When what you do for a living also happens to be a passion, you’re in a good place. I thank my lucky stars every day that my No. 1 (non-human) passion—wine—is something I get to write about on a regular basis.
My vinous radar is always on, looking for good wine experiences in unusual places—places like a small live theater venue in downtown Indianapolis, as detailed in yesterday’s blog.
I was hoping for another pleasant surprise on Monday when I attended a minor league baseball game between the Toledo Mud Hens and the Syracuse Chiefs at Fifth Third Field in downtown Toledo. I haven’t followed Major League Baseball since the last players’ strike in 1994-95 (yes, you could say that I carry a grudge), but I love going to minor league games, where the players are hungry and, for the most part, play for the love of the game—something I did as a kid.
The timing was good. I happened to be passing through Toledo, and the team had scheduled a rare weekday morning game. First pitch: 10:30. I had seen on the team’s website that there was a bar cart behind section 112 serving, among other adult beverages, wine.
What kind of wine? My vinous radar just had to know.
I arrived in downtown Toledo at 10 o’clock, found a place to park, and walked a couple of blocks to the stadium. As I like to do at any ballpark that I’m visiting the first time, I took a stroll around the perimeter before finding my seat.
It’s a nice park with plenty of right-on-the-action seats and a family-friendly atmosphere. The game itself was pretty run of the mill, except for the first-pitch home run by the Chiefs’ Corey Brown, which seemed to stun the Toledo fans.
In the sixth inning…a.m. having morphed into p.m.,barely…I headed for the bar cart. There was a pretty good selection of beer, ingredients for an array of more potent mixed drinks and, yes, wine.
Specifically: Various varieties of Barefoot Cellars wine, packed in airline-size 187-ml. bottles. I’m not one to drink just to drink, and since I’ve had Barefoot bottlings on numerous occasions, I passed.
Instead, I opted for a chilled bottle of water, accompanied by a new menu addition at Hens’ games this year: a Mexican Hen Dog. I may need a cardiologist after consuming this concoction—a hot dog on a bun, topped with nacho cheese sauce, chili, chopped onions, shredded cheddar cheese, salsa and sour cream—but I’d have to say it was worth it.
The Hens ended up losing the game, 3-1, but for me, it just felt good to be out at a ballpark again. Even if it didn’t turn out to be one of those great wine experiences in an unexpected place.
Sitting to my right in section 112 was a man attending the game with his two sons. A number of local schools had arranged field trips, and this dad was one of the “chaperones.”
After engaging in the usual family-focused small talk, I mentioned why I was there: to check out the “wine scene” at Fifth Third Field. He kind of chuckled and said, “Good luck with that.”
But it turned out that he enjoys wine, and told me about two of his favorite places in Toledo to go for a good meal with good wine. I’ll tell you about those places tomorrow.