Updated May 8 with details on Jon Bon Jovi's live-chat splash
Kevin Garnett was the biggest trash talker of all time. That answer satisfied American rapper and actor Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, who appeared on “What’s in Your Glass?”, the virtual wine talk hosted by NBA veteran Carmelo Anthony on YouTube Live every Monday night. As Ludacris’ wine stock was running low, he turned to one of his last remaining bottles: a 2008 Château Maison Blanche, while Anthony swirled a 1997 Brunello di Montalcino for the chat.
From their own shelter in place, soccer and basketball phenoms Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird have been hosting their own "A Touch More" and "Wine Down" broadcasts on Instagram and YouTube, pouring up everything from Moscow Mules to the 2018 La Bruja de Rozas, an old-vine pure Garnacha from the Vinos de Madrid area; the pair take questions from fans, hold court for hours and bring in guests like WNBA players Penny Taylor and Diana Taurasi and, on Sunday's session, Miami Heat enophile and leader in wine-chat assists Jimmy Butler.
Offering a taste of rock and rosé, Hampton Water, the wine collaboration between rock icon Jon Bon Jovi, his 25-year-old son, Jesse Bongiovi, and Languedoc winemaker Gérard Bertrand, has also kicked off a "Virtual Happy Half Hour" series on Instagram Live. It has been airing Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5 p.m. ET, and on May 7, the elder JBJ was be in attendance. Bongiovi told us that during this chat, he and his dad would be discussing the reveal of the new-and-improved label for Hampton Water 2019.
“The first [broadcast] was just me sitting on my couch at my parents’ place," Bongiovi said. "And now it's growing into a thing where people have reached out to us saying, ‘Hey you know, I haven't tried the wine, and I heard about this and I absolutely love the happy hours. So now I'm ordering it online.’ In a time of social distancing that we're now living in, we've really made a point to still be connected to people."
All these bold-faced names are among the many artists and athletes embracing the virtual soiree—and often as not the subject of conversation is wine itself. Although Anthony and Ludacris were drinking Old World reds, Luda proudly reps American wine, his favorite being Napa's Schrader Cellars Cabernet. “At a certain point we have to understand the luxury and how great the wines we have here in California and here in the U.S. [are],” he enthuses, comparing West Coast reds to the Ford GT supercar that keeps pace with the world's best. “We gotta be proud of it!”
Bongiovi is eager to spread the word about his label redesign. “We challenged ourselves in the last year to see how we could really jump off the shelf,” Bongiovi said. “We wanted to keep that same idea of [the label's signature swimmer] diving from water into wine. But then we decided to go with more blue.”
Sommelier DLynn Proctor of Fantesca Estate in Napa and a producer of Netflix’s recent wine movie Uncorked, is another wine pro mingling with the stars from a safe distance. He joined Anthony's show last month, bringing two wines to the live chat (which he poured via Coravin): a 2011 Crissante Alessandria Barolo and a 2014 Cabernet from Fantesca, while Anthony went New World with a 2016 Odette Cabernet from Stags Leap District in Napa.
They got into the fun stuff too, like pairing wine with movies. Proctor took a crack at it and decided to pair the Michael Jordan classic Space Jam with cru Beaujolais. “There’s something about the brightness of that movie,” Proctor says. “It was for all people.” (The Jordan documentary The Last Dance is clearly in heavy rotation; Rapinoe and Bird tip off one episode by playing the "Be Like Mike" Gatorade jingle from Jordan's '90s commercials.)
Yesterday, Melo hosted Black-ish lead and sometime Iron Chef America judge Anthony Anderson, who poured a 2017 Cabernet from Rutherford's S.R. Tonella Cellars, a wine with a personal connection. "I was the featured winery at a wine dinner where I met Anthony and his wife," Steve Tonella, president of the winery, explained to Unfiltered via email.
In his segment, Proctor preaches the power of wine social media as a balm for isolation. “If you can break someone away from the chaos of the world around them … and take their mind away from it with a glass of wine and a story, I think that’s really made folks and myself feel good in these uncertain times."
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