The first sip of James Harden’s cabernet sauvignon caused a visceral stepback, and the sudden urge to chuck my glass at any wastebasket within 30 feet. Completely bereft of any tannins, the bouquet was as generic as seemingly any bottle picked off the shelves of a 7-Eleven, and went down with equal ease.
Up until a stomach ache, undoubtedly caused by this swill, ended my foray into a mid-workday buzz, I could envision drinking several bottles of J-Harden as a way to combat my fleeting self-worth. Have a bad day at the office? Completely disappear during a critical meeting?
J-Harden will have you feeling as empty as his stat line within a few drops. When I uncork a bottle of cab sav, I expect a full body, legs, and enough viscosity to coat your mouth for the rest of the evening. J-Harden had none of that. There was no oaky afterbirth, or lingering flavor to dispel with handfuls of gouda. It just came and went, like a slightly fermented bottle of Welch’s grape juice that had been filtered through a vat of mocha-scented strippers.
Not only is this bad wine, but it’s also cloying, a sugary attempt to capitalize on the trend of NBA players investing in vineyards. CJ McCollum didn’t spend his days off in Willamette Valley developing his palate to have his venture sullied like this. The Chinese people who bought 10,000 bottles from Harden’s livestream are getting the exact kind of wine you think would be sold on a livestream. I hope they like beef bourguignon, because the only inherent value in a bottle of J-Harden is to deglaze a pot of stew.
It was everything you’d expect, but worse. I had no sudden motivation to force my way to Bleacher Report, or blame my editors for a lack of traffic. I didn’t even want to go to the Spearmint Rhino, and I don’t need an elevated BAC to be talked into perversions of the skin.
The overarching reaction of everybody I could convince to sample it was a grimace followed by a laugh. According to the J-Harden wine website, the line has “A taste, look, and a feel that matches his personality.”
On that description, I agree — it tastes like what an 18-year-old girl thinks wine tastes like, the floral pattern on the bottle appears to be lifted directly from one of his pregame fits, and the feel is that of an aging All-Star grasping at his waning relevance.
For those who question how I could glean all that from half a glass of wine, don’t. I’ve sampled Dwyane Wade’s rosé from the Hall of Famer himself, and that was a crisp, refreshing blend perfect for a cool summer day, and I’m not saying that just because he was clutch, and won three rings.
My tastebuds are as objective as my journalism, and I don’t break them for nobody. So when I say that J-Harden wine is an affront to a proud industry, and should be poured out like a drunkard ridding his house of all alcohol, you know I’m telling the truth.