WASHINGTON — Well, the Washington Capitals have finally done it. They are in the Stanley Cup Finals after a 20 year hiatus.
As a devoted Caps fan for 19 seasons, this is unfamiliar, but exhilarating, territory for me and my entire family. We have been glued to the TV for every single playoff game.
Even though our three boys — ice hockey players, themselves — are all scattered west of the Rockies, we have, through the wonders of technology, stayed connected, texting back and forth while watching the drama of each game unfold with every puck drop, power play and penalty kill. And now the Stanley Cup Finals are coming to D.C. June 2. What a great time to be a long-standing fan — or become a new fan.
Of course, the most important question on everyone’s mind is: Will the “boys in red” finally bring the Cup home to Washington?
Only slightly less important is this: What wine should we drink while watching the game Saturday night? The answer to that is easy. Red wine, of course. We will definitely be “rockin’ the red with rockin’ red wine” Saturday night and toast to a Caps victory.
In order to help select which red wine to uncork for the game, I thought it would be fun to match up the personality of some of the Caps players with a wine possessing similar characteristics. So here it goes:
Big and solid, with a strong finish describes defense man John Carlson, as well as the 2016 The Prisoner Saldo from California. This is a blend of predominantly zinfandel, with petite sirah and syrah thrown in for structure, all sourced from several vineyards throughout Northern California. Saldo is Latin for “here and there,” just like Carlson plays on defense and offense. This brute of a wine is bursting with big, ripe, jammy fruit, featuring black licorice, black cherry and peppery spices. There is a hint of cocoa on the finish, and a solid core of tannin and acidity, giving it backbone and structure. $32
Center Nicklas Bäckström plays with finesse, grace and just a touch of magic. So does the 2015 Sea Slopes Pinot Noir from the Fort Ross appellation in the Sonoma Coast region of California. It is inspired by the magical Sonoma Coast, located among the steep rugged ridges perched at the edge of the continent. Here, the cool maritime climate produces fruit of exceptional quality that results in an elegant wine with a nose of red cherry, ripe strawberry, and a touch of cedar. The plush texture offers loads of cherry, red plum and cranberry flavors. Hints of orange rind and toasty oak fill in on the graceful finish. $35
If you like power and a wine that scores a lot of points, then my homage to our captain, Alexander Ovechkin, has to include the 2014 Louis Martini Cabernet Sauvignon from the Alexander Valley in Sonoma, California. Rated a whopping 97 points by Wine Advocate, this big wine possesses extraordinary power, with an expansive nose of blackberry liqueur, dark currants and bramble. There is purity and depth that finds its target on the palate with flavors of blackberry, dark plum and clove. Additional notes of mocha and melted licorice glide in on the commanding finish, buoyed by firm tannins that provide excellent structure now and the ability to let it age for another 10-plus years. $45
Goalie Braden Holtby is reliable, consistent and custodian of the net, just like the 2013 d’Arenberg Custodian Grenache from the McLaren Vale region of Australia. The nose is brooding, with aromas of blackberries, dark plums, blueberries and forest floor scents. The palate is rewarded with beautiful red fruit characters, such as raspberry, ripe cherry and rhubarb pie. Crisp acidity and ripe tannins gives stand tall in the mouth and leave the finish with an impression of elegance and power, with a lot more to give over time. $23
And let’s not forget majority owner Ted Leonsis, whose Greek heritage can be saluted with the 2015 Boutari Naoussa Dry Red wine from Greece. Made from 100 percent Xinomavro, this is a rich wine with a deep red color. The sweet aromas of dried fruit, dominated by Calimyrna fig, blend with the aromas of cinnamon, vanilla and wood-derived spices. A powerful wine, it punches the tongue with flavors of dried cherry and dark raspberry on a full-bodied frame, characterized by mature tannins that support hints of black olive on the winning finish. $20