Vintage Sports & Wine

When great wins and bottles intersected.

If there is one common way in which sports and wine intersect, it’s that great years lead to unforgettable experiences. Wine Enthusiast has rounded up 11 great moments in the last 100 years of athletic and alcoholic history.

  1. 1

    1912

    People pay upward of $3,000 for bottles of Bordeaux and Madeira from this year, which is when Jim Thorpe—considered by many the epitome of athleticism in his era—won pentathlon and decathlon gold during the Summer Olympics in Stockholm.

  2. 2

    1964

    “I shook up the world!” screamed 22-year-old Cassius Clay (who later changed his name to Muhammad Ali) after knocking out titlist Sonny Liston to become boxing’s heavyweight champion of the world. That fight was in Miami, but across the ocean in Spain, Rioja’s vines were starting to bud into a classic vintage.

  3. 3

    1969

    An epic vintage in Burgundy, this was also the first game officially dubbed as the “Super Bowl,” although it was the third championship game between the rival AFL and NFL. The Joe Namath-led New York Jets stunned the heavily favored the Baltimore Colts, giving the AFL its first-ever title.

  4. 4

    1976

    Romanian teen Nadia Comaneci scored the first perfect 10 ever in gymnastics during the Summer Olympics in Montreal. Meanwhile, California wines surprised the world at the Judgment of Paris.

  5. Affirmed, photo courtesy Wikipedia / Creative Commons
    5

    1978

    While France’s Rhône Valley pumped out remarkable wines, Affirmed was busy winning horse racing’s Triple Crown.

  6. 6

    1982

    Bordeaux cracked out a vintage that’s now considered a modern classic, while Baltimore Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken began his historic streak of 2,632 consecutive games played, a Major League Baseball record that will likely never be broken.

  7. 7

    1986

    Boston Red Sox fans remember this as the year when first baseman Bill Buckner’s pivotal error in Game 6 led to eventual defeat at the hands of the New York Mets in the World Series. But wine lovers would enjoy the sweeter side of the vintage, as it was a winner for Sauternes.

  8. 8

    1997

    Tuscan wines went bonkers with quality this year, while the Chicago Bulls won their second back-to-back NBA championships of  the decade, beating the Utah Jazz.

  9. 9

    2001

    Barolo went big with power and grace, while Tiger Woods became the first golfer to win the sport’s four major tournaments consecutively, completing the “Tiger Slam” with his two-stroke victory at the Masters.

  10. 10

    2008

    Heralded as one of the best modern vintages of Champagne, this was also the year that Michael Phelps became the most successful Olympian in history, winning eight gold medals at the Beijing Summer Games.

  11. 11

    2012

    The San Francisco Giants won their second World Series in three seasons, while Napa Valley scored its most widely acclaimed vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon in recent memory.

Published on March 23, 2016
Topics: Sports + Wine, Wine Pairings
About the Author
Matt Kettmann
Contributing Editor

Reviews wines from California.

A fifth generation Californian originally from San Jose, Matt Kettmann covers California’s Central Coast and South Coast for the magazine. He is also the senior editor of The Santa Barbara Independent, where he’s worked since 1999, has written for the New York Times, Time Magazine, Wine Spectator, and Smithsonian, and co-founded New Noise Santa Barbara, a music festival.

Email: mkettmann@wineenthusiast.net.


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