Rugby meets Wine: When the winners are All Black and white

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Sarah Szegota
Since: Nov 2010 Posts: 130

Head Thirsty Girl, Leslie Sbrocco shares why New Zealand not only rocks, it’s on a roll. The “All Blacks” won the battle on the field and the “all whites” took top accolades in the glass...

"This past weekend the Kiwi national rugby team, the All Blacks, scored an emotional victory over their top rivals, France, to win the Rugby World Cup. As one of the largest sporting events on the planet, people from all over the world flocked to the small island nation to watch the six-week long series of games between nations such as Australia, Italy, South Africa, and the United States.

I was one of those who made the trek half way across the globe to attend not only a rugby match, but also to take part in a battle of the bottles. New Zealanders are obsessed by their national sport, but they’re also proud of the country’s wine culture. Winging to the land of the long white cloud – as the local Maori people call New Zealand – I was the American judge for a wine competition dubbed the First Fifteen.

Held in Nelson, one of the most picturesque spots in New Zealand, the focus of the event was to showcase aromatic white wines from countries across the world taking part in the Rugby World Cup (fifteen refers to the number of players on a rugby team). The good-natured battle I took part in was the wine counterpart to the game being played between the United States and Italy hosted in Nelson, the birthplace of rugby in New Zealand.

Aromatic is a term used to describe wines that have a uniquely fragrant personality: floral, peach-scented Riesling, juicy, tropical Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio), and assertive, spicy Gewurztraminer are examples.

Other top Rugby countries like France and Australia could rightly lay claim to having top aromatics (Alsace in France is home to iconic Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer while Australia’s Clare and Eden Valleys rank high in Riesling), but this battle was between titans Italy, New Zealand and the United States."

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