Tailgating celebrations are as legendary in the Southeastern Conference as winning football teams. At Alabama and Auburn, tents are pitched and RVs are parked in designated areas over both campuses.
Tailgating accoutrement must be the requisite school colors, adorned by appropriate school emblems. Grills are set out, tables are set and satellite dishes placed so that games may be watched from the comfort of one’s own plot of ground.
At Ole Miss, the legendary tailgating scene at the Grove can be quite elaborate. In a sea of red, white and blue tents, tables are set with fine linen and silver. Many fans pay homage to the past, dressing for the game with men in shirts and ties and ladies in their Sunday best.
Food for these venues is pretty uniform. Grilled meats dominate: burgers, sausages and pork along with traditional Southern favorites of fried chicken and pimento cheese.
Libations are served. Beer and wine reign supreme, along with inventive cocktails. At EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Fla. — the site each year for the Georgia-Florida Gators game — tailgating is so well known for its pre-game libations that it is dubbed “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.” SEC officials in recent years have discouraged such usage, causing some pundits to refer to it as “The Bacchanalia That Dare Not Speak Its Name.”
When considering wines for tailgating, look for good but inexpensive ones. Wines with alternate closures like screw caps and glass stoppers allow ease of opening. In this heat, be sure to plan for keeping both red and white wines chilled.
And don’t forget the glassware. Tyson Art and Frame offers a shatterproof, stem-less glass by Go Vino. For $2.75 each ($11 for four), these reusable tumblers get the job done when fancy glassware is not practical.
Consider these wines with screw cap closures:
Cruz Garcia Real Sangria. $8.99 at Winn Dixie. Made from Spanish red wine and citrus juice sealed with a screw cap. I don’t know why they call it real Sangria. It is either Sangria or it isn’t. Versatile. Add fruit or other libations. Serve over ice.
New Age White. In the $11 range at both Tyson Art and Frame in Golden Springs and The Wine Cellar on Quintard Avenue in Anniston. A slightly fizzy Argentinean white wine made from sauvignon blanc and malvasia. Refreshing quaff with fizzy lemon citrus flavors. Serve over ice with a twist of lime.
Merlot Lot 205. $8.50 at Tyson Art and Frame. Drinks like an expensive merlot. Rich, dark, berry fruit aromas and flavors. Robust, pleasant on the palate. Great for things cooked on the grill.
Montevina 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. $9.99 at The Wine Cellar. Montevina, owned by the Trinchero family, has massive vineyard holdings in prime grape growing regions of California, including Napa and the Sierra foothills of Amador County. The family is best known for introducing the world to white zinfandel. I have long been a fan of their red zinfandels, but this cabernet’s moderate weight makes it ideal for tailgating on warm fall days.