Best wines to pair with your favorite tailgate foods

Best wines to pair with your favorite tailgate foods

By Nia Ruth

Tailgate season is upon us, and while it may feel like it’s time to start opening your favorite beers, it’s actually the perfect time to start sipping wine at your next game day party! There are so many delicious wines that pair perfectly with classic game day dishes, from appetizers and dips to main dishes. Read on for the perfect wines to pair with each tailgate food, and why they make the perfect pairing!   

Nachos + Riesling

Nachos are a staple at every tailgate, I mean, what’s better than a combination of queso, guacamole, jalapenos, and all of the tasty toppings?! The main flavors in nachos are creamy cheese and spicy toppings, so you’ll want to pair nachos with a wine with high acidity to cut through the creamy cheese, and with a slight sweetness to calm the spicy flavors. Riesling is the perfect pick! Try pairing your game day nachos with a Riesling from Mosel, Germany with high acid and a touch of sweetness like Dr. Loosen’s Riesling Kabinett!


Sliders + Cabernet Sauvignon

If kicking things off with sliders is your game plan, pair them with a Cabernet Sauvignon! Cabernet’s combination of berry and savory flavors complement heavy meats, and the tannin moderates the beef’s richness. If you’re looking to elevate your tailgate, pair your beef sliders with a bottle of one of Napa’s iconic Cabernets like Hall Winery or Trefethen Winery. For a lighter body Cabernet with just as much flavor (but a less hefty price tag!), look for a Cabernet from a producer in Washington State’s Walla Walla Valley like L’Ecole 41


Spinach Artichoke Dip + Sauvignon Blanc

Creamy, tangy spinach artichoke dip needs a wine with high acid to cut through the cream, and with tart flavors to match the tanginess in the spinach and artichoke. Sauvignon Blanc checks all of the boxes! Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand are high acid, known for their fresh citrus and grassy flavors, and pair really nicely with creamy dips, especially spinach artichoke! Try Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand for all of the tangy, creamy deliciousness! 


Fried Chicken + Champagne

When fried chicken makes its way to your tailgate, champagne is an absolute must! Champagne cuts through the salt and oil in fried chicken and refreshes your palate with every sip. Crisp bubbles pair perfectly with all fried, salty foods, so you’ll also want to pull out a bottle of sparkling if you’re having french fries or potato chips at your tailgate too - it’s a pairing made in heaven! For the big game, pick up a bottle of champagne by Laurent-Perrier or Billecart-Salmon. For your everyday tailgate, try a Cremant, a sparkling wine made in France outside of the Champagne region using the champagne method (but at a more affordable price point), like Faire la Fete’s Brut Cremant de Limoux


Pizza + Italian Wine

Ordering a pizza and watching the game is one of the best ways to spend a Sunday! A food pairing rule of thumb is “what grows together, goes together”, so I recommend pairing pizza (and all Italian dishes!) with Italian wine! High acid, medium bodied Italian red wines like Sangiovese and Barbera pair really nicely with the acid in tomato sauce, and the acid in the wine also cuts through the creaminess of the cheese. One of my favorite Sangioveses comes from Pope Valley Winery in Napa Valley (a bottle that was a fan favorite when it was featured in my Wine Club!), and for an even more authentic pairing experience, try an Italian Sangiovese, also known as Chianti. I love the Chianti from Brancaia Winery! My favorite domestic Barbera is from Kehret Vineyards in the Sierra Foothills (another Wine Club favorite!), and my favorite Italian Barberas come from Piedmont, Italy. Try Azienda Agricola Curto Marco’s Barbera - it’s one of the vineyards I visited on my most recent trip to Barolo and I guarantee you will not be disappointed!  


Pulled Pork + Zinfandel 

A big sandwich to get you through to the end of the game is always a good idea! When you’re having a hearty pulled pork sandwich you’ll want to pair it with a wine with big, bold flavors to match, so grab a Zinfandel! Zinfandel is known for its juicy blueberry, plum, cherry, and jam flavors, and smoky, black pepper finish. The dark fruit flavors compliment the savory pork, and the smoky, peppery notes enhance the pork’s seasoning and smoky flavors. Try Robert Biale Vineyards Black Chicken Zinfandel, a Napa Valley classic! 

These wine and tailgate food pairings will be a win, no matter how your team does in the big game! 




This blog was written by Wine Expert, Nia Ruth.

"My goal is to source the most delicious small production, hard-to-find wines and teach you how to choose bottles you absolutely love, whether you’re overwhelmed at the wine shop or ordering a glass of wine with dinner at your favorite restaurant," Nia says. "We also connect you directly to small producers at our live tastings, and introduce you to a wine-loving community to give you a one-of-a-kind, like you’re at the winery experience!"

Learn more about Nia and read her blog at

Leave a comment