Perhaps it's my tiny universe, but wine seems to be crossing a crucial threshold. Parties whose alcoholic lineup formerly included only beer (in kegs) and vile vodka from Idaho now mingle with white and reds. This highly anecdotal evidence is backed up with stats from the Wine Institute, a trade group based in California that reports American wine consumption rose 3.8 percent from 2006 to 2007. Other reports declare a similar jump last year as well. So is it maybe time to suggest wines be served at the ultimate Manfest -- Super Bowl? Hell, why not?
Is rosé too wussy?
Since we're breaking boundaries, I might as well tackle the pink stuff. Real men do drink salmon-tinted wine, and might even deign to use that frou-frou phrase to describe it. I've seen men with highly defined pectorals and biceps drinking rosé, although the term "metrosexual" might make an appropriate descriptor for them. But nary a pinky floated in the air and they seemed quite secure. Should any host catch a cross-eyed look from a 'roided meathead, defend yourself by telling them pink wines will make their testicles grow. Good bets: Turkey Flat Vineyards, Monkey Bay, Bonterra, Columbia Crest Two Vines, Folie a Deux.
More on rosé wine
Nothing's wrong with serving cheap stuff
No one has to know or maybe you can be "recession proud" and publicize your cheap ass. Buy a decent boxed wine, siphon some into a fancy decanter and kick back as everyone oohs and aahs. If you'd like to go higher-brow (with bottles instead), look to Spain: Garnacha (aka grenache) and tempranillo are not only inexpensive red wines, they're tough enough for a manly palate and can stand up to a batch of flame throwin' hot wings or ribs.
More on Spanish wine
Boxed wine recommendations
Sangria stretches the budget
Everyone, and I mean everyone, freakin' loves sangria. It's an excuse to drink sweet wine without admitting you like sweet wine. Even if it's made from the worst rotgut ever vinified, add the right amount of sugar, juice, spice and liquor and voilá, touchdown. Good recipes can be as sacred as the family bible and guarded as much as Super Bowl rings so I've assembled some winners online. My favorite has easy ingredients and is so cheap it squeaks.
Or go super classy...
Say you're a Steelers fanatic and really want to share your cherished booty with like-minded friends. Pull out the sacred wines you've saved for a special occasion -- isn't this one of them? Or, have a bottle of bubbly on hand to celebrate the victory or defeat of your arch rival. You can't fumble with that plan.
Francis Coppola 2007 Alicante Bouchet Lodi (California) An esoteric grape from a prolific producer, alicante bouchet is a throwback to Prohibition days when people clandestinely crafted wine in their bathtubs. One of the only grapes that yields actual red juice, the wine can be rich and lush when made right. This one, made from 85-year-old vines, is light-hearted but has a serious side: Blackberry, black cherry, cinnamon and vanilla with a slap of tannic leather on the finish. SW, HS, S. $16. 4 stars.
Sweet (SW), Hypersensitive (HS), Sensitive (S) and Tolerant (T). Find your tasting profile at budometer.com.