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TBS analyst pitches wine for diabetes research

By George Dickie Tribune Media Services
Sept. 3, 2014 at 10 p.m.

Ron Darling has had a long-term love affair with wine extending from the early 1980s and his days as a rookie pitcher with the New York Mets to the present.

He has fond remembrances of the La Cache that got him into wine, and he thought he'd died and gone to heaven when he tried his first French white burgundy.

He liked to drink the expensive wines his veteran teammates could afford.

So when his son Jordan was diagnosed at age 11 with Type 1 diabetes, he got the idea to put his passion to work for a good cause.

In cooperation with Donelan Wines of Sonoma County, Calif., he released the Darling Reserve, a petite syrah, this summer to support Type 1 diabetes research.

Though initially fearful the $45 per bottle price point might turn off the average wine drinker, Darling was heartened when the 150 cases sold out in about a month.

Now it's on to a bigger release.

"I'm so proud of it because all my friends are winos in the nicest sense of the word," quips Darling, an analyst on TBS' Sunday games, "so I was apprehensive that I would make a wine that I hoped that they would love. And to a man and woman I've gotten such great reviews of it, so I'm very happy."

"It's expensive enough to be a really good wine," he continues, "and then also it's not too dear, so it includes everyone. And I'm a big person of inclusivity. I want everyone to have a chance. You know, some people are going to buy a case; some people are going to be able to afford only a bottle, and I think that's cool, too."

As for his own tastes, Darling says he has no preference when it comes to red or white.

"I'm a food/wine guy, which makes me a red and white guy," the 54-year-old Massachusetts native says. "I'm all about how the wine and food go together. I wouldn't say I'm a huge drinker of wine.

"If I go to dinner, I always ask the sommelier what wine is going to maximize the taste of the steak or whatever dish I'm having that night. And if white is recommended, that'll be the glass I have. If red is recommended, that'll be the glass I have, also. So I'm all about the combination of entertaining, food and wine, all of that mixed together. I don't have any bias against - I only drink red, I only drink white, or as in 'Sideways,' I only drink pinot noir."

And when it comes to trying new wines, he doesn't take advice from the Internet.

"I've been lucky to have two or three mentors in my time that have taught me everything," he says. "I'm not a Google guy. I don't want to learn from the computer. I want people to tell me their experiences - from (ex-teammate) Rusty Staub to a friend of mine, (former Mets team physician) Dr. John Olichney, they are experts in wine and I've learned everything I know about it from them and it's been a great experience.

"I'm a person of discovery and acquiring knowledge, and wine is one of those things that teaches you forever."



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