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Introducing Luchador ... the wine!?
By DAVE BURZYNSKI - For SLAM! Wrestling


"Ladies and Gentlemen, introducing... from South Australia, weighing in at 750 milliliters, the Heavyweight Wine Champion of the World... Luchador!"

This may sound like any in-ring introduction for a professional wrestler, but for this new product to hit the fine beverage market, it’s quite different. We’re talking about a wine here.

But not just any wine.

This one has a wrestling theme to it. In the land of action figures, trading cards, bobbleheads, lunch boxes, and thumb wrestlers, finally, a marketable product geared towards adults.

Luchador Shiraz is the brainchild of owner Dan Phillips and winemaker Chris Ringwald. Founded in 2005, Luchador is but one of many fine wines in the R Wine Company’s portfolio. In only its second vintage, the quaff is making a giant splash in the fine wine market and has caught the eye of wrestling fans and collectors as well.

With each vintage, a series of four rotating colorful labels appear, pictured with a different masked Luchador on each bottle. For the initial 2006 series, immortals of the Mexican ring such as El Jeffe, Gigante, El Rey, and Malo were chosen. For the 2007 vintage, wrestlers Inferno, El Diamante, Temblor, and Gato Loco grace the labels. On the back tag of each bottle, there is a brief whimsical description of each wrestler’s hobbies and odd character habits, along with other pertinent information required by law.

The wine itself came about by accident. Young men sitting around watching a Los Angeles Lakers game were no longer interested in beer as their beverage of choice. They asked for a wine to be produced that was big in flavor yet small in price. With the help of a creative graphic design team, who came up with the idea of using Lucha Libre wrestlers as their marketing tool, the rest is history.

As for the taste and quality of the product, here is my personal wine notes and review that I did for my newsletter (www.champanes.com):

"Time for a little Smackdown as I prepare to go head to head, or bottle to palate, with a new wine out of Australia called Luchador. This Shiraz, culled from vines 10 to 50 years of age, is produced from grapes that hail from both the McLaren Vale and Barossa Valley. With bottle in hand and El Rey staring me straight in the eye, with no referee, no time limit, and no holds barred, it was time to do battle.

Opening with a deep dark color, this very fruit forward gem with blackberry and blueberry flavors landed the first punches. With soft spice, coffee, licorice, and cedar notes, this was turning out to be more of a scientific match than an all-out brawl. Elegant and well balanced like a Lou Thesz Broadway, there was no foreign objectives to be found in this wine that would make me turn heel in disgust. With a lineage of good fruit and a great winemaker, the soft floral finish pinned my palate for the 1-2-3 victory. At a Bruiser payoff price point of under $15, there is a new champion just waiting to be crowned."


Having retired as a wrestling manager, working with such stars as The Sheik, Killer Brooks, The Fabulous Kangaroos, Mickey Doyle, Al Snow and a host of other wrestling greats, wine has always been my passion. While everyone else was drinking beer after a night’s show, it was wine that found its way down my gullet. These days, I spend my retirement and continue my passion working as wine manager for Champane’s Wine Cellars, the largest fine wine shop in the State of Michigan, and second largest in the Midwest.


Dave Burzynski, middle, at a wine tasting with Hockey Hall of Famers Ted Lindsay and Igor Larionov.
I was introduced to Luchador Shiraz by one of my customers, an old-school wrestling fan who knew about both of my first loves -- wrestling and wine. I was happily surprised by the fact that someone had found a way to honor athletes from the squared circle and at the same time, make a quality wine that I could enjoy and recommend a new find to other wrestling fans who visit me on a regular basis.

Luchador wines can be found throughout the United States at various fine wine shops. For those north of the border in Canada, I suggest checking with your local LCBO for availability. If you are a Canadian who loves wine, I suggest going to the website of my good friend Michael Pinkus (www.ontariowinereview.com) who is the leading authority on wines from Canada. We plan on sharing some wines together very soon and you might be able to read his own review on Luchador Shiraz, if I’m able to body slam him, put him in a Camel Clutch, and make him tap out in hopes of trying a new wine.

RELATED LINKS

  • Previous SLAM! Wrestling reviews (This is, believe it or not, the first wine review!)
  • The Grateful Palate website

    Dave Burzynski worked as a manager in 1970s through the 1980s as Supermouth Dave Drason, in the Detroit area for Big Time Wrestling and throughout Canada for George Cannon's Superstars of Wrestling. He also writes for Wrestling Revue magazine, and is a big supporter of the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame, Titans in Toronto, the Cauliflower Alley Club, and Alicia's House charity. He still does some autograph shows, guest stints as a ring announcer for Big Time Wrestling, and numerous radio shows that feature pro wrestling. Having retired from wrestling and after 32 years at AT&T, he currently works as the wine manager for Michigan's largest wine shop, Champane's Wine Cellars.