Ahhhhhh. College football season is in the air. For at least the next 16 weeks, college football fans have the pleasure of following their favorite team in a quest for glory. A few teams played their first game last week. SEC play starts Thursday night, but most importantly, my beloved Vols play this Saturday. It’s one of the most highly anticipated seasons in recent memory, and I for one can hardly wait to see what the future holds. But we all know that college game day is about more than the game of football. It’s also about the tailgating, and no one does it better than we do in the South.
For the 2015 football season, SEC teams dominate top college football best tailgating/best atmosphere rankings. Bleacher Report has 10 SEC teams in the top 25, 7 in the top 10. Tennessee ranks 4th. USA Today has five SEC schools on its top 10 list, with Tennessee also ranking 4th. NFL.com has the Vols tied at 15, with six other SEC schools in the top 15. Southerners know how to throw a party. In the South, tailgating comes second to only one other social event – a wedding.
So what makes a good tailgate party? That’s simple. Family, friends, great drinks and even better food.
A tailgate in the South wouldn’t be a tailgate without the wide array of food. LSU fans are famous for their unique Creole and Cajun dishes, while Texas A&M fans brag about their grilled fare. But here in Big Orange Country, we live and die by our barbeque. Some fans set up as early as the night before, smoking their favorite meats and treats overnight. Others start early morning doing the same. But the best of the tailgaters know the secret to an easy and enjoyable game day: bring in the Dead End. They have game day packages that appeal to any budget and any amount of people. Whether a “small” gathering of 20, or any multiple of that, there’s something for everyone. From smoked meats and sides, to appetizers and veggie trays, Dead End Barbeque has it all. Just be prepared for the visiting fan that stops by and chats a while. Here in Knoxville, we are well-known for our Southern hospitality. Don’t disappoint.
Let’s not forget the accompaniment to any good Dead End meal – the vino.
Oh, I’m sure you’ll have your sodas, ice teas, bottled waters and cold brew, but don’t forget those of us who enjoy a refreshing glass of wine. Wine can be the perfect accessory on a warm game day. Whether you order the pulled pork, pulled chicken or smoked sausage, you can’t go wrong with glass of sangria. I recommend the Plaza Real Sangria from Spain. Made from Spanish grapes, this tastes like the real thing. It is subtly sweet, not overpowering, with hints of dark cherry, blackberry and wild strawberry. Keep it simple by making a batch. Pour an entire bottle or two in a pitcher, adding frozen mixed berries to keep it cold. Pour over ice in your favorite glass and top with club soda for a little fizz. It’s that easy.
Another great choice is single-serving, or .187 bottles of Prosecco, Italy’s version of bubbly. My favorite is Riondo Prosecco. It’s perfect for game days because it has a screw cap, and it’s small enough to fit in any cold beverage cooler. This light-bodied Prosecco is slightly sweet and bubbly, with hints of fresh fruit and a clean, delicate finish. Riondo would pair perfectly with the Dead End BBQ Meat & Cheese Tray or the Dead End BBQ Fruit Tray. Lastly, since most tailgates tend to get a little spicy, I would also recommend having a medium-sweet Riesling. My favorite is Blufeld Riesling from Mosel, Germany. This Riesling is semi-sweet, but has enough acidity to cut through sweetness, making way for another glass. It comes in a classic blue bottle, and like the Riondo, has a screw cap. This would be perfect with the Dead End BBQ Buffalo Chicken Dip or any meat with the spiciest sauce you can handle.
There’s nothing quite like game day in the South. Not much compares to spending a day with family, friends and sometimes strangers, enjoying the simple things in life: football, fellowship and great food. I hope you enjoy this season, and I hope that as you follow your team on its quest for glory, that you take the time to enjoy some Dead End Barbeque and some Vino!
Knoxville Beverage Company