Wine and certain sports have long shared an association in sophisticated culture. Spectators of equestrian events, polo and golf often double as wine connoisseurs. There’s nothing wrong here; it’s perfectly fine to sip a trendy varietal while in posh company.
More recently, the global movement of affordable, widely available wines has made inroads with fans of decidedly “blue collar” sports. The result is that excellent wine pops up in venues you may not expect.
As wine lovers, we couldn’t be happier. Let’s raise a glass to these six unexpected sports and the wines that complement them so beautifully.
If football was a sumptuous flavor, then it would rival pumpkin spice as the King of Autumn easily. Come to think of it: football is a bit like a flavor, considering all the food and drinks possibilities the sport suggests.
But let’s focus on the wines.
Football season coincides with red wine season, and these unlikely twins peak around the holidays. You will need to bundle up when venturing out to a football game at this time of year, so why not pair the experience with a bold, warm red?
A Malbec, cabernet sauvignon, shiraz or Mourvèdre add delightful refinement to watching gridiron gladiators smash it out.
Baseball is the national pastime and a sport synonymous with the summer months. Translate these motifs into the language of wine, and we’re talking light, crisp and classic.
Factor in that games are also full of the sights and smells of handheld foods — hot dogs, hamburgers, fries and funnel cakes — and there’s an opportunity to “class up” the street-fair-style eats with an appropriate wine pairing.
We love classic whites with baseball. You can go dry with a pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc. Riesling makes for a sweeter varietal option while Moscato lends a lovely effervescent cheer.
Pelé famously described soccer as “the beautiful game.” The Brazilian legend wasn’t wrong. What most of the rest of the world calls “football” is an athletic chess match played on well-manicured grass. Players string together small pieces of strategy that suddenly result in electrifying goals.
The drawn-out, methodical nature of a soccer match suggests a wine pairing with complementary traits — something with complexity and body that lends to a slow sipping rhythm.
We think a port or sangria answer the call marvelously.
Australian Rules Football
Party rugby, part American football and part soccer; Australian rules football is a game as unique as the Down Under continent itself. Players hand pass, run and kick the oval ball to advance and score points — it’s an aggressive game that calls for an aggressive wine.
The home venue of several Australian Football League teams, including Collingwood, the current odds leader for the 2019 AFL Grand Final, Melbourne Cricket Ground doubles as a tasting room. There you will find monthly meetings of The Long Room Wine and Food Society, a dining club obsessed with wine culture.
We suggest a hardy Aussie shiraz the next time, and quite possibly, the first time you take in an Australian rules football match.
Yes, we said it: Bowling and wine go together. Not like in a traditional horse and carriage sense, but rather in a “that’s such a crazy idea it might work!” way.
From escape rooms to indoor skydiving to Topgolf, consumers have more participation-based entertainment options than ever. Bowling centers have had to upgrade their facilities and expand food and drink offerings to appeal to new clientele.
That means wine at the bowling alley.
Whether you’re the MVP of league night or a professional gutter ball roller, you can’t go wrong with basics like chardonnay, pinot grigio or Zinfandel.
Hockey is as rough and tumble a sport as they come. Players fistfight on the ice — it’s even encouraged! How’s that for a contrast to the more traditional wine setting of show horses elegantly galloping through an equestrian show?
But wine also offers a welcoming mellow to hockey’s harshness. A nice Chablis does the trick — the breathy acidity and dry, citrusy body recall oysters on the half shell surrounded by what else, ice.