Most people reading this article, especially if you reside within the States, are familiar with the concept of tailgating. For the unenlightened, a tailgate is an outdoor party centered almost exclusively around American football. Tailgating season runs from the late-summer swelter of August to the frigid chill of January. The essential materials are what you would find at most other cookouts: barbequed meats, lawn games, and, perhaps most crucially, beer. As the choice beverage of nearly every tailgate, it seems almost unfathomable that a football rendezvous could put any other form of alcohol front-and-center. Alas, great innovations were not made by simply sticking to the status quo. As the legendary gridiron coach Vince Lombardi once said, “We would accomplish many more things if we did not think of them as impossible.” You guessed it, vino fans – we’re bringing wine to the party.

One of the advantages of replacing beer with wine at a tailgate is the increased range of options you have to choose from. As mentioned earlier, tailgating takes place during several months of the year, so it’s important to incorporate climate into our decision-making process. Location plays a factor as well, as some varietals may be more popular than others in certain areas. However, this article should serve more as a general guide than a hyper-specific manual to follow.

Old-school tailgating
Bring wine to your tailgating parties this year.

Rosé: Start of the College Football Season

There’s nothing quite like the energy you feel at the kickoff of the college football calendar. Students and alumni get up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday morning to live (and re-live) out a seminal period of their lives. Most colleges start their schedules during the first week of September just before Labor Day weekend. This timeline coincides perfectly with the end of rosé season. One thing that beer and rosé have in common during the summertime is their need to be chilled. Place a bottle or two of the Louis Jadot Rosé into your cooler and your classmates will thank you.

Canned Port Cocktail: Postgame Victory Drink

Chip & Dry TonicEvery big win is usually saluted with a drink afterwards in the parking lot. At the same, this is where beer holds a distinct advantage – no one wants to crack open an entire bottle of wine only to leave shortly after. However, innovative thinking extends not only to a choice of beverage, but also to the packaging in which said beverage is stored. The Taylor Fladgate Chip Dry & Tonic resolves this dilemma by coming in a slick 250ml can, ready to be cracked open at a moment’s notice. With an ABV of 5.5%, it’s no more potent than your average beer – though it makes up for it in flavor. If you really want the full Port experience, pack a few chocolate sweets to celebrate with as well.

Pinot Noir: Thanksgiving Day Games

Although most of us will be (for better or worse) gathering with our extended families on Turkey Day, a select few will be in attendance at one of the two Thursday games. The Dallas Cowboys and the Detroit Lions play host every Thanksgiving, so this section will resonate especially well with our readers in Texas and Michigan. There’s a good chance that your cuisine will be residual scraps of the big meal, so it’s best to pair your food with a versatile varietal such as Pinot Noir. The St. Francis Sonoma County Pinot Noir is a stellar wine to match with turkey and baked potatoes. If you’re more of a Cabernet person, no worries – the St. Francis Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon will suit your needs as well.

Prosecco: Playoffs, Baby

The calendar has flipped to the new year. If your team is still in action, you’ve probably got a good squad on your hands – which means you need to plan accordingly. No one looks like a bigger schmuck than the guy who has nothing to celebrate a playoff victory with. This time of year already lends itself to situations where sparkling wine is enjoyed, and there’s nothing like breaking out the bubbly once you win the big one. The Caposaldo Prosecco is a natural fit for this occasion. Comprised of 100% Glera, this wine goes great with light cheese and antipasti – perfect side dishes for any tailgate party.

And there you have it – if you’re not a fan of beer, that’s no reason to stay home and watch on the couch. While you might get a few odd looks at first, introducing wine to your tailgate has the potential to be both fun and original.


Jack worked as a copy editor for Wine365. While still a relative novice to the wine industry, he has been able to interact with some of the most respected winemakers in the world, such as Didier Debono of Alta Vista and Julian Grounds of Craggy Range. Jack has poured wine and provided tasting direction at Wine Spectator’s New York Wine Experience and James Suckling’s Great Wines of the Andes.

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