Zap2it: You’re a wine enthusiast. Which wine drew you in?
Ron Darling: Oh boy. There was a restaurant called The Giraffe, and it was in New York City and it was the first time I had gone to one of those restaurants. And I’m talking about where the bill hurts — hurts your pocketbook, hurts your feelings but you have to do it. And I remember that I drank a La Cache that night and I was wooing a girl and she loved wine and I remember the evening because of the girl, but I also remember the evening because at some point I forgot about the girl and kind of got fixated on how delicious the wine was.
Zap2it: Do you have any preference in varietals?
Ron Darling: I would say bolder makes more sense to me. I know when I had my first French white burgundy, I thought that I’d died and gone to heaven because I’d never tasted anything that was so rich as far as a wine was concerned. I’ve been lucky to have two or three mentors in my time that have taught me everything. … From Rusty Staub to a friend of mine, Dr. John Olichney, they are experts in wine and I’ve learned everything I know about it from them.
Zap2it: And Staub, your ex-teammate, owned a few restaurants in New York.
Ron Darling: In my rookie year, I used to ride back in the van that Rusty had that would transport not only all his ribs and meat to his restaurants, but also his wine. And I started drinking fine wine with him and Keith Hernandez and wine that was luckily in their price point, not in my price point. So I was lucky enough to drink some of the finest bottles of French and Italian, and this is before California went crazy, so there was a real snobbiness about drinking Italian and French wine.