A wine to lead off with, and one that cleans up


August 04, 2008|By Candus Thomson | Candus Thomson,Sun reporter

Had dinner recently with Brooks Robinson. Eddie Murray showed, too.

Robinson was just what you'd expect: unassuming, complementary, easy to get along with.

The same for Murray: reliable, intense, making a statement from beginning to end.

Each handled the menu with aplomb: Esskay Orioles chicken dogs for old No. 5, and Esskay Orioles beef dogs for Eddie. A handful of Herr's Old Bay potato chips on the side, a Berger cookie or two to wrap things up, and we had a Baltimore meal fit for Edna Turnblad, with the fat content to match.

I picked up the tab: $56.50, minus the tip. I'm not going to make two Hall of Famers who made so many summers memorable go Dutch.

Turns out great Orioles ballplayers also make decent wines.

Brooks Robinson Chardonnay and Eddie Murray 504 Cabernet Sauvignon rolled off the production line and into stores this summer, the latest offerings from a company that has produced wines for about 20 baseball players, including Manny Ramirez (Manny Being Merlot), Tom Glavine (Cabernet Glavingnon) and Kevin Youkilis (SauvignYoouuk Blanc).

All proceeds from the Robinson and Murray vintage go to the Baltimore Community Foundation, which last year awarded $30 million in grants to nonprofit organizations in the area.

All well and good, you say. What about the taste?

The tasting panel comprised a retired NASA rocket scientist, a psychiatric nurse, a state water-quality engineer and four people who at one time or another committed acts of journalism. First up, chicken dogs dressed with ketchup or mustard (sauerkraut optional), followed by a brief debate over protocol as wine was poured. Sip and then bite, or the other way around?

After a swallow of chardonnay with an Esskay chaser, the panel agreed that Robinson was closer in taste to a lighter pinot grigio-style than a chardonnay, a picnic wine requiring a forceful introduction to the refrigerator.

"It's very pleasant if it's properly chilled," the rocket scientist said.

"To subzero," one journalist said jokingly.

The panel warmed to Robinson after a brief return to the refrigerator. That is, until it began to lose its cool.

"It doesn't warm well," a journalist said.

"Drink faster," her husband advised.

But all agreed that on a hot summer night with the light of the Domino Sugar sign playing off the harbor, Robinson, the wine, played as cleanly as Robinson, the player, in the 1970 World Series.

The switch from chicken to beef was accompanied by the uncorking of the Murray cabernet.

"Jammy," said one taster, inhaling deeply above the rim of his glass.

Then, a sip and a bite.

"The hot dog and cab go nicely together. The wine holds up to a hot dog loaded with spicy mustard and sauerkraut and the Old Bay," said the water-quality engineer, a Maryland native. "Like Eddie, it can't be ignored."

After about 64 grams of fat each - our daily allotment in one sitting - the wine was gone.

"Brooks is a good introduction to a meal," the engineer said, "and Eddie, as always, cleans up."


Wine facts

* What: Brooks Robinson Chardonnay and Eddie Murray 504 Cabernet Sauvignon

* Cost: $18.99 each

* Benefiting: Baltimore Community Foundation

* Produced by: Eos Estate Winery, Paso Robles, Calif.

* Web site: charityhop .com

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