Seasons greetings from your unofficial self-proclaimed Rink Sommelier! As some of you may have heard, the NHL named an "Exclusive Wine of the 2011 NHL Winter Classic." The wine is actually a 2008 Duckhorn Vineyards Merlot Decoy from the Napa Valley with a new label, and it was sold (as far as I can tell) exclusively through DC-retailer Calvert Woodley (and it sold out pretty quickly). This was a bit disappointing for me, as last year the Winter Classic wine was a specially-crafted red blend from Miner Family Vineyards, a producer that I like quite a bit more than Duckhorn. Instead, we get a second wine (Decoy is a lesser label produced by Duckhorn) that's no different from the regular bottling and...it's fucking Merlot! However, I agreed to take one for the team and I picked up a couple bottles to try. So, in the spirit of my post a year ago about what the Caps' wine tastes say about them as players, here's my tasting notes on the wine and what it says about how the Winter Classic will play out.
FIRST PERIOD: LOOK
The first thing one notices about this wine is its garnet color -- a distinct reddish tint around the edges of an almost brown glass of wine. This is a good sign, as Red Is Caps Hockey, and it certainly could have been purple like many Merlots. The wine is dark, but not at all cloudy (but I won't be making any weather predictions!).
Score: Caps 1, Pens 0
SECOND PERIOD: SMELL
The second period is when things really start to heat up, as there's a lot going on with the nose of this wine. Upon first sniff, I detect a note of beef jerky, which immediately reminds me of a truck stop on the PA Turnpike. The Pens even it up right off the bat. There's noticeable red fruit, a good sign for the good guys, but that's followed up by leather, which means Fleury will be flashing the glove. Finally, some chocolate aromas appear, and one of the Caps' young stars from Hershey makes an impact.
Score: Caps 3, Pens 1
THIRD PERIOD: TASTE
The wine is very nicely balanced, much like Pittsburgh (currently top ten in offense and defense), and I detect soft tannins, which indicate to me that the Pens exploit some holes in the Caps defense at the start of the third period. The next thing I taste is vanilla, so unfortunately, Crosby scores. The palate rounds out with spice and red cherries. This means, of course, that Matt Cooke will get a roughing minor and the Caps will score on the ensuing power play to take the lead back at end of the game. This Merlot has a short finish, so there won't be any overtime.
Final Score: Caps 4, Pens 3
So there you have it! According to an amateur wine critic's review of a cheap gimmick wine, the Caps will beat the Pens in a thriller in the 2011 NHL Winter Classic!
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