Wine isn't probably the first thing you think of when it comes to having a drink while watching a baseball game. There are several reasons for that. The obvious one is, thanks to the exclusive licensing deal Major League Baseball has with Budweiser, every stadium you go to has their iconic logo all over the place. At least two different teams play in a stadium named for beer manufacturers, and one of the teams is even named "The Brewers", and I don't think they're talking about tea. I don't think that any time soon we're going to see the National league champions change their name to the San Francisco Winemakers, but you just might be surprised how much more connected wine and baseball have gotten over the years.
Like every other major sport in North America, MLB is always looking for ways to increase attendance and expand its business. To be successful at that, it needed to look at the ways it marketed itself. According to a recent post on the website Fast Company, MLB has over 300 separate licensing agreements, covering everything from the aforementioned affiliation with Budweiser all the way to Hello Kitty. Some people believe that, as beneficial as their partnership with the St. Louis based brewery giant may be, it takes away the possibility of team-centric local beers, created by independently owned microbreweries and brew pubs from the team's cities. That may be true, but there is more than just beer being made all across the country these days, and there are more than just beer drinkers going to games.
This year marked the first year that MLB licensed and marketed wine, but they didn't just slap a label on any old generic bottle of wine. They started small with just seven teams, and, while much of it is California wine, in the case of the New York Yankees and the Seattle Mariners, wine was chosen from the Finger Lakes region and the Columbia Valley, respectively. Proof that this wine was worth drinking can be proven by the fact that the initial order of 11,000 sold out so quickly that a second order of 14,000 cases was placed to get through the season.
This isn't the first time or the only way that wine and baseball have gotten together. In years past, there have been wines available in the New England area named after various players on the Boston Red Sox, and the Minnesota Twins host annual "Wine Women and Baseball" events during home games. Just as importantly, other teams have seen the success that the first seven teams have had this year and all 30 teams are now asking to be part of the wine fun next year. It may take a while before they find the perfect varietal to pair with a hot dog, but it just goes to show how popular wine has become.
Jack Terry is a freelance writer who focuses on wine and spirits in today's society and sites like http://www.wineclubworld.com.