On Sunday, Feb. 5, the NFL’s Super Bowl LI lands in Houston's NRG Stadium, pitting the high-flying Atlanta Falcons offense against four-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. For wine lovers heading to Texas for the big game, don't sleep on Space City's dining scene: H-Town is a haute cuisine hotbed, and the Lone Star State has a stacked roster of Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winners.
Most of us, however, will be eating and drinking at home for the big game. To make the most of our hosting opportunity, and to celebrate Atlanta's first trip to the Super Bowl since 1999, we've asked chef Christopher Grossman of Atlanta's Award of Excellence–winning Atlas restaurant for a few Falcons-themed recipes: Atlas Sliders with smoked gouda–pimento cheese, and Atlas Steak, with fondant potatoes and garlic-braised spinach.
The Super Bowl is familiar territory for Patriots fans—this is Brady's seventh trip—so we've dipped into our long list of Boston-themed recipes and picked two familiar winter favorites: Neptune Oyster New England Clam Chowder and Island Creek Oyster Stew. And when feeding a lot of mouths, no one should go thirsty; to that effect we've drafted 22 great wine values—11 reds and 11 whites—all priced at less than $20.
Georgia is home to some of the finest down-home Southern cookin' and barbecue in the world: shrimp and grits, fried chicken and biscuits, Brunswick stew, slow-cooked ribs, peach cobbler and pecan pie. But the Atlanta dining scene has for years been on the leading edge of the movement making comfort cuisine cosmopolitan, and nobody classed-up the joint more than Atlas restaurant when it opened in the St. Regis hotel in January 2015.
The crown jewel of the Tavistock Restaurant Collection, the Atlas dining room serves as a museum for the art collection of Tavistock founder Joe Lewis; guests enjoy their wine-and-food pairings in the company of a rotating selection of works by Marc Chagall, Chaim Soutine, Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and others. Chef Grossman was lured away from Napa's Grand Award–winning French Laundry, and wine director Caleb Hopkins oversees a carefully curated list of about 250 wine selections. But it's not all high cuisine and white tablecloths at Atlas: The restaurant's new tavern menu stars sliders (wagyu) and pot pie (lobster).
The Atlas Sliders recipe we've included tips its hat to one of Georgia's comfort-food classics with a smoked gouda–pimento cheese topping. (For a deep dive into pimento cheese's place in Southern cuisine, check out last year's Super Bowl feature on Charlotte, N.C.'s Common Market.) Grossman's wagyu rib-eye cap is accompanied by decadent fondant potatoes and a creamy béchamel sauce.
But whether you opt for sliders or steak, wine or beer, Atlas' Hopkins has your pairings covered. He says think outside the box when it comes to pairing wine and beef: With Atlas Steak he goes for Sartori Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Corte Brà 2009. "It's a really fun alternative to Cabernet Sauvignon for matching steak," Hopkins explains. "The dried fruit sings once it interacts with the béchamel, and the ripe blackberries and plums [in the wine] come jumping out once you get the fat from the steak. It's all about balancing."
If beer is more your speed, reach for a Georgia Brown ale from SweetWater, a local Atlanta brewery whose roots stretch back to the craft-brewing incubator of Boulder, Colo.
But you won't be able to get any of that at Atlas on Super Bowl Sunday—the restaurant is closing (to the public) for the night to host a party for its Falcons-devoted staff. "I'm from here, born and raised, so I've been a Falcons fan since forever," Hopkins said. "It's unbelievable to see the energy in the city [right now]. People everywhere are wearing Falcons garb and talking about the Falcons. It's amazing."
Atlanta vs. New England Super Bowl Party Recipes
Note: The following list is a selection of outstanding and very good wines from recently rated releases. More value wines can be found in our Wine Ratings Search. Or download our free Xvalues app for iOS.
BUITENVERWACHTING Sauvignon Blanc Constantia Bayten 2016
This is refined, with a steely spine that lets gooseberry, verbena and white peach flavors streak through. A hint of shortbread adds range and mouthfeel along the edges. The long finish has lovely cut. Drink now through 2019. 5,000 cases imported.
ROBERTO ANSELMI Veneto White San Vincenzo 2015
An expressive white, creamy and lightly juicy throughout, offering flavors of blood orange granita, fresh tarragon, yellow peach and mineral, set in a light-bodied frame. The finish is juicy. Garganega with Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Drink now through 2019. 41,660 cases made.
BRANCOTT Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2015
Fragrant and juicy, with apple blossom, lime zest and chive blossom notes surrounding a core of intense and refreshing lemon and grapefruit flavors. Drink now. 150,000 cases imported.
ELK COVE Pinot Gris Willamette Valley 2015
Vivid and expansive, with tangy pear and cantaloupe flavors that play against hints of lime, finishing with polish. Drink now through 2019. 16,000 cases made.
RAVINES Riesling Finger Lakes Dry 2015
Still youthfully tight, this brims with tension as the long, minerally spine holds the core of yellow apple, star fruit and white peach flavors together. Shows serious cut and drive on the finish, with a mouthwatering echo of dried fennel seed. Best from 2018 through 2022. 5,125 cases made.
CHARLES SMITH Riesling Ancient Lakes Of Columbia Valley Kung Fu Girl Evergreen 2015
Tangy and zingy, with lively acidity that balances against gobs of ripe pear and apricot flavors, carrying through the long, lime-accented finish. Drink now through 2020. 160,000 cases made.
LACHETEAU Vouvray 2015
Very fresh, with lively pippin apple, green almond and green melon rind notes streaming along, backed by a light quince echo on the pure finish. Drink now through 2018. Tasted twice, with consistent notes. 19,170 cases imported.
POMELO Sauvignon Blanc California 2015
Lemon-lime, ruby grapefruit and green apple flavors are crisp and refreshing, with a note of matcha green tea on the finish. Drink now. 28,000 cases made.
BOGLE Chardonnay California 2014
Smooth and creamy, this is moderately rich and succulent, offering an elegant mix of pear, honeydew and fig flavors, with touches of citrus and spice. Ends clean and pure. Drink now. 583,000 cases made.
VIÑEDOS ERRÁZURIZ OVALLE Chardonnay-Viognier Colchagua Valley Viñedos Marchigüe Panilonco Reserve 2015
A buttery white, with well-spiced flavors of ripe pear, roasted peach and Golden Delicious apple, followed by notes of honeysuckle on the fleshy finish. Drink now. 40,000 cases made.
LINDEMANS Chardonnay South Eastern Australia Bin 65 2015
Ripe peach and pear flavors show plenty of floral intensity, with a juicy, spicy finish. Drink now. 140,000 cases imported.
COLUMBIA CREST Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley Grand Estates 2014
Broad and generous, open-textured and inviting, with cherry, currant and red plum flavors that swirl enticingly around the fine-grained tannins and creamy oak on the finish. Drink now through 2018. 170,000 cases made.
M. CHAPOUTIER Côtes du Roussillon-Villages Les Vignes de Bila-Haut 2015
This has finesse, with an iron core surrounded by blackberry, cassis, plum and garrigue flavors. Full tannins offer structure, with details of olive and bay leaf that linger into the savory finish. Drink now through 2020. 60,000 cases made.
HESS FAMILY LATIN AMERICA Malbec Salta Amalaya 2015
A fleshy red, with concentrated blackberry and dried blueberry flavors supported by fresh acidity. Mineral and dark chocolate notes linger with hints of white pepper on the finish. Drink now through 2020. 50,000 cases made.
VIÑA MONTES Cabernet Sauvignon Colchagua Valley Classic Series 2014
There's minerally freshness to the ripe dark plum, blackberry and cherry flavors, with peppery hints. Well-structured and crisp midpalate, featuring Asian spice and black fig notes on the finish. Drink now through 2020. 50,000 cases imported.
SNOQUALMIE Syrah Columbia Valley 2013
Sleek and seductive, this offers cherry, pomegranate, pepper and floral flavors carried by fine tannins that drape over the palate, finishing gently. Drink now through 2020. 10,000 cases made.
19 CRIMES Cabernet Sauvignon South Eastern Australia 2014
Offers good intensity, with raspberry and cherry flavors bursting through the creamy body, accented by red licorice and dried rose petal hints. Displays a slight chew to the tannins on the finish. Drink now through 2026. 100,000 cases imported.
CASA FERREIRINHA Douro Esteva 2014
A richly spiced and juicy red, filled with succulent flavors of cherry, raspberry and plum, backed by firm acidity. White pepper accents show on the fresh finish. Pinot Noir, Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca and Aragonez. Drink now through 2019. 166,666 cases made.
HOUSE WINE Red America 2014
This has a rich, ripe aroma, with a pomegranate element balancing the ripe cherry and spice flavors. Shows presence and suppleness. Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Carmenère. Drink now through 2019. 12,000 cases made.
FOUR VINES Zinfandel Lodi Old Vine 2014
Jammy and soft, with appealing notes of blackberry and smoky pepper. Drink now through 2025. 10,000 cases made.
CHARLES SMITH Merlot Washington The Velvet Devil 2014
Polished, fresh and inviting, with pretty currant and floral flavors, wrapped in a velvety texture as the finish lingers gently. Drink now. 149,500 cases made.
YELLOW TAIL Big Bold Red South Eastern Australia NV
Ripe and supple, with plum and berry flavors that mingle with notes of vanilla and root beer on the finish. Shiraz, Durif, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Merlot. Drink now through 2026. 697,898 cases imported.