This tailgating menu hits the spot with spicy grilled ribs, rich stew, crunchy salad, and the perfect wine


For passionate fans of the University of Washington football team, game days can be a slingshot ride from victory to heartbreak. But no matter how their team fares, one longtime group of tailgaters always has a winning lineup.

The tailgaters ― a rotating group of Seattle-area restaurateurs, winemakers, and professionals ― take turns making the food.

Today, chef Christopher Hartfield, best known for stints at restaurants like Bandoleone and Serafina, is manning the grill. “Each year we take it up a bit,” he says. “We started with hot dogs, but here we’re giving the menu a twist.”

“We’re evolving,” says David Crouch, a Seattle-area orthodontist. “Now that we have winemakers in our group, we’ve thrown out the box wine.”

They’ve also extended the party well past game time, often catching the plays on radio or television as they continue feasting. Such is the case this day, and as the sound of 70,000 Husky fans howling in disappointment floats over the parking lot, Crouch lifts a glass, smiles, and says, “The lousier the team, the better the party.” 


This menu is tailor-made for local beers like Pyramid Amber Weizen and Hale’s Mongoose IPA. But we were happy to find several Washington wines that paired very well with these dishes.

DeLille Cellars Doyenne Ciel du Cheval Roussanne 2004 (Red Mountain, WA; $25). The best across-the-board match, standing up to the ribs, salad, and stew, thanks to pleasing lemon-lime notes, lively acidity, and a hint of residual sugar.

DiStefano Sauvignon Blanc 2005 (Columbia Valley, WA; $13). Green pepper and citrus flavors complement the stew.

DiStefano Syrah R 2003 (Columbia Valley, WA; $34). Lean and minerally, with just enough fruit, it is a good partner for both the ribs and the stew.

Maryhill Zinfandel 2004 (Columbia Valley, WA; $20). Sweet-seeming berry flavors hold up to the spice in the ribs, with just enough alcohol to cut through the richness.


What’s your game day favorite?
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