Kuzma explains his love for wine collecting to NBCSW originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
WASHINGTON -- Last month, when asked about his offseason training regimen, Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma explained how he likes to go all-in and fully commit. That same approach can be seen in his fashion choices. Some might say he goes too far (past the wrists).
It would also apply to his hobby of drinking wine and collecting bottles. Kuzma makes no secret about his affinity for vintage reds, and the story behind how he got so into them is a tale of things evolving quickly.
Kuzma had enjoyed wine with friends before, but it wasn't until his rookie season with the L.A. Lakers when his then-teammate Andrew Bogut took a group of players out to dinner in Portland. Kuzma tried a bottle of Caymus, from Napa Valley in California, and from there his eyes were opened to how well a good bottle of wine can go with dinner and friends.
"It was really, really good tasting and just made me relaxed and have a great dinner. It was just a great conversation among people. I think after that moment, wine has always been a part of me," Kuzma told NBC Sports Washington.
"After that dinner, it was like 'okay, I gotta start getting into wine and trying them.' So, I bought a small, little fridge and that fridge eventually turned into a medium-size and then into a fridge of like 150 [bottles]. Now in my home back West, I have like a 750-bottle cellar."
That Lakers dinner was just four years ago, but in the time since Kuzma's appreciation for wine has taken him all over the world. He often collects bottles on road trips during the season, as well as on vacations in the summer.
In 2019, Kuzma went on a wine tour in Australia during an off-day while playing for Team USA at the FIBA World Cup. He rode in a helicopter to vineyards in the countryside.
"I really just tried wine all day. It was just so fun," he said.
Kuzma has had wine that dates back to 1925 and even 1865, though the latter tasted more like cognac, he says. It was from the Gulf of Portugal.
"It wasn't that good because it was just so old. But it was just cool, I was drinking something that I don't know who the president was at that time," he said. (there were two that year: Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson)
Kuzma's oldest bottle in D.C. at the moment is from 1972. His general favorites are more current and, despite his NBA salary of $13 million per year, more affordable than you might expect.
He broke down his preferences by price range, including one you can probably find at your local grocery store.
"This is going to be funny, but serious though: it's a bottle, like $25, it's called Sexual Chocolate. Great wine for if you have like Wednesday night with the friends, pizza and cards, perfect wine. Twenty five bucks, very affordable," Kuzma explained.
"Then, if I'm going a little mid-class, I might go with a Caymus. A Caymus wine, I'm sure you know what that is. That's probably around $75. Then, my preference of a high-end bottle would have to probably be a Spanish wine called Valbuena. It's from the Unico family."
Kuzma didn't specify the price of the last one, instead he smiled and said: "That's up there."
Kuzma said his favorite bottle is probably Sassicaia, a Spanish wine. Those run several hundred dollars a bottle, depending on the vintage.
Part of why Kuzma favors wine is because he can drink it during the season. While beer and other spirits are too heavy for his diet as an NBA athlete, he can handle a glass of wine or two, as long as he drinks enough water to stay hydrated.
"I think everything in life is about moderation. It's not like you're downing two bottles a night with friends. That's a little obsessive. At least in the summertime, it's okay. But during the season if you have a glass or a glass-and-a-half [it's fine]," he said.
"I think as long as you're drinking water at the same time; the golden rule is one glass of wine, three glasses of water. It's kind of hard to chug three glasses of water with wine, but I just try to keep it like that."
Kuzma likes pinot noirs, in particular, and so much that for an energy drink company he co-founded called Barcode, he chose to name his signature flavor 'Pinot Noir.' It's a plant-based, grape-flavored drink with zero alcohol content. The website even has a disclaimer to prevent confusion.
When it comes to actual wine, Kuzma said his ideal winetasting table would include fellow NBA players LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Love and Josh Hart. Kuzma says Hart, in particular, knows a lot about wine.
So where could all of this lead? Kuzma's love of wine has already developed into an extensive hobby, all in just four years. At some point, his NBA career will be over and he will have a lot of money to work with.
Maybe, he says, he will get into the winemaking business.
"I could see myself when I'm 45 living on a vineyard picking grapes or shoveling dirt. I could definitely see me leading down that way. Or, even making my own wine. You just never know. I definitely have a passion for it. I enjoy drinking it and everything that comes with it," he said.