Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Grapes & Skates: Pairing Roller Girls with Wine

It’s not every day that your local wine store is filled with women with names like Foxxy Throwdown, Seditious Heart, Sara Problem or Sheeza Brickhouse (alright, maybe yours…certainly not mine). Rarer still to have such bad-ass ladies in your wine store on skates. Wine World threw caution to the wind for their “Pairing Roller Girls with Wine” event featuring UW alumnus and former Rat City Roller Girl Angela Jacobs (aka Killer Bee-otch) and her line of My Derby Wife wines. I’m happy to report that contrary to the laws of sitcom physics, not one derby girl took out a wine display.

For the uninitiated, a little derby 101: derby is a full contact sport in which women with fabulous, punny, intimidating and occasionally vulgar nicknames score points by getting their scoring player (the Jammer) around the track and past the opposing team’s pack. They do all of this on skates, travelling at high speeds. It’s tough. It takes a special sort of fearlessness to don tights, short-shorts, and skate your heart out for a crowd while other women are attempting to hip-check and otherwise level you. Roller Derby has enjoyed a resurgence in the Pacific Northwest, with the Rat City Roller Girls now skating for packed crowds in a Sonics-less Key Arena and stoking a healthy rivalry with Portland’s Rose City Rollers. These women are PhD’s, lawyers, medical professionals by day, and they pour their free time, sweat and bruises into making the Rat City experience happen. (Derby exists on the work of these women – the skaters and volunteers secure marketing, sponsorship, effects for bouts - the whole shebang.)

In her former life, before moving to the East side of the mountains to dedicate herself to WineGirl Wines, Angela Jacobs was donning fuzzy antennae and striking fear into the hearts of fellow derby girls as Killer Bee-otch for Rat City’s Grave Danger. Angela’s experience in derby inspired her to launch the My Derby Wife line. A Derby Wife, as Angela describes it, is your Best Derby Friend. This is the woman who is your kindred Derby spirit, who inspires you, who pushes you, probably kicks your ass a little, and when you see her out on the track you just know. You might not even get along out in the real world, but in the Derby world, this is the person who is going to have your back, and vice versa. As Angela produced the newest vintage of the My Derby Wife collection, she looked to the Rat City Roller Girls for inspiration, pairing each skater with a wine befitting their unique personalities.


The inspirations turned out in full force, with many other Roller Girls and their admirers packing out the Wine World tasting area. The crowd spilled out into the Oregon and Washington aisles. Wine World is no small venue, and this was no small turnout. With their skates, the girls easily towered over many of the patrons, and there were plenty of star-struck derby fans excited to meet the girls off the track. Tickets in hand, we braved the crowd to check out the 6 derby-inspired wines being poured by the friendly Wine World staff.:
2008 Scarlet Leather Merlot
2008 Sheeza Brickhouse Cabernet Franc
2008 Cosmic Rains Cabernet Sauvignon
2008 Sara Problem Malbec
2008 Deadly Aim Red Wine Blend
2009 Foxy Throwdown Gewurtzraminer
2009 Selma Soul Chardonnay
Angela’s original Derby wife is current Grave Danger Coach Sheeza Brickhouse, and the inspiration for the 2008 Cabernet Franc. Her Cab Franc is a nice, medium-bodied wine with a hint of that nice spice. Having seen Sheeza on the track and as a coach, the feisty spice seems a perfect fit. I asked Angela to do that thing winemaker’s sometimes hate to do, and pick their favorite wine being poured. For her, it’s the Deadly Aim Red Blend, the first wine we tried that evening. This Bordeaux style blend had some bite, but a beautiful finish. Fun fact: Deadly Aim gave Angela a deviated septum back when they were skating together. I told you, it’s rough and tumble out there!

Of the whites, Foxxy Throwdown Gewurtztraminer was my favorite, with a nice but not cloying sweetness and hints of peach on the nose. Though I hate the word, this definitely has a moist feel, almost melting onto the palette. I will admit, I’m a tough sell on Chardonnay, but the Selma Soul was a pleasant surprise, with light oakiness and a slight apple taste that lingers on the palette.

The Cosmic Rains Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from the Columbia Valley, and brought a light, fruity nose that opened up into a nice, full but balanced wine with a medium finish. My favorite of the night, and not just because the namesake told me it would be, was the Sara Problem Malbec. Washington is putting out some fantastic Malbecs, and this was no exception. Spicy and full-bodied with a long finish and great tannin structure, Sara Problem would be great to sip after work or to pair with a nice piece of steak on a summer evening.

My Derby Wife is a small lot, so get to Wine World soon to check it out. You have a bit more time to check out the Rat City Roller Girls. On July 10, you can watch undefeated Grave Danger take on the Throttle Rockets for the Championship while the Sockit Wenches battle it out with Derby Liberation Front at Key Arena. As Angela says, the only true pairing for a My Derby Wife wine is a killer roller derby bout. Take it from a season-ticket holder, you won't regret it!


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