The Olympics Go Great With Wine

As another recent blog alluded to, we usually think of beer when we think about watching sports, but what about the famed, and very unique Olympics? 

Did you know that there actually was an official Wine Olympics?  Yep, in 1979 a French food and wine mag organized a competition featuring 330 wines from 30 countries, evaluated by 62 judges from 10 different countries.  Boy, to be a spectator at that event!  Though we’re not sure cheering and cow-bell ringing would have been appropriate. 

This competition appears to have taken shape after the now infamous 1976 ‘Judgment of Paris’ competition in which a handful of American wines — like Napa Valley’s Trefethen — took top honors above many French wines which were always thought to be superior to any other viniferous offerings the world could produce (giving yet another example of the sports world’s “you gotta lace ‘em up” mantra). 

Anyway, the great winemaking folks in Oregon point to this major world event (the Wine Olympics) as the birth of the Oregon wine industry when one of their own Pinots placed third against a stacked field of Burgundian ones. 

Okay, now that you know it’s cool to sip wine while watching bobsledders sled, speed skaters skate, lugers luge, and all the other awesome winter athletes ‘lacing them up’ in the rest of the beautiful Winter Olympic sports, you’re probably wondering what to pair with which events.

As far as the racy, pulse-pounding short track speed skating (where they fly around tiny little ovals of ice at breakneck speeds in an icy demolition derby it often seems), try a racy Oregon Pinot. 

For the more muscular and powerful bobsledding, try a big-bodied Napa Cab!

For everyone’s favorite quirky cult sport, curling, try curling up with a quirky orange wine.  Orange wine isn’t actually orange (nor is it made from oranges!) it’s simply a white wine that’s allowed to sit on its skins rather than being pressed out immediately.  It picks up some color, tannins, and extra structure giving it a funky, earthy tone. 

As for the elegant, uplifting figure skating, why not go with an elegant Bordeaux-style blend (where they perfectly match a few of the five noble French red grapes).

And don’t be afraid to pour some crisp Sauvignon Blanc for the death-defying, jaw-dropping freestyle snowboard and ski events.  You’ll probably want something crisp and refreshing so you don’t pass out while watching them twist and flip through the air off those massive jumps! 

And if you really want to imbue your bingeing with the full spirit of the Olympics you can go for something from the slopes of the Game’s namesake, Mt. Olympus in Greece where wine has been made for thousands of years, perhaps since just around the time that the first Olympic Games were held.  Coincidence?

It’s no wonder that wine goes exceptionally well with international competitions.  So, cheers to all the incredible Olympic athletes and cheers to your Olympic wine experience!

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Posted in Food and Wine Pairings/Recipes

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