The San Francisco Giants just got their first sommelier
Ballpark fare has evolved far beyond popcorn, peanuts and Cracker Jack, with modern offerings ranging from filet mignon sandwiches at Citi Field to lobster rolls at T-Mobile Park. So it’s no surprise, given the proximity to Wine Country, that the offerings here in San Francisco also include top-notch bottles – hand-picked, starting this month, by the master’s own team sommelier, a first for the industry. Evan Goldstein, who in 1987 became the eighth American to pass the prestigious Master Sommeliers exam at the age of 26, is now the official summit of the San Francisco Giants, making him the first person to hold such a role.
“As a fan who also loves wine, this partnership is something I’ve always wanted to see codified in Bay Area’s eno-DNA,” Goldstein says. “Since we announced, it has been fascinating to hear that so many in the wine industry are as enthusiastic, if not more so, than we are.”
This isn’t Goldstein’s first collaboration with the team. His first contact with wine and baseball dates back to the mid-90s, when the team held its very first wine tasting at Candlestick Park (RIP).
“Since then, it’s been part of the Giants family in one form or another,” said Jason Pearl, senior vice president and director of business development.
Details of the partnership are still being worked out, but Goldstein’s role will likely include hosting more tastings and wine pairings, and there’s even talk of a mentorship program for current and former players. Giants looking to transition into the wine industry.
“The role and the partnership are just beginning – the proverbial pinnacle of the former, so to speak – and there are many rounds to play,” Goldstein says.
But of course, one element of his role is iron: to participate in the selection of wines poured at the ballpark.
“I look forward to learning more about the demographics of our fanbase and how many of them come from Wine Country,” says Goldstein. “Being in California, we are very fortunate that ‘wine country’ spans the entire state: Marin, Sonoma, Napa, Livermore, Lodi, Cupertino, Monterey, Paso Robles, Lake County, Amador County, the Sierra Foothills and even the Central Valley.While our primary focus is on local wines, we will certainly evaluate any opportunities that add value to the program and joy for fans.
As a warm-up, here’s how Goldstein would pair some of baseball’s most nostalgic dishes and memorable experiences with his favorite wines from California and beyond.
“We can go in two directions. The first is to play on the “crack” of the popcorn and have something fizzy and at the same time sweet (key to remember: if the wine is not at least as sweet as the Cracker Jack, it will have a sour taste). The fizz will be a contrast to the crunch. A demi-sec champagne or a demi-sec sparkling wine will be perfect. However, if you don’t like bubbles and prefer a layer of flavor to capture the caramel/nutty elements, I would go with a sweet, fortified wine – a brown or cream sherry, tawny port style (from Portugal, Australia or California), or a milder Madeira (Boal or Malmsey). In California, Mumm Napa Cuvée or if you’re a little decadent — Moet and Chandon Brut Imperial. If road Tawny Port, Sandeman Porto Tawny 10 Years or Sherry, Gonzalez Byass Solera ‘1847’ Oloroso Dulce.”
Frankish baseball stadium
“For the good old all-beef frank, I’m a fan of brown mustard, chopped onions, a bit of sauerkraut, and pairing it with a bright, youthful zinfandel. A few options: Dry Creek Vineyard 2019 Old Vine Zinfandel, Ridge 2019 Pagani Ranch Zinfandel and lighter but perhaps the best, Dashe 2018 Zinfandel, Heart Arrow Ranch.
“You’ll want a bright white wine that can cut through the richness and echo the sweet saltiness that comes from the brine they’re boiled in, so…a dry sherry (fino is ideal), a young pinot grigio, a young and completely unoaked chardonnay or, if you’re looking for something richer, an Albariño (Spanish or otherwise) or an energetic sauvignon blanc like Twomey Sauv Blanc.
During round 7
“Something that makes you want to get up and sing, of course. For me, it’s an easy red to drink: juicy Merlot, crisp Pinot Noir or creamy Grenache: Long Meadow Ranch Napa Valley Merlot, Patz and Hall Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir or Babcock’s Grenache “Love Among The Ruins” 2020.
To celebrate a no-hitter
“The best bottle of champagne your wallet can afford – could be from California or anywhere else that excels in effervescence. Just make sure there are more interesting flavors in the wine than there are. In California: Iron Horse Classic Vintage Brut Estate Bottled Sparkling, Roederer Estate L’Ermitage or Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs.
Lament a non-hitter
“If you haven’t been hit, something strong to fortify you from disappointment. An old vine Zinfandel, an Italian Barolo or an Australian Shiraz are three wines that come to mind: Oliver’s Taranga Vineyards Shiraz, Cline Ancient Vines Zinfandel Contra Costa County or Luigi Pira, Margheria, Barolo (Serralunga d’Alba).“
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