Super Bowl LIV kicks off in less than a week, pitting the San Francisco 49ers against the Kansas City Chiefs at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. It will be a day in which our appetites for highlight-reel touchdowns and bone-rattling sacks will be surpassed only by our literal appetites—according to last week's annual Chicken Wing Report from the National Chicken Council, Americans will consume a record 1.4 billion wings this weekend, and not all of them by Chiefs coach Andy Reid (rimshot!). Seriously though, according to the NCC, at a rate of three wings per minute, it would actually take Reid 900 years to eat that many wings.
Here at Wine Spectator we've been gearing up for the spectacle by shopping for great-value wines and digging into our recipe files for game-winning plays on some party favorites—including wings, of course!
Are spicy wings your perfect match-up for big-screen sports? Houston chef Chris Shepherd shared with us a crowd-pleasing recipe for the grill, inspired by his favorite local Indian joint. This version, from his book Cook Like a Local, piles on the spice—Thai chiles, ginger, cilantro and plenty of garlic—without sacrificing balance, and is finished off with a cooling yogurt-based dipping sauce and grilled mild peppers. He enjoys these wings with a Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley, or other dry and off-dry whites with the same vibrant acidity and ginger notes, such as bright Sauvignon Blancs and Rieslings. This recipe is inherently riffable; try it, then make your own spice blend, Shepherd says: “Hey, if you wanna blow your face off, go ahead, throw some serrano [peppers] in there, I don’t care. If you’re gonna do that, maybe invite me over.” Game on!
Love the new wings idea, but would miss the classic flavors of spicy Buffalo sauce at the buffet table? Slide it on over into savory mini-sandwiches that bring together make-ahead meatballs, creamy Gorgonzola cheese and soft dinner rolls. The strong flavors put up a challenge on the wine playing field, so use a big get-together as the perfect excuse to open a full lineup of bottles and see which one ends up the fan favorite. Try a fruity red Zinfandel bold enough to hold its ground, a Riesling with a touch of sweetness to offset the spice, or a fun, off-dry sparkling wine like Prosecco, whose refreshing bubbles will keep everyone going right into the championship celebration. That's baller!
Hugo Ortega’s haute and spicy nachos with refried black beans and avocado-tomatillo salsa are a slam-dunk party recipe. (Wrong sports allusion, you say? The Houston chef shared these for March Madness, but we're betting they take to the gridiron just as well.) Cribbed from the seasonal menu at Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence–winning Backstreet Café, this platter stars boldly smoky, peppery ground chorizo and savory-sweet boiled crawfish tails topped with bright flavors. With this decadent, crispy, queso-y indulgence, the restaurant group's beverage director, Sean Beck, calls on a medium-weight, off-dry Riesling from Austria as a great counterpoint. Light in alcohol, but vibrant and robust in flavor, it can handle the heat on the big day.
When it comes to a party, it's hard to go wrong with stuffed dough. These fun, handheld snacks can pack some seriously complex flavors, with this version drawing inspiration from Argentina, where raisins are a popular addition to empanada fillings. As they cook, the raisins transform into pleasant pops of sweetness amid the savory ground beef, balanced by the fresh acidity of tomatoes and the heat of red pepper flakes and spices. Use store-bought dough and skip the fancy crimping techniques and the empanadas will come together in just over an hour; you can even make these ahead of time and freeze them unbaked to pop in the oven later as needed. Match these with the ultimate come-back wine: a fresh, medium-bodied, easy-drinking Merlot. Make the conversion!
Easy to make, festive flautas—corn or flour tortillas stuffed with a filling, rolled up and fried—deliver a lot of flavor with minimal ingredients. Cumin, green onion and optional cilantro punch up the ground pork with spice and brightness, while creamy guacamole and a sprinkle of grated Cotija cheese add a final flourish. A couple of these will make a full meal, but for a party, serve them piled up on a platter with the guacamole on the side, cutting them in half to increase the number of individual pieces. You can make the filling ahead of time and even assemble the rolled tortillas; fry them just before the party and keep them warm in the oven. Trade your reds and whites for a Spanish rosado; this style of rosé has a fuller body and the zingy acidity of citrus and cherry to cut through fried food, carrying the match right into the end zone.