Pot Luck

Odd Pair: Wings and Wine

This year, one of our friends is having an Owner's Box-themed Super Bowl party. No rowdy keg-stands or beer pong here -- this party is all about class. But you can't watch football without Buffalo wings. How to class them up? You guessed it - wine.

Our trusty wine gurus at Spec's first asked us whether we were having spicy or non-spicy wings. Of course, we were having spicy. What's the point of the cool ranch dipping sauce if not to snuff out the fiery sweetness of the Buffalo sauce? But that's beside the point.

Instead of choosing a contrasting wine, they chose a complementary wine to bring out the flavor of the crispy wings. (We've recently learned that you can pair contrasting or complementary wines to highlight food.) "The Morandé Carmenére Reserva 2008 is earthy with white pepper and cocoa," I was told. "The spice of the wine will pick up the spice of the chicken."

On its own, this raspberry red Chilean wine was not a winner. What hits you first is the black fruit and peppery aroma, but the taste is mostly pepper with a long finish. This wine screams for a hearty meat dish. The Buffalo wings weren't a bad second place. The spicy Buffalo sauce and chicken combo mellowed out the strong flavors of the wine; the wings actually brought out its softer, more velvety side. We still didn't finish the glass, though.

Overall, wine and wings aren't a bad pair -- just don't go too spicy on the wings or too peppery on the wine. And if you do add wine to your Super Bowl party grocery list this year, just don't try to crush the bottles on your forehead.

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Jane Catherine Collins