Boston Bruins right-winger Mark Recchi, 42, has played in the National Hockey League for more than 20 years, and collected wine for nearly as long. His career began with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1988, and when he and then-teammate Mario Lemieux weren’t dominating the league, winning the Stanley Cup in 1991, they were looking for California Cabernets and high-end steak houses. Today, the Canada-born Recchi fills his 1,000-bottle cellar with classic Bordeaux, but there’s still room for the California Cabs that got him hooked on wine in the early 1990s. Recchi spoke with Wine Spectator about how his tastes have evolved and his plans to visit wine country.
Wine Spectator: How did you get interested in wine?
Mark Recchi: I was 23 or 24 when I started. When I was with the Penguins in the early ’90s, [teammate] Mario [Lemieux] was a big wine drinker and I started tasting with him. When I went to Montreal [in 1995, to play for the Canadiens], and one of the trainers started having tastings with the guys. He would serve cheeses and pâtés and it really took off from there. Caymus was really getting popular then, and in Montreal we couldn’t get it, so when we were on the road we would always try to find a few bottles. [Phelps] Insignia as well. My tastes have evolved. I love French wines now. I think when people first start drinking wine they don’t really appreciate them, but French wines are wonderful.
WS: How did you progress from wine lover to wine collector?
MR: It evolved real quick. I started reading Wine Spectator. In about 2004 I built a house and a big wine cellar with it. It holds about 1,000 bottles and it’s built with old stone. There was always French wine in Montreal. I started collecting Margaux then; I have a ton of ’95s. I have a 1970 Pétrus. I have a lot of second-growths as well. I also bought tons of the 1994 Insignia—that was my favorite California wine. I’m saving that Pétrus for something special; I want to win another Stanley Cup.
WS: Has wine been a part of your team dining experiences?
MR: We travel so much, we eat out all the time. We always go to places with nice wine lists, and the food is very important to us—we have to eat well, and we really enjoy it. We love Capital Grille; we don’t stray too far from nice steak houses. We’ve had some rookie dinners [where the rookies foot the bill] where the older guys get to try some real nice bottles—Margaux, Haut-Brion and down the list of all the great French wines. We do it right, and it’s on the young guys, so it’s nice. [Laughs.] The rookies are allowed to enjoy it too, but we don’t share the good stuff with them!
WS: Have you visited many wine regions?
MR: I’ve been to Auberge du Soleil in Napa. It was beautiful out there. I haven’t been to any wine regions in Europe, but I can’t wait. When I’m done playing I’m going to do all that. [I signed to play for another year] and I don’t know what I was thinking! [Laughs.] I wanna see all the wineries. My first spot is going to be Italy. My father has relatives there, and I love the Brunellos. And I can’t wait to go to Napa again.