Spice Your Tailgating Game Up with These Food and Wine Pairings

One of the best things about football season is tailgating (or virtual tailgating, if you're watching the game from home). Food, drinks, and friends gathered to make the best of every game, win or lose.

The good folks at Sutter Home Winery, based in St. Helena, California, and one of the largest family-run independent wineries in the United States, know exactly which Sutter Home wine goes well with football party food. If you're going spicy with your menu, you need something a bit sweeter (usually a white wine) to balance things out.

Sutter Home has shared some of their favorite spicy food and wine pairings with us, and we're sharing them with you. These recipes are perfect snacks for the party, but if your team (like mine, #WPS) gets faked out on a punt return, it's good to know you can always skip straight to the wine.

Try these four recipes and the Sutter Home wine pairing notes for your next football watching party.

Epic Dry-Rubbed Baked Chicken Wings

Sutter Home Wine
Sutter Home Winery

Coming to us from The Chunky Chef, these chicken wings are baked instead of fried, so they're tasty and less messy to make. The recipe serves six, but you can always double up if you have a hungry crowd to feed. You want to pair them with a sweeter, chilled wine to take the bite out of that spice (think Moscato wine or Sutter Home White Zinfandel).

Epic Dry Rub

  • 1/2 Tbsp ancho chile pepper

  • 1/2 Tbsp smoked paprika

  • 1/2 Tbsp onion powder

  • 1/2 Tbsp kosher salt

  • 3/4 Tbsp light brown sugar, packed

  • 3/4 tsp chili powder

  • 3/4 tsp paprika

  • 3/4 tsp cumin

  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (less if you're worried about the heat level)

  • 1/2 tsp dried mustard powder

  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano

  • 1/4 tsp dried ground thyme

Wings

  • 4 lbs chicken wings, thawed completely if using a frozen bag

  • 2 Tbsp vegetable or canola oil

Creamy Gorgonzola Sauce

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise

  • 3-6 Tbsp buttermilk

  • 1/4 cup sour cream

  • 2-3 oz crumbled gorgonzola cheese

  • 1 clove garlic, grated

  • 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice

  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 F degrees. Line a large baking sheet with two sheets of aluminum foil (or one heavy duty sheet). Top that with an oven-safe cooling rack and spray it with non-stick cooking spray and set aside. Combine all dry rub ingredients in a small mixing bowl, set aside. In a large mixing bowl, add chicken wings and vegetable oil and toss gently to coat. Sprinkle in about half to two-thirds of the dry rub mixture and use your hands to massage it into all of the chicken wings, coating evenly. Add chicken wings to a prepared baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes.

For the Gorgonzola sauce:
Add mayo, buttermilk, sour cream, 1.5 oz of the Gorgonzola cheese, garlic, lemon juice, pepper and salt to your food processor or blender. Process until smooth. Transfer to serving bowl and stir in remaining Gorgonzola cheese. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

Spicy Sriracha Juicy Lucy

Sutter Home Wine
Sutter Home Winery

The Bitter Side of Sweet brings us a spicy, cheesy burger recipe for four that will keep you powered for long games. If you're not familiar with this Midwestern regional favorite, it's basically a hamburger with the cheese inside. This version kicks the heat up with sriracha, so cool things down a bit with a glass of chilled Riesling.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ pounds lean ground beef

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 2 tablespoons sriracha

  • 4 ounces cheddar cheese divided into four squares

Directions:

Preheat grill or pan to medium heat. In a medium size bowl mix together beef, salt, and sriracha. Form medium size patties and place a cube of cheese in the center of four of the patties. Top the patties with the remaining four patties. Press edges together. Grill or pan fry for 10 minutes on each side or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

Hatch Chile Cheese Dip

Sutter Home Wine
Sutter Home Winery

Cheese dip is a must for any tailgate party. This spicy cheese dip from Fake Ginger uses fresh Hatch chilies and hot breakfast sausage to bring the heat. For a Sutter Home wine that balances that heat, try a chilled Moscato.

Ingredients:

  • 2 hatch chilies

  • 1 tsp olive oil

  • 1 white onion diced

  • 3 cloves garlic minced

  • 1 pound hot breakfast sausage

  • 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes

  • 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese shredded

  • 1 1/2 cups Monterey jack cheese shredded

  • cilantro (optional)

  • tortilla chips for serving

Directions:

Preheat broiler and then broil chilies for about five minutes on each side, or until charred. Once charred, transfer to a dish with a lid and let sit for 15 minutes. Remove skin, ribs, and seeds. Dice chilies and set aside. Preheat oven to 350F.
Heat olive oil over medium heat in a 10-inch cast iron skillet. Add onion and cook for two minutes, until slightly softened. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, just 30 seconds. Add sausage and cook, breaking up as it cooks. Once cooked through, drain off excess fat and add in diced tomatoes. Cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat and sprinkle green chilies on top of sausage mixture and top with both cheeses. Bake until cheese is melted and bubbly, about 15 minutes.
Sprinkle with cilantro and then serve immediately with tortilla chips.

Nashville Hot Chicken Tacos

Sutter Home Wine
Sutter Home Winery

You don't have to be a Titans fan to enjoy their hometown Nashville Hot Chicken. These tacos, which come from Saving Everyday, serve two to three people and are a healthy tailgating option (yes, they do exist!). Pair the tacos with a chilled sweet wine like a Sutter Home Moscato, White Zinfandel, or Pink Moscato.

Ingredients:

  • 6 hot chicken tenders (If you can't get your hands on hot chicken, any breaded chicken tender will do, and you can spice it up with your favorite hot sauce. If you want to fry up the chicken tenders yourself, a BBQ dry rub will work perfectly.)

  • 12 pieces Bibb lettuce (Bibb lettuce works best for lettuce tacos. Smaller, individual romaine leaves work well too.)

  • ¼ cup of your favorite bottled ranch dressing

  • ½ full-fat sour cream

  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

  • 1-2 tablespoons pickle juice

  • To serve, you'll need some sliced green onions, thinly shredded purple cabbage, and chopped fresh Italian parsley (optional)

Directions:

For the sauce, whisk together the sour cream, ranch, pepper, and one tablespoon of the pickle juice. Taste and adjust the pickle juice. Add more if you like, just be careful not to make the sauce too thin. Wash and dry 12 Bibb lettuce cups and stack two together to make six tacos. Sprinkle some purple cabbage on the bottom of each taco and place a chicken tender on top. Drizzle each taco with some sauce and garnish with a generous sprinkling of parsley and green onions.

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