Pairing Wine & Sports
We’re sure you’ve heard wines called “slam dunks” before, but how about a wine that’s a stolen base? Or a corner kick goal? Team sports are all about successful pairings, and our editors are here to help you find the right wine to go with five perfect moments of athletic accomplishment.
It’s just you and the goalie. So, as you skate toward the net with the puck, block out the crowd with laser-like focus.
The Practitioners: T.J. Oshie, Zach Parise, Pavel Datsyuk
The Wine: Chablis. Like a well-honed skate blade, Chablis has razor-sharp acidity. Surrounded by all that ice, how can you not think of oysters on the half shell?
Joseph Drouhin 2013 Drouhin-Vaudon Vaillons Premier Cru (Chablis); $42, 93 points. This is a balanced wine with touches of honey and toast, along with ripe yellow and white fruits that are cut by a salty structure. Great acidity runs through the wine, giving a tight, steely, very pure aftertaste. Drink from 2017. Dreyfus, Ashby & Co. —Roger Voss
A mix of strength and dexterity, the ace is a serve that’s literally unreturnable. Stay in front of it and give it your undivided attention.
The Practitioners: Serena Williams, Goran Ivanisevic, Andy Roddick
The Wine: Barolo. You can be knocked on your heels by the tannins of Piedmont’s most famous Nebbiolo grape. But after a few years in the cellar, your palate will be able to volley back, experiencing a wine worthy of Centre Court.
Attilio Ghisolfi 2011 Bussia Bricco Visette (Barolo); $79, 96 points. Scorched earth, ripe berry, underbrush, ground pepper, leather and a balsamic note are just some of the aromas you’ll find on this superb Barolo. The young, tight palate delivers rich black cherry, baking spice, licorice and tobacco, while firm, velvety tannins provide the framework. A mineral vein energizes the finish. It already shows a great depth of flavors, but it’s still young and assertive. Hold to let this unwind and develop complexity. Drink 2021–2031. Cellar Selection. Quintessential Wines. —Kerin O’Keefe
You announce your intentions to the pitcher by taking an enormous lead. Everyone knows what’s coming next: the takeoff, and more often than not, a successful steal.
The Practitioners: Dee Gordon, Jose Altuve, Jacoby Ellsbury
The Wine: Monastrell. Talk about a steal. In Spain, Monastrell (more commonly known as Mourvèdre) is a tasty bargain in red wine. And the price is so nice, it can seem like a theft.
Volver 2014 Tarima Monastrell (Alicante); $9, 87 points. This everyday Monastrell opens with oaky, toasty, charred aromas of black cherry and blackberry. It’s a little wiry and acidic, but also full and dense. Charred, spicy flavors of baked plum and clove finish with gusto and some heat. Best Buy. Jorge Ordoñez Selections. —Michael Schachner
The degree of difficulty to bend a corner kick around the goalpost and past the goalkeeper is extremely high. A rare occurrence you may never get to see first-hand.
The Practitioners: Dejan Petković, David Beckham, Megan Rapinoe
The Wine: Tokaji. Producing Tokaji is dependent on just the right (and rare) climactic conditions aligning to produce grapes with “noble rot.” Fermenting miniscule amount of juice from shriveled grapes, plus the base wine, can take years. So, while you wait for that wine to be bottled, you might just get to witness one of soccer’s most stunning plays.
Oremus 2006 Aszú 5 Puttonyos (Tokaji); $70/500 ml, 92 points. This Tokaji has heady aromas of gardenia, white flowers, freesia, honey and dried apricots. It’s full-bodied in the mouth, with flavors of caramelized pineapple, apricot nectar and lemon curd. Editors’ Choice. Skurnik Wines, Inc. —Jeff Jenssen
A rim-rattling dunk always brings the crowd to its feet. Especially when a hapless defender gets “posterized” by a monster jam.
The Practitioners: Zach LaVine, Aaron Gordon, DeAndre Jordan
The Wine: Shiraz from Australia’s Barossa Valley. The lingering impact of a savage dunk can only be matched in the glass by a tooth-staining Shiraz. Powerful and in your face.
Rubus 2013 Shiraz (Barossa); $19, 92 points. Rubus is a label for wines selected by the fine American importer Fran Kysela, MS. The 2013 is a full-bodied, velvety-textured Barossa Shiraz, offering a rich, luxurious mouthfeel. Cedar and mocha notes are apparent, but there’s ample underlying plummy fruit and a long, plush finish. Drink now–2020. Editors’ Choice. Kysela Père et Fils. —Joe Czerwinski
- 1The Sport: Hockey | The Play: Shootout
- 2The Sport: Tennis | The Play: Ace
- 3The Sport: Baseball | The Play: Stolen Base
- 4The Sport: Soccer | The Play: Corner Kick Goal
- 5The Sport: Basketball | The Play: Slam Dunk