can stand the cold. Some of the best affordable rieslings come from Washington and Oregon, so look to those from Mercer Estates, Pacific Rim, and Hogue.

We'll go back to Sonoma County for a dry white (they seldom make wines in Napa that are cheap because of the overhead). Although sales figures show that everyone drinks chardonnay, people still say they don't like it, so let's go with sauvignon blanc. Sauvignons from California tend to be less crisp and "aromatic" than those of New Zealand, and they are flavorful and full enough to please those people who like chardonnay but say they don't. Sauvignon is also closest to being an all-purpose white when it comes to pairings with birds, fish, and cheeses. Try those from Kenwood, Rodney Strong, and Dry Creek.

Finally, whether or not you drink bubbly during the game or save it for afterward, you'll want to have plenty on hand. In the old days, politicians were friendly enough that they would bet each other a bottle of their best local versus their opponent's best local. You can still do that if your party is a mix of Pats fans and ex-Pats fans.

New York wines are better known that those of Massachusetts, but when it comes to sparkling wines, both have good selections. If you live in the Northeast, have on hand some Westport Rivers Brut if the Patriots win and some sparklers from Wölffer, Bedell, or Shinn if the Giants are victorious.

If you live elsewhere, the bubblies from Gruet in New Mexico are very nice, relatively inexpensive, and widely available.

Now, about that victory dance — spiking the empty bottle of brut is considered excessive celebration and may draw a severe penalty.