More Culture:

November 16, 2017

Your best wine buys for $60, the Philly Marathon edition

Runners drink wine, and so shall you: A wine guide to the Philly Marathon

Wine Philly Wine Week
wines Jackie Botto/for PhillyVoice

Whether you’re cheering on the sidelines or lacing up your sneakers and hitting the pavement, we’ve got a wine to pair with that.

Today we’re recommending a few great wines that you can and should enjoy, for roughly $60 total, during all aspects of the Philly Marathon experience. 

Whether you’re cheering on the sidelines (hopefully, please, with a funny sign) or lacing up your sneakers and hitting the pavement, we’ve got a wine to pair with that. The internet is full of articles about the benefit of (a little) wine for athletes – it’s been shown to promote heart health, lower blood pressure, increase the levels of "good" cholesterol in the bloodstream and more. Scientists have even shown that some alcoholic beverages help prevent osteoporosis and reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease – a win for wine!

RELATED READS: Your best wine buys for $60, Halloween edition | Schuylkill Yards breaks ground in University City | Where to celebrate Beaujolais Nouveau Day in Philly

By the way - If you find the idea of sweaty marathoners drinking wine peculiar or just plain unbelievable, let it be known that every year, more than 8,000 costumed marathoners sip wine as they run 26.2 miles at Bordeaux’s Medoc Marathon, a course that winds through 59 of France's most prized vineyards. Wine is offered in lieu of sports drinks, and winners take home their weight in grand crus. Cheers to whoever came up with that one…

Jackie Botto/for PhillyVoice

Squadra Rosso is a Sicilian blend of Nero d'Avola and Nerello Mascalese that comes from a bicycle-racing winemaker who distributes his wine through the French Laundry in France.

Before the race: What to drink while cooking a carbo-load feast:

A pasta binge without wine is like bread without butter: It just ain’t right. 

Red sauce pasta is recommended for runners over something cream- or cheese-based (hello, digestion), and red sauce is at its most delicious when simmered with a healthy pour of Italian red wine. I love Squadra Rosso – this Sicilian blend of Nero d'Avola and Nerello Mascalese comes from a bicycle-racing winemaker who distributes his wine through the French Laundry alums that now run Colorado’s famed Frasca restaurant. Feel athletically inspired by the sleek cyclist on the front label – an actual ode to the winemaker, not a label gimmick. Then pour a glass into your sauce, and a glass for yourself. Stretch this out over two nights – they say it’s better to eat pasta for a few days before a race instead of just the night before. I say, treat the wine the same way.

Vine Street Imports/$22 btl at Di Bruno Bros.

Jackie Botto/for PhillyVoice

Frico Frizzante is Prosecco in a 5 oz. can.

During the race: What to drink while spectating

The cheer squad are the underappreciated heroes of the marathon experience – holding up funny signs and “push for power” buttons along the streets of Philadelphia make the whole grueling experience into something fun. (Though, still grueling.)

Sparkling wine can make anything a party, even watching 20,000 people run in the same direction. If you’re spectating, keep your spirits up with the perfect-for-any-occasion Frico Frizzante, a/k/a Prosecco in a can! Another great little wine to know from the Scarpetta label, these are adorable 5 oz. cans of perfectly dry, fizzy and portable Prosecco. You can stash a can in your pocket or purse with ease, and it’s nearly guaranteed to make standing on the side of the road for hours and holding up a gigantic poster board with a loved one’s face on it all the more fun.

Vine Street Imports/$6 per can

Jackie Botto/for PhillyVoice

Berger Grüner Veltliner is the invigorating, herbaceous white grape indigenous to Austria.

During the Race: What wine to hand out in Manayunk instead of beer

The passing out of beer in Manayunk is a beloved, time-honored marathon tradition. 

That said, sweet sharers of mid-race alcohol, go on and mix it up this year – a light and fizzy Grüner Veltliner is just as punchy and refreshing as any ale or lager. Grüner is the invigorating, herbaceous white grape indigenous to Austria that is beloved for being eminently gluggable. Nothing screams “life is fun!” like a big ol' liter bottle of crown-capped Grüner Veltliner, whether you’re the one handing out the cups to runners or drinking it yourself to stay warm. Pick up a convenient liter (that’s basically a bottle and a half in one package) of Berger Grüner Veltliner for a song at $20.

Skurnik Wines/$20 per liter bottle

Jackie Botto/for PhillyVoice

Ochota Barrels “Texture Like Sun” is an Australian red blend of Grenache, Gamay, Syrah, Merlot, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer.

What to drink post-race: Let’s celebrate!

You’ve finished! You’re a superhero! All those terrible mid-race thoughts about how insane you were to sign up for this race are over! Or, alternately, your spectator experience of standing outside on a chilly, Sunday morning while checking your friends race alerts on your phone is over. You made runners laugh and feel inspired, and you should celebrate how good a person you were to stand outside for hours.

Either way, let’s drink some nice wine. Runners desperately need to replenish their salt levels (and their sanity) after a marathon, so I’m leaning towards two favorite wines with the best, brightest and most quenching little hint of salinity. Fun wine facts – I don’t mean actual salt, but wines made from grapes that either grew near large bodies of salty water, or come from volcanic or chalky soils. These factors can lend a great natural salinity in the wine flavor that is great when paired with food, or when you’ve just been running for 4 to 5 hours and want to get anything resembling salt into your body as quickly as possible.

The label of Ochota Barrels “Texture Like Sun” is almost painful to read, with the white letters on a bright and sunny yellow label, but you’re probably seeing double by this point, so who cares? This Australian red is a light, gluggable blend of nearly every grape grown under the sun – Grenache, Gamay, Syrah, Merlot, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer. It’s one of the lightest reds that I’ve tasted all year, very fragrant and red fruit driven with a hint of white pepper and the aforementioned salinity. It’ll make you feel like you’re lying on a sandy beach in Australia, instead of on your couch in Philadelphia with sore legs and an insatiable appetite.

Vine Street Imports/$34.99

If you prefer for your celebration wine to be something a little richer and darker, this is the perfect time for something special from California’s La Clarine Farm. The grapes from this outstanding natural winemaker are mostly grown in volcanic and/or limestone-rich soils, so the wine always has a perfect level of acid (great to go with all that food you’ll be eating) and again, a quenching savory note that I wish more wines had. 

La Clarine Piede Grandi, a ruby red blend of Nebbiolo and Mouvedre that tastes like wild cherries and spice, is on the more expensive side, but this is a time to treat yourself, no? Also, you’re guaranteed something good when buying anything from this winery.

Bowler Wines/$39.99.

Sande Friedman is the Vice President of Philly Wine Week and a two-time marathoner. She manages staff education and curates the wine selection for Di Bruno Bros.