If NASCAR Drivers Were Wine...

James BroomheadAnalyst IJune 24, 2009

SONOMA, CA - JUNE 21: Kasey Kahne, driver of the #9 Budweiser Dodge, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at the Infineon Raceway on June 21, 2009 in Sonoma, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)

It’s a question often asked at (admittedly mostly Yuppie) parties after more alcohol that ideal has been drunk, “If you were a wine, what would you be?” I personally have never been asked, but I like to imagine such a question exists.

So with Sonoma behind us, and the long panning shots of the hilltop vineyards being shown, instead of (I don’t know) actual racing, I got to thinking, what wines would a handful of NASCARs latest and greatest (and some others) be.

Jimmie Johnson – Widely agreed to be one of the best bottles available on the market, it has sadly been subject to a number of health scares about possible “cutting” with other ingredients, the process being labelled “Knausing” after the head of the vineyard responsible.

While such suggestions have always been dismissed, and the good vintages keep on coming, the last three harvests being the best in the country, one can’t help but feel each new release could be the return of “Knausing”.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. – One of the Chardonnay wines that made the grape so popular early in the decade, it has sadly undergone something that critics refer to as “Chardonnification”, where too many sub-standard years from too many vineyards have started to turn those who deem themselves discerning off the drink, and toward the up and coming wines.

Kyle Busch – A cheap, massed produced blend that divides experts and casual drinkers alike. Widely available, it has become the main drink of those opposed to Earnhardt’s “Chardonnification.”

While it has been commercially successful, many feel that it’s “rowdy” brand image, aimed at rivalling the dominant beer manufacturers in the party and tail-gating scene, has gone too far, and it should concentrate on just being whiney.

Tony Stewart – This large-bodied red has undergone something of transformation in the last year. With the previous producers selling out to a Japanese conglomerate, the head grower left, buying his own land to try and replicate the smokey, summery flavours of previous vintages.

Results from first release have been very promising, suggesting that a return to the good old days could be on the cards. However, the vintner is rumoured to be closely connected to those previously accused of “Knausing”.

Carl Edwards – The chief brand from the Roush vineyard, and the main opposition to the Knaus and Japanese-owned Gibbs concerns.

It is another of the wines that has tried to muscle into other areas of the market, although its milkshake shake well like, “flip before serving”, slogan has been branded irresponsible, as has a tie in with allergy medicine Claritin, which expert Jeremy Mayfield is especially critical of.

Early exports have been mixed, with a Christmas release in UK surprising many European makers, while a later attempt at export by flight out of Alabama was far less successful, leaving many drinkers with the runs.

Juan Montoya – South America is one of the coming regions of wine production and this fiery Merlot is just one sign of that. Unlike the sparkling Ambrose, Montoya has had less immediate success, although a tie-in with a more established US producer has seen almost immediate improvement in quality.

Early vintages were deemed to have too high an alcoholic content for general consumption, with many outlets reporting a single glass of Montoya leading to mass brawls.

Mark Martin – This wine has more in common with many of the high end whiskies than most wines, in that it has got better with age. It has been created quite differently to most other widely available drinks, in that some of what was originally a very successful young wine has been reserved, and rested, before bottling by a different plant.

However, again, some “Knausing” is possible, with Viagra believed to have been added during the ageing process.

David Reutimann – This new white wine with a large nose is among the more promising of the ventures challenging the establishment. Several of the earlier releases were patchy to say the least, with many critics questioning whether the right decisions had been made.

However, a more recent harvest, grown during a wet time of year, have become the vineyard’s first acclaimed bottle, with many hoping that the limited release has shown the way to more consistent greatness.

Casey Mears - Alcohol free wine. While the publicity and advertising are on a par with proper wines, the lack of any substance means it does little more than make up the numbers whenever someone brings it a party.

Marcos Ambrose– A favourite , “fizzed-up”, sparkling wine in its native Australia, it has been swiftly imported to the US and hasn’t looked back since. Goes well with barbecues.

Kasey Kahne – This isn’t wine. This is Bud!

Micheal Waltrip – That 1990s vintage that everyone’s been saving for a special occasion, but always comes out corked.

Sam Hornish Jr. – This wine has never been reviewed as the bottle always arrives smashed.

Dave Blaney – This wine has never even been drunk, as the trucks distributing it always break down only minutes after leaving the vineyard.

Drink Responsibly.