As a ten-time NBA All-Star, three-time Olympic gold medal winner and the ninth highest all-time NBA points leader, Carmelo Anthony has already proven himself on the court. Now he’s racking up big wins in the champagne and wine world. Anthony has partnered with Moët & Chandon, appearing in their ‘Grace Under Pressure’ campaign, come out with his own wine label and has been hosting a ‘What’s In Your Glass’ series of interviews. I spoke with Anthony about why he wanted to work with Moët, what sparked his interest in wine and what’s in his own glass after a tough game.
How did you first get into wine?
It was the early 2000s. It was more about just going to a restaurant and sitting at the bar and having a glass of wine, not wanting a spirit or something too strong. I thought I knew what I was doing.
When did it go from enjoying a glass to becoming a passion?
It came gradually. The more I was drinking and the more I was around it the more I started to try and understand it. Once I got to New York with the Knicks my palate expanded.
Which wines did you like at first?
I was into Dominus, Pahlmeyer, a bunch of Napa valley wines. The beauty is that it was 2005, 2006, so I really got a chance to drink some good Napa wines because those years were very good.
Tell me about your partnership with Moët & Chandon.
It’s a very unique one. Understanding what their brand is about, their partnership with the NBA and their messaging, I felt like I needed to be a part of Moët. You’re drinking good champagne, but being the champagne of choice for the NBA – it elevated them as far as branding. The drink in the locker room when you win the championship.
How have you participated with them?
Last year we did a campaign celebrating greatness. We did my Olympic journey winning 3 gold medals, and Sue Bird and Don C did their journeys. I loved the ads, the look, the feel and the overall messaging.
What do you enjoy most about Champagne?
Champagne is fun. It’s refreshing. The average mind thinks we should be only be drinking it at certain times in certain places. But you can open a bottle at any time, especially a good bottle. It doesn’t matter when you drink it.
Sports are associated with beer, but more and more athletes are stepping into the wine world. Are the fans following you?
Beer will always dominate sports fans, but I think they’re starting to accept the wine industry. Everything is surrounded by Budweiser, Coors and Michelob, but now another lane has opened up for sports and wine. The prestige of sports and the prestige of wine – it’s only right that they go hand in hand.
You’ve also been doing your own wine interview series’What’s In Your Glass?‘
It started during quarantine. It was friends and family on zoom hanging out drinking wine telling stories. That was the way we had to entertain ourselves because we couldn’t get out of the house. One thing led to another and I found myself on Mondays doing ‘Whats In Your Glass?’ It just gradually happened, it was very organic. Fast forward to today and I’m working on the second season.
Which guests have you had on?
Everyone from Snoop Dogg to Mary J. Blige to Aunjanue Ellis, the beautiful actress. I’ve had athletes, I’ve had entertainers. When I look back at the first season I’m like damn, we really had an eclectic group of people.
Did you learn anything surprising from them?
It wasn’t surprising, it was more informative. Jumping into their world and seeing what they’re doing outside of their respective fields. You take somebody like Mary J. Blige and her Sun Goddess wine label. Take Snoop Dog who’s touching every genre out there that there could be possibly be. Take T-Pain – no one would ever expect he’d come out with a cocktail book. When you start doing the research and talk with him you realize how much he’s in bed with these real mixologists and how big a lane mixology is. That’s something I never thought about.
You also have your own wine label.
I started VII (N) – The Seventh Estate. Our first vintage was a 2017 Oath of Fidelity Châteauneuf-du-Pape. I wanted to start in Rhone region. It was out of left field, coming into the wine industry with a Châteauneuf-du-Pape, as opposed to what would have been expected from me, which is a Napa Cabernet or an Oregon Pinot. The way we came into the game, the way we went about this winemaking process and building this estate, Rhone Châteauneuf-du-Pape was the region I really wanted to touch. I trust my palate to know ‘ok I think people will like this.’
Are you also a cocktail person?
I am a cocktail person, but I don’t have a favorite. I’ll do a Moscow Mule, a Manhattan or Mudslide here and there. I love Kentucky bourbon. I’m a big Pappy Van Winkle guy. And I love Macallan.
Have you had any memorable drinks with one of your heroes?
Well, I mean Michael Jordan is always the guy I can say I had plenty of drinks with. He’d be on top of the list.
Tell me about The Carmelo Anthony Foundation.
We have a program ‘Courts 4 Kids’ building basketball courts in underprivileged communities from New York all the way down to Puerto Rico, where we have eight courts. Our first international basketball courts are two in South Africa.
Another program is ‘Tools for Teachers,’ where we provide teachers with the supplies that they really need. We don’t want money coming out of their pockets for resources for the kids. I want to provide that for them because their job is to be educators and teach and look after the students.
What’s the best drink after winning a tough game?
Red wine. Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It would definitely be my wine for sure.
What’s the best drink after a bad game?
You go to get a cocktail after that.