Super wines to match Super Bowl seafood dishes

Hooray! It’s going to be a Seafood Super Bowl. San Francisco vs. Baltimore. Cioppino vs. Chesapeake Bay blue crab. The signature foods of the two cities will be as exciting as the game. Maybe even as exciting as the TV ads.

For an indoor tailgate party at home during the game, it would only be appropriate to serve the favorite foods of our favorite teams.

And, of course, we will need some fabulous wine matches.

Oh, and the game will be played in New Orleans, the home of Cajun cooking and another super seafood city.

Let’s start with San Francisco, where the signature dish is cioppino, the fragrant seafood stew created during the Gold Rush by immigrant Italian fishermen seeking to use their catch. Imagine big pieces of Dungeness crab, rock cod, mussels, shrimp, calamari and whatever else is at hand in a light and flavorful broth of tomato, onion, garlic, olive oil, wine, saffron and marjoram, with fist-sized chunks of sourdough bread to sop up the juices.

The wine for this? Rose. Not a sugar-heavy, Kool-Aid-clone blush wine, but an intensely fruity, bone-dry, tart-finishing extra crisp rose.

•  2010 Bonterra Rose, Mendocino County (45 percent sangiovese, 26 percent zinfandel, 15 percent carignane, 9 percent grenache): crisp, dry and lively, with aromas and flavors of tart strawberries and spice; $14.

Now, in Baltimore, the signature dish is the much-prized blue crab of Chesapeake Bay — steamed in beer, drenched in butter and served on a table covered with old newspapers and a wooden mallet to crack the shell.

Or maybe it’s the Maryland crab cake, made with big lumps of those blue crabs held together by mayo, Dijon mustard, egg and lemon juice.

With either dish, the signature spice would be Baltimore’s savory, potent, iconic Old Bay Seasoning, with its celery salt, paprika and, some say, everything from bay leaves to cardamom.

The wine? A juicy, mouth-watering albarino, the delicate, floral wine the Galicians of northwest Spain drink with octopus and garlic eels from the chilly North Atlantic Ocean.

•  2011 Lo Nuevo “Covello” Albarino, Rias Baixas, Spain: floral aromas, light body, extra-crisp, with flavors of ripe peaches and a dry finish; $15.

Finally, in a nod to New Orleans, we might copy a signature dish from K Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen there, with its genius chef Paul Prodhomme. Maybe the famous blackened fish — dredged in butter and the chef’s famous seasoning mix of black pepper, white pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, onion, garlic, thyme and oregano and seared in a white-hot cast-iron pan.

What wine would handle that? I’d suggest Conundrum, a rich, multi-grape white blend with a hint of sweetness to handle the heat.

•  2011 Conundrum White Wine, by Caymus Vineyards, Calif. (chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, muscat canelli, viognier and semillon): exotic, full-bodied and complex, with aromas of lavender and honeysuckle and flavors of ripe peaches, spice, vanilla and apples; $22.

Fred Tasker has retired from The Miami Herald but is still writing about wine for the McClatchy News Service. He can be reached at

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