Hall of Famer and Chicago Bears football coach Mike Ditka was a legendary arch rival of the Purple and Gold, but he hopes his wine and cigar line will win over Vikings fans.
Da Coach signed purchased bottles of his wine and cigar gift boxes from 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday June 5, at Northeast's own Surdyk’s liquor store, 303 East Hennepin Avenue. Dozens of fans in Bears jerseys stood in a line in a downpour outside to get his autograph.
The ex-coach turned wine maker hasn't lost any of his surliness. When a naive customer asked him to look up and smile for a photo, Ditka said gruffly, "I used up all of my smiles."
Appropriately enough, he named his flagship premium blend: “Kick Ass Red.” Mikeditkawines.com describes it as a “dry red wine” with “flavors of jammy wild blackberry, freshly ground black pepper and toasty vanilla.” Ditka says it's good, but warns that it has some bite to it. It sells for $49.99 per bottle/$599.88 per case available at Surdyk's and online.
Ditka partnered with Mendocino Wine Company in Northern California to create “Kick Ass Red” and four more moderately priced wines, including a cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, merlot, and pinot grigio ranging from $13.99 to $19.99 per bottle. He also teamed with Pacific Cigar Company to create a namesake, hand-rolled cigar also available at Surdyk’s. The “cigar ringband is his Super Bowl ring,” as the website boasts. Promoters are hoping to generate product buzz beyond Illinois where Ditka is worshiped for delivering a Bears Super Bowl victory in January 1986.
Ditka’s appearance coincides with Surdyk’s Heart Healthy Wine Sale running from June 3 to June 5 featuring 20 percent off all wine (including Ditka’s) and 10 percent off all spirits. Saturday is also the final day of Surdyk’s Cheese Shop Favorites Sale, featuring 20 percent off 20 of the shop’s top selling cheeses and 20 “cheesemonger” favorites.
Surdyk's has sales like these throughout the year and free in-store wine tastings every Friday and Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. so there are plenty of opportunities to sample.