Full disclosure: I don’t know anything about hockey. Ok, that’s a lie. I know that the players skate around a rink with the goal of using their sticks to get the puck into the net. And when they do, it’s really exciting. So it’s basically like football but indoors and with fighting. You know, kind of.
So when I was assigned to cover a Chicago Wolves charity fundraiser, I was a little concerned. But since I’m up for just about anything that involves sports, I thought: why not? Then I got a little worried. Would I have to ask the players questions about hockey?? Would they expect me to know something about the current standings in the AHL? I was pretty sure I was going to have to cram in a ton of AHL hockey intel prior to the event so I wouldn’t walk in there looking lost, confused, and like a total puck bunny on a mission without a clue.
Luckily, the event ended up being a wine tasting which meant that all I really needed to know was how to drink wine. I’m basically a professional at doing that (and so was my lovely date, my cousin Angelique), so I felt confident that I would succeed.
The annual event is hosted by the Wolves to raise money for the Chicago Wolves Charities and open to the public. Six players had their own personal wine tasting stations. We were given a tasting sheet that each player signed after we tasted their wine. After we visited each table, we were allowed to go back to our favorite one and get a full glass. The players were also gracious enough to sign autographs for fans; people brought jerseys, posters, books, t-shirts and everything else under the sun.
But before we did any of that, we were offered a glass of champagne (to clear our palates, obviously). We drank our champs (pronounced shamps) and grabbed a few appetizers. I had the bruschetta and four-cheese stuffed ravioli with marinara sauce. My cousin had the same and some cheese and crackers. The food was good, the champs was great and we were ready to do our favorite thing: drink wine.
My cousin and I started with the reds, and our first stop was Christian Hanson’s table. He had a Mark West Pinot Noir that was delicious. Next up was goalie Jake Allen’s El Gato Negro Cabernet Sauvignon. I love me a good Cab, so I was pretty pumped to taste this one. And lucky for me, Jake was very generous with his wine. Then we headed to team captain Taylor Chorney’s table where he had Los Cardos Malbec. Hands down – best wine of the night.
The whites were next on the menu, and they didn’t disappoint. Alex Bolduc’s Bogle Sauvignon Blanc was pretty delicious, as was Pat Cannone’s Gazela Vihno Verdo. But the best of this flight was definitely Adam Cracknell’s Stella Pinot Grigio.
Not because it tasted great but because Adam by far the most entertaining of the crew, which is saying a lot because all of the guys could not have been nicer or more down to earth. We really bonded over the important things in life like Juicy J, selfies and being black.
Now time for the superlatives, because who doesn’t want to relive high school?
Best pour: Jake Allen (there’s a reason why he ran out of his wine first)
Most engaging: Christian Hanson. He interviewed me for Wolves TV and was a natural. Watch out, Al Michaels.
Best selfie game: Alex Bolduc. Guys. He wasn’t even trying.
Best dressed: Taylor Chorney. And you know what? He gets best smile as well. Good looking guy, that one. And as nice as can be.
Most likely to be in a Drake video: Adam Cracknell
Biggest disappointment: That none of them are on Tinder. Really, guys. It’s awesome and you can make new friends. Of “friends.” Whatever. No judgement.
Most knowledgeable about his wine: Pat Cannone. Seriously, this dude knew his vino.
Biggest ladies man: Assistant coach Dave Allison. Within five minutes of us walking in the door, he offered my cousin and I game tickets. No really.
Drunkest: Me. Because wine. Duh.
In the end, we had a great time. The players were absolutely delightful, the Wolves staff were all more than accomodating and assistant coach Dave wasted no time making us feel right at home. The best part? The event raised over $12,000 for Chicago Wolves charities. It doesn’t really get better than drinking wine for others. Cheers to being great humanitarians!