Last year around this time my editor suggested I do a wine column with a Ski to Sea theme for the 2014 race.
My first thought was that this was just a little nutty (wine in a hydration pack for bikers?), but I simply chalked it up to a profession where one must have to be a bit off-keel to begin with. After all, when you consider the stress of meeting publishing deadlines and dealing with occasionally flippant writers like me, you can't expect an editor to come up with sound advice all of the time.
But after giving it some thought, I started to realize this might not be such a bad idea after all, because it gives me the opportunity to show how a segment of the wine industry has embraced versatility and portability.
Assuming we consider the implication here to be post-race, rather than pre-race wines (with ample hydrating beverages on hand, of course), let me offer a few suggestions that might make good take-along wines to consider during Ski to Sea weekend:
Skiers and snowboarders - You'll probably need to do a little warming up in the cooler elevations of Mount Baker and a port-style wine after this stage could be just the ticket.
Try the Graham's Six Grapes Non-Vintage Reserve Porto (about $13 for 375 ml, $23 for 750 ml). It's loaded with rum raisin flavors and a monstrous 19.5 percent alcohol content that balances out the lengthy, semi-sweet finish.
Bikers - A box wine can easily be strapped onto a bike, and you might be pleasantly surprised to find that the quality of wines in these cubed containers has improved markedly.
I've gotten good feedback on Black Box Wines (about $22 to $24) and Kennewick's Badger Mountain 2013 Organic White Wine (about $20). Both of these labels carry the hefty equivalent of four 750 ml bottles.
Black Box currently features wines such as a 2013 California Pinot Gris, a 2013 Sauvignon Blanc from Chile and a 2012 Malbec from Argentina. As an added (or should I say, non-added) bonus, the Badger Mountain wine contains no sulfites.
Canoeists and kayakers - Although I don't have any specific recommendations, unbreakable waterproof wine pouches would seem to be ideal for after this stage, and they're easy to find in the wine section of local grocers.
The benefits of pouches are undeniable: eco-friendly packaging, built-in handles, and an integrated spout to keep your wine fresh for an extended period of time.
To the winners - No surprises here; just break out the bubbly. I'd highly recommend anything from Yakima's Treveri Cellars, and their Blanc de Blanc Brut (about $14) is a favorite. Explosive citrus and crisp, green apple flavors highlight this tasty, sparkling wine that is simply unbeatable at this price point.
Dan Radil is a wine enthusiast who lives in Bellingham. Reach him at danthewineguy.com.