Wine and sport mix more than you think

In the antediluvian 20th century, you probably associated beer with sporting events and athletes. Today, in the bright and shiny illumination of the 21st century, wine can claim its place alongside beer as a sports drink. Beer drinkers would be wise – probably with a burp – but they would be wrong.

Major sports venues have improved their food and beverage offerings. Wine is available by the cup and by the can. Premium wines are available by the bottle in luxury suites.

Several great professional sportsmen are associated with wine, and not just by putting their name on a label. Basketball superstar Yao Ming is actively involved in Yao Family Wines. San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has co-owned Oregon-based A to Z Wineworks since 2006.

Football stars and coaches own vineyards. Drew Bledsoe owns Doubleback Cellars, Bledsoe Family Wines and Bledsoe-McDaniels. John Elway owns 7Cellars. Former NFL quarterbacks Dan Marino and Damon Huard own Passing Time. Super Bowl-winning coach Dick Vermeil owns Vermeil Wines. He sources his grapes from a vineyard that his grandfather picked as a vineyard worker.

Former Oakland Raiders cornerback Charles Woodson is co-owner of Charles Woodson’s Intercept and TwentyFour. TwentyFour is upscale Napa; Intercept is a more accessible range of Paso Robles wines.

Racing driver Kevin Buckler, winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and 99 other professional victories, owns Adobe Road. As you can imagine, his wines have a racing connection: The 24, Shift, Redline, Apex.

Dusty Baker, Greg Vaughn and Tom Seaver are just a few star baseball winery owners. Golf star vineyard owners include Ernie Els, Cristie Kerr, Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman, Gary Player, Annika Sorenstam, Jan Stephenson and Nick Faldo.

Obviously, there are different motivations, but there is a somewhat general theme. Athletes understand vintage. Each year challenges you to make the most of what nature and chance present to you. Everything can go well, things can go wrong. In sport, in winemaking.

Tasting notes:

• A to Z Wineworks Bubbles Oregon Rosé Wine: Crisp, creamy with good acidity. Fun and fantasy here. Four-pack of 250ml cans, $20

• Adobe Road Apex Sonoma County Red Wine 2016: Delicious with complexity and depth. Drinks like a top-of-the-range Bordeaux Rive Gauche. $76-80

• Yao Family Wines Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Yao Ming 2016: Bold, vibrant, incredibly delicious. It is a major wine, with a concomitant price. $85-100

Last Round: Which word gets shorter when you add two letters to it? “Short.”

Email: [email protected] Newsletter: Website: Facebook: Gus Clemens on wine. Twitter: @gusclemens.

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