Whether your team's up or down, these 12 wines from sommelier (and Dodgers superfan) Matthew Kaner will get you through the baseball season -- from the M-16 flyover on opening day to the moment you don a foam finger and all the way through the race for the pennant.
“I’ve been rooting for the Dodgers since 1987. The blood in my veins is not red, it’s blue,” says sommelier and Los Angeles Dodgers superfan Matthew Kaner. And somehow, despite the fact that he just opened a superb new wine bar, Augustine, a couple months ago and also has another restaurant, Bar Covell, to run, he still manages to sneak in some games. “I went to games last week and I’m going to one tomorrow,” he says. “We’re in first place, so we’re off to a great start. Our division’s tough, every team is playing really well.”
Obviously, this is a man who has some ideas about what wines pair best with the baseball. Here are his picks for a case of that will get you through the season, the Dodgers’s season, that is.
1. NV M. Bonnamy Cremant de Loire Brut Rosé
“Baseball season starts in April and there’s a little gloom happens in LA in those days. It starts out foggy and in the 50s in the morning, but then it’s 80 degrees by the afternoon. This is a good bubbles and brunch type thing from the Loire. It’s made from Cabernet Franc and it’s light, delicate, mineral – good for the start of the season.”
2. 2013 Brokenwood Semillon
“It’s an Australian Semillon and it has high acid and is racy – good for oysters, by itself, with seafood, pork tenderloin, great this time of year. Why is it good for baseball season? I don’t know. It’s a stretch. When was the last time you saw someone drink wine at a baseball game anyway? It’s good for the beginning of the season when happened and it tastes good with romesco. So there.”
3. 2014 Red Car Rosé of Pinot Noir
“Always the first rosé to be released, this one comes out in February. The vineyards are on the Sonoma Coast, just 13 miles inland from the ocean. So they stay fresh, but also get great afternoon sunlight. It’s perfect; light to medium bodied. We have it right now at Augustine.”
4. 2014 Lieu Dit Melon
“This wine tends to sell out, just like post-season tickets for the Dodgers. It’s made by my sommelier friend Eric Railsback with help from Justin Willett, who also makes Tyler wines. It even has an oyster on the label so you know that it goes well with them. They get the fruit from the Santa Ynez valley and it’s mind-blowing.
5. 2011 Ridgeview Bloomsbury
“We have to have some more bubbles. This wine always comes in in June, right around the All-Star break. It’s from Sussex, England and was the first British wine I’d ever had. It’s made in the champagne method and has this great moussy creaminess. It’s not as yeasty or brioche-y as Blanc de Blanc Champagnes can be made.”
6. 2013 Bonnet Rouge Gamay Noir
“This is a red wine that we serve chilled. It’s a red that’s made for warm-weather drinking. They source a lot of their fruit from the Potel family in Beaujolais. And it’s the inaugural vintage of this wine – the winemakers just split off on their own. It’s a Beaujolais Villages. You could have a glass of this in one hand, while rooting with a Dodgers foam finger in your other hand.”
7. 1999 Mayacamas Cabernet Sauvignon
“This isn’t a wine that people are going actually going to be able to find, but it’s a wine that I got to drink with Orel Hersheiser. He was the pitcher for the Dodgers the last time we won the World Series in 1988. He was the MVP that season. A friend of mine met him and we got to have dinner with him. And we drank a 1988 Mayacamas Cabernet Sauvignon in his honor. It was a bottle that my business partner, Dave, had in his cellar – he’s the one who’s spearheading all the older vintages at Bar Covell and Augustine. This wine is always going to be big and tarry, but the tannins are so well-integrated. This winery is in an amazing part of the Mayacamas mountain range, so it gets tons of sun during the day and then has nighttime cooling because of the elevation. I opened another bottle of the ‘88 a month ago and it, too, was awesome.”
8. 1983 Michel Clerget Chambolle-Musigny Charmes
“One of our best pitchers, Brandon McCarthy, unfortunately has to have Tommy John surgery and is out for the rest of the season. So we got in touch with the head of PR for the Dodgers and through her, we’re going send this wine to him. It’s from his birth year – which is my birth year, too. We bought this great cellar from a jazz musician and it’s one of the last bottles we have left. The first play to have this surgery was Tommy John, who played for the Dodgers, too. McCarthy’s a big Burgundy collector, so I want him to have this bottle. Hopefully, it will help him get better fast.”
9. 2011 Ravines Argetsinger Vineyard Riesling
“This is the Riesling time of year when everyone should be drinking Riesling. Well, really, everyone should always be drinking Riesling. One I’m partial to is from Morten and Lisa Hallgren and their Ravines winery. The one wine in particular that brings a tear to my eye is the 2011 Argetsinger Vineyard Riesling. It’s that perfect sweet-tart. It’s grown on limestone, which is very rare for the region. The vineyard is right above the eastern part of Seneca Lake (most vineyards are on the western part) and the view that the grapes have is not fair. The rooftop Cubs fans at Wrigley field had their view blocked by a Jumbotron, hopefully the grapes won’t get their view blocked by a Jumbotron!”
10. Thierry Allemand Cornas
“This is the wine I have tattooed on my arm. I had to have outline of this bottle tattooed in 2010 right after the Dodgers missed the playoffs because Thierry Allemand’s Cornas has never let me down. No matter if the Dodgers are hot or cold or if they lose to the Giants, that wine will bring you out of it. It will bring you out of a 27-year World Series slump.
11. 2009 Moraga Bel Air
“We have to have a wine that’s made in LA.” And even though these vineyards face away from Dodger stadium, they’re only 20 minutes away. So they definitely get the flyovers of M-16 on opening day and the Goodyear blimp has to go over ocean and circle back around. These grapes are grown in LA and the wine is made in Napa, but I have to think that the grapes soak up the same earthquake energy that the Dodgers have to have.”
12. 2001 Qupé X Block Syrah
“When the Dodgers win the World Series, this is the first wine I’ll open. My good friend Bob Lindquist from Qupé is a huge Dodgers fan. He only makes this wine in the best years – and he lists the years that the Dodgers won the World Series right one the front label. He only makes it in the years where the fruit from his X Block is perfect. I’ve been saving this bottle for years and will drink it when the Dodgers win the whole thing.”