An officially licensed way to get tanked during the Winter Classic

We've chronicled the wondrous relationship between hockey and wine before, and it continues with the 2009 Winter Classic. Via Ad Age, here's a completely pointless but ultimately awesome tie-in with the Detroit Red Wings/Chicago Blackhawks showdown at Wrigley Field on New Year's Day:

The league has partnered with Miner Family Vineyards, an upscale Napa winery, to produce a limited-edition red wine as a keepsake for the game. Bottles were spotted on shelves in Chicago liquor stores for about $30 a bottle. The proceeds will go to charity.

On its face, hockey wine seems a bit like opera beer. After all, watching a player pull his opponent's jersey over his head so he can throttle him blindly doesn't exactly seem like a Merlot-sipping occasion. But the league's VP-consumer products marketing, Jim Haskins, said the league's fan base is more of a wine-drinking crowd than the sport's blue-collar stereotype suggests ...

... The Winter Classic bottling is actually the latest in a series of NHL-licensed wines from Miner, which has also released bottles for the league's All Star Game and to commemorate retirements of star players. The winery's owner, Dave Miner, is a huge hockey fan, Mr. Haskins said. He was hooked up with the league by San Jose-based wine retailer Bert George, a season-ticket holder of the league's San Jose Sharks.

Anyone else a little surprised that the first Winter Classic didn't have wine? You know, considering that Sid ... nah, too easy.

There are 220 cases of Wrigley Field edition Winter Classic wine, and less than half are in Chicago. The rest went to the Joseph George wine shop and to individual teams for sale, with proceeds going to Hockey Fights Cancer and other charities. Bottles with labels are $33, and bottles with engraving and etching can fetch over $150.

The Bert George Web site offers a glimpse at other NHL-related wines, including the Mario Lemieux Retirement Bottle and a hand-painted vintage presented to Owen Nolan.

Has anyone out there had a hockey-related wine before? We actually have a bottle of screw-top red that commemorates the Carolina Hurricanes' 10th anniversary season at Puck Daddy HQ. It was purchased in the bargain bin at an Outer Banks supermarket, and then sat in a hot car for about three days. We're not really sure what to do with it.

(Not sure how many wine-drinkers we have in the readership, but Puck Daddy endorses Seven Deadly Zins and Earthquake cab from the Michael David winery in Lodi. Lethal stuff.)

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