Astar player for most of his 15 recent years in the National Basketball Association, Amar’e Stoudemire was a starter, rarely a reserve player who came off the bench.
Today, “Stoudemire Reserve” is a mark of pride for him. The Stoudemire line of kosher wines, that is.
Stoudemire, 35, who late in his NBA career boasted of his Jewish roots on his mother’s side and played pro ball in Israel last season, this week unveiled three varieties of Israeli wine whose labels bear his name.
The trio — Stoudemire Reserve, a Cabernet Sauvignon; Stoudemire Grand Reserve, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot; and Stoudemire Private Collection, a mix of several varieties — were produced at the “Stoudemire Cellars” of Kfar Shamai in the Upper Galilee, imported and distributed by the Royal Wine Corp., and launched at a major donors wine-tasting reception at the Jewish National Fund House in Manhattan.
“He loves wine. He made it kosher because he made it in Israel,” Gabe Geller, director of public relations for Royal Wine, said of Stoudemire, who played last season for the championship Hapoel Jerusalem team after retiring from the NBA; he’s also a part-owner of the team.
Stoudemire, who identifies himself as a Hebrew Israelite has studied Hebrew, and has a Star of David tattoo and served as a coach in the 2013 Maccabiah Games, maintains a kosher diet. “I follow all the laws of Moses, Passover with unleavened bread, Yom Kippur, the culture and the law of the land,” he said in an interview with the New York Post.
Hence, his kosher wines.
A reserve wine is of a higher quality than usual, or has been aged before being sold, or both. Winemakers traditionally would “reserve” some of their best wine rather than sell it immediately.
“The wines are for people who love Israel and are curious about the wine that he likes,” said Geller. “They will attract people who are interested in basketball and know his name.”
They’re for oenophiles with rich taste — a bottle of Stoudemire’s Grand Reserve is priced at $80 a bottle and above, about four times the cost for a typical bottle of kosher wine. “They’re high-end,” Geller said. The supply of Stoudemire’s wines — 250 cases on the U.S. market — is limited.
The Stoudemire label is the first known line of wines bearing the name of ever-branding-conscious NBA players, Geller said.
A gourmand who is known to host Shabbat meals at his home, Stoudemire did not play a hands-on role in producing the wines — to be acceptable to kosher consumers, kosher wine must be handled only by Sabbath-observant Jews — but his palate was involved. Stoudemire tested each blend to make sure it was acceptable.
The Stoudemire wines are not mevushal (boiled); mevushal wines are less susceptible to ritual proscription.
His wines are being released in time for Passover this year.
Will Stoudemire use his own line if he hosts his own seders next month?
“That is very likely,” Geller said.
Stoudemire is a devotee of vinotherapy, soaking in a tub of wine as a form of relaxation.
Is he likely to relax in a tub of wine that bears his name?
Geller isn’t sure. “I would rather drink the wine than soak in it,” he said.