Bottoms up: Red Sox wine

It’s October and, at least around here, everyone’s mind is on baseball. But with riot scenes from the Sox’s 2004 ACLS victory still fresh on our minds, we wanted to avoid the sport altogether in this week’s column. Unfortunately, Red Sox-themed wine has been displayed on the counter of the Spirit Shoppe for about a month and when we saw a thirty of Coors Light on sale in the adjacent fridge, we knew it had to be.

Three members of the Red Sox – Curt Schilling, Tim Wakefield and Manny Ramirez – have “teamed up” (sorry) with Longball Vineyards to give Sox fans another way to be drunk and rowdy. In addition to this noble cause, the proceeds from the wine sales also benefit a charity selected by each respective player. Neither of your loyal columnists possesses the poor taste for charity jokes, so we had to bring in our resident wine expert and cynic supreme, Tony Maruca ’08, to help us. He immediately mentioned that, appropriately, none of them listed the “Rockies” as the charity, and this act of integrity on Schilling’s part did not change the fact that his wife’s name is Shonda.

The first bottle we tried was Schilling’s “Schardonnay.” Bad name, yes, but at least it’s not “Shondannay.” We started with this one because there wasn’t a Josh Beckett Burgundy. Its initial claim to be “unoaked” was surprising, given some of the shellings that Schilling has received throughout his career, but we later found out that this refers to the wine having been aged without oak barrels. This allows the wine to be less sweet and more Republican, so this wine really captures Curt. The initial aroma is, oddly enough, sweet – with hints of apricot coupled with a bright, dry grapefruit smell. The apricot continues through the taste, and it finishes crisp and clean. As for its comparison to Coors Light: they’re both light in color, crisp in taste and much better cold. Unlike Schilling, this wine is reasonably priced and pretty likable. Unsurprisingly, our conservative friend – whose values are so despicable that we choose not to mention his name – showed a preference for this one.

We then moved on to the “Manny Being Merlot.” The nose is about as inconsistent as its namesake’s desire to field fly balls. It starts out with a sweetness dominated by plum and ripe grape, but then the peppery overtones give rise to a dirty, unpleasant aroma.

One of our tasters speculated that it smells like Manny likely does after a doubleheader. Despite this wine’s lack of hygiene, we moved on to tasting. Here we were surprised by its lack of complexity; the fruit that we smelled is almost nonexistent in the taste, and is replaced by a chalky, peppery taste, with a very subtle hint of vanilla that seemed to come out of left field. This wine just doesn’t make the effort and, unlike Man-Ram, it cannot get by on its natural talent alone. Manny should keep being Manny and not ever be Merlot again. We had to really tap the Rockies to get this taste out of our mouths. If you smelled something horrible Saturday night on Morgan fourth floor, it was not a biohazard: it was simply Manny being Merlot.

Last was Tim Wakefield’s “Caber-knuckle” (Cabernet Sauvignon). We were excited about this wine because Wakefield, having excused himself from World Series duty, has had ample time to hone this wine to perfection. The wine didn’t come with its own catcher, and this was the first of a few observations we had that make this wine uncharacteristic of its namesake. The smell and taste were both, unlike his pitching, straightforward. The initial nose had raspberry, blackberry and a hint of wood in it, and the taste finished clean with very subtle tannins at the finish. Towards the end of this tasting, we were surprised by the baseball logo on the label beginning to gyrate, as well as the room floor becoming unsteady. Undaunted, we pressed on to sample another of the world’s coldest tasting beers. Wakefield’s extra vacation time shows in the quality of this wine, and only the true Rocky-faithful (those who liked Colorado prior to this September) could turn this down.

All in all, we found that the Red Sox defense did much better than its offense, as the pitchers presented us with the tastier wines. However when it comes down to it, baseball goes with beer, not wine. Watching game three while drinking red wine made one taster forget the pitch count. The white wine caused another taster to ask, “Who’s playing?”

Red Sox wine is available at the Spirit Shoppe for $11.99 per bottle.