As we head into Superbowl 49 #SB49 our minds turn to … game drinks and snacks! Why not pair #wine with your nibbles?
Wine works with comfort foods like chili and mac and cheese, and it can also pair well with fast food, and yes, even chips, pretzels, and Skittles. In this video, we chat about sport celebrity wines: Are they any good? Do they command higher prices?
Several years ago, quarterback legend Joe Montana partnered with well-known Napa winemaker Ed Sbragia of California’s Beringer Winery to produce Montagia, a cabernet blend. Only 200 cases are made each year, most of them sipped at events for Montana’s many charities.
Sports figures beyond football stars have also been drawn to the wine world, including race car legends Mario Andretti, Michael Schumacher and Richard Childress
Foremost among them is Andretti, who has taken the checkered flag 111 times in his career—winning the Indy 500, the Daytona 500, the Indianapolis 500, the Formula One World Championship and the grueling 12-hour Sebring race.
He grew up in an Italian family where wine was part of family meals. As an adult, his travels to races exposed him to many wines of the world. In 1996, he bought 53 acres in Napa that reminded him of his native Tuscany and planted them with pinot noir, chardonnay, merlot and sauvignon blanc.
Visitors to the Andretti Winery (www.andrettiwinery.com) can always tell when the owner is present: his signature red Ferrari is parked outside the tasting room.
Golfers who putter in winemaking include Nick Faldo, Ernie Els, David Frost, Arnold Palmer and Greg Norman. Ernie Els, winner of fifteen PGA tournaments, produces the best wine of the golfing set.
The Bordeaux-style red blend, called Els Vineyards, is made in Stellenbosch in his native South Africa. The winemaker is Jean Engelbrecht of the top-rated Rust-en-Vrede winery and Els’ wine has won high marks from many critics since its first vintage in 2004.
Els and his wife first met at the winery and were married there. Asked whether he’d prefer a hole-in-one or a 90 from Robert Parker, Els didn’t hesitate: he’d take the Parker score.
Also made way down south is the Nick Faldo Selection of cabernet sauvignon, shiraz and sauvignon blanc wines, all in the $20 range. They’re made by the respected Katnook Estate in Coonawarra in Australia.
Closer to home is Canadian Mike Weir, winner of the 2003 Masters Golf Tournament, who hails from Bright’s Grove, Ontario. In 2005, he launched the Mike Weir Estate Winery in partnership with the Niagara-based Creekside Estate Winery, run by Peter Jensen and Laura McCain Jensen (of the famous food company McCains).
From his 50 acres of vineyards, Weir makes a chardonnay and a cabernet/merlot blend. All proceeds go to Weir’s charities for children.
Arnold Palmer has won 92 professional championships, including four Masters and two British Open titles. He’s an investor in Napa’s Luna Vineyards, which makes his wines (www.arnoldpalmerwines.com).
He got into the wine game after being coaxed by his golfing buddy Michael Moone, the founder of Luna. In 2003, the two created a red wine (sangiovese) and a white (pinot grigio) for Palmer to serve at his restaurant, Arnold Palmer’s in La Quinta, California.
Then in 2005, they expanded the line to include a cabernet sauvignon and a chardonnay (all sell for about $20). Palmer helps to taste the blends and has the final approval on all the wines of his brand.
The best-known of the golf bunch is Greg Norman, whose nickname—The Great White Shark—appears on all his wines. It also brands his many lines of merchandise, from clothing and clubs to yachts and golf courses. Norman has designed more than fifty courses, at a fee of $1.5 million each.
This is, after all, the Australian star, who has won more than ninety professional tournaments during his 30-year career, including two British Open Championships and twenty PGA Tour titles.
His wines, under the label Greg Norman Estates (www.shark.com), are made for him by the Australian wine company Treasury Wine Estates, in both Australia and California.
For those who aspire to live the Norman “active-leisure lifestyle,” but can’t afford to buy one of his yachts or join one of his clubs, the wines are positioned as an “accessible luxury” at $20.
He makes 200,000 cases a year. Norman takes a rather hands-off approach to winemaking: he’s “not out there stomping grapes or rolling barrels,” he says. He just wants to “create wines without getting bogged down in the details.”
For star-struck tipplers, the actual wine matters less than the fact it has a connection to their idol. With so many sports legends getting their hands sticky, it’s hard to know what we may see next: Blend It Like Beckham Merlot/Shiraz?