What's an appropriate wine to serve at a Chicago White Sox themed party? What wine would be a good gift for a hard core White Sox fan?
Great beginnings, world championships, scandal and 88 years of frustration – such was the history of the Chicago White Sox until 2005. That year, the White Sox defeated the Houston Astros to win their third World Series and end what some considered to be a curse on Chicago's South Side baseball team.
The Chicago White Sox began as a minor league team that moved to Chicago in 1900 and joined the American League the next year. From the beginning, the White Sox (originally named the White Stockings) played well and hit hard. The team won world championships in 1906 and 1917 and earned another trip to the World Series in 1919, only to lose to the Cincinnati Reds. The next year, the ugly truth came out: several White Sox players, including some of the team's stars, had conspired to lose the series in order to gain money from gamblers who profited from the game-fixing scheme. Although the eight players involved were acquitted of criminal charges, they were banned from baseball for life. The White Sox lost "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, Eddie Cicotte, Claude "Lefty" Williams and other key members of the team, and the Sox' fortunes plummeted. In fact, the team was, at least in some people's minds, afflicted by the "Curse of the Black Sox," or at least by an extreme case of mediocrity.
The White Sox won the 1959 pennant and a few division titles during the following years, but failed to win a World Series until 2005, when they beat the Houston Astros in four straight games. Since 2005, the White Sox have struggled, with the exception of the 2008 season, when they finished first in the American League Central Division. Unfortunately, the Sox lost the league championship series to the Tampa Bay Rays.
After the 2011 season, Robin Ventura, himself a former White Sox, joined the team as manager. Several players left or were traded, giving the team a reshaped roster and an opportunity to rebuild.
Although attendance has wavered over the years, depending on the White Sox' fortunes, fans have been remarkably loyal in recent years. Attendance at U. S. Cellular Field since the 2005 World Series victory has been fairly consistent, topping 2 million each year. Chicago White Sox fans are known for their intense dislike of their team's cross-town rivals, the Chicago Cubs, as well as the Minnesota Twins, Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers. President Obama is perhaps the White Sox' best-known fan, but plenty of people from Chicago and the surrounding area are more than ready to cheer their team on to victory, especially if the White Sox are playing the Cubs.
What wine would you pour for a tenaciously loyal White Sox fan?
Interestingly, one Wisconsin winery is housed in a building that is tied to White Sox history. Cedar Creek Winery is housed in an old woolen mill that dates back to the 1860s. Long ago, the mill workers manufactured blankets, fabric and, most notably, uniform socks for the Chicago White Sox. Today, the mill has been transformed into a winery and tasting room. Cedar Creek Winery offers daily tours and tastings as well as special events throughout the year. Don't miss the Waterfall Riesling, which won platinum at the 2012 San Diego International Wine Competition, or the La Belle V(ie), formerly known as Cedar Creek Vidal, which also won platinum at the same competition in addition to double gold at the 2012 San Francisco International Wine Competition and the 2012 Florida State Fair International Wine Competition. Cedar Creek Winery's Bon Vivant, formerly known as Old Mill Red, won Best of Class for Marechal Foch wines and a gold medal at the 2012 Pacific Rim International Wine Competition. Expect to pay $8.50 for a bottle of La Belle V(ie) and $9 for the Waterfall Riesling and Bon Vivant.
Of course, you can't go wrong if you pour wine from northern Illinois for your favorite White Sox fan. Famous Fossil Vineyard & Winery, located in Freeport, may not be as old as the White Sox team, but it has a history all its own. Owner and winemaker Ken Rosmann has served as president of Northern Illinois Wine Growers and applies his expertise in organic farming to growing cool-climate grapes and crafting red, white and fruit wines. The winery offers cooking classes, wineglass painting classes, tastings and special events. Expect to pay $15 for a bottle of 2010 Over the Moon, a sparkling white wine which won a silver medal at the 2012 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition, and $20 for a bottle of 2010 Fossil Rock Red, which also won silver at that competition.
Prairie State Winery in Genoa, Illinois, is owned by former schoolteachers Rick and Maria Mamoser. Rick turned winemaker in 1999 and has been creating award-winning wines made from Illinois-grown grapes ever since. Rick was named 2011 Winemaker of the Year by the Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association. Prairie State Illinois Chambourcin Reserve 2010 won Best of Show at the 2012 Illinois State Fair Wine Competition, following in the footsteps of Prairie State Cabernet Franc 2009, which won Best of Show at the 2010 and 2011 Illinois State Fair Wine Competitions. Stop by for a Friday Wine Down or a Saturday tour. You can taste Prairie State wines at the Genoa winery and at Prairie on State Wine Cellars in Sycamore, Prairie State's new tasting room. You'll pay $17 for a bottle of the Chambourcin Reserve 2010 and $21.50 for a bottle of the Cabernet Franc 2009.