How about a glass of rosé to go with that hot dog? It’s an unexpected combination but one that’s a winner according to Dan Smith, the President of Hospitality of Legends, the company that oversees the culinary offerings at Yankee Stadium. As baseball season rolls into full swing, and fans head to games to root for their favorite teams, it’s fun to ditch the same-old beer and try some creative thirst quenchers to pair with popular ballpark eats such as popcorn, peanuts, and, yes, hot dogs.
Along with expanding culinary options to appeal even to die-hard gastronomes, many stadiums around the country have bumped up their wine choices too, leaving imbibers with more to pick from than the usual cold brew. Even if your team doesn’t win the game, at least the below surprising matches are guaranteed to be a hit:
Smith likes rosés with hot dogs, the top selling food at Yankee Stadium, because they contrast well with the smokiness of the meat. “Rosés are dry but tend to be more fruit forward and balance out the fat and the sodium of the hot dog,” he said. He prefers ones with a Grenache-based grape such as McCall Rosé from Long Island and Underwood Rosé from Oregon. Otherwise, he suggests the rosé from Shinn Estate Vineyards in New York that’s made from a 100 percent Merlot grapes.
Micah Wells, a sommelier at Camden Harbour Inn in Camden, Maine, agrees that rosés are a hit with hot dogs because they cut through their fattiness, and his go-to match is an Austrian red sparkling called Leo Hillinger that’s made with a 100 percent Pinot Noir grapes.
Bring the glamour of Champagne to the ball park by sipping some bubbles while you nosh on popcorn, says Sean Parisi, the national beverage director for Levy Restaurants, a food service provider to more than a half-dozen ballparks including Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles and Wrigley Field in Chicago. “The great carbonation and the citrus flavors balance the saltiness of the popcorn plus the bubbles are refreshing and cleanse the palate,” he said. His hands down favorite pick is Piper-Heidsieck Rare 2002, a vintage Champagne that’s affordable and beautifully made.
Red wine purists rejoice. Here’s a ballpark staple that pairs well with a red, provided that it’s not too heavy or tannic — a killjoy quality on hot and sticky summer days and nights. “An overpowering red will drown out the burger,” said Wells. He suggests Pinot Noirs from California or Oregon because the slight smokiness characteristic of these wines are an ideal complement to the meat.
Parisi, meanwhile, recommends the Chimney Rock Cabernet Sauvignon for its satin mouth feel and elegant and silky finish.
A Riesling with some sweetness to counteract the hints of spice from the jalapenos in nachos is the way to go says Smith. His top pick is the Ovid Dry North Riesling from Boundary Breaks, a producer in the Finger Lakes in New York. “It’s a semi-dry wine that balances acidity with a touch of residual sugar which will help to balance the spiciness of the nachos,” he said. Alternatively, he says that a Moscato with gentle bubbles is a nice contrast to the crunchiness of the chips.
Wells likes Riesling too because it has round ripe fruit that plays off the heaviness of the cheese and says you won’t go wrong with Kung Fu Girl by Charles Smith from Washington state for its ripe pear and sweet spice notes and clean finish.
Peanuts are all about salt and fat according to Wells and do well with a juicy and fruity Chardonnay that washes away these flavors. “Anything too dry won’t quench your thirst,” he said. Those produced along the Sonoma coast match this profile like the Carneros Chardonnay from Silverado.
Smith leans more toward brighter, fruit forward reds such as Pinot Noirs from California or Washington while munching on peanuts. “They’re light yet have richness without being too overwhelming and work with the saltiness of the nuts,” he says.
The secret is out that fried chicken and Champagne are ideal partners, and drinking Prosecco with chicken tenders is the down and dirty version of this match. “The sweetness in the honey mustard sauce complements the Prosecco,” said Smith.
You won’t strike out with a bubbly and chicken tenders says Parisi, but he also likes Chardonnays for their notes of pineapple and baked apples. “The fat from the frying as well as the breading on the chicken will enhance the natural fruit flavors of the wine which are enjoyable on a warm day,” he says.