Mike Ditka, a former American football coach known for his tirades on the field, has just launched a new wine – Kick Ass Red.

There is nothing surprising about sports stars launching their own wine brands. What distinguishes the abrasive Ditka – whose aggressive style led the Chicago Bears to Super Bowl victory – is that his wine aims for premium quality, despite its name.

Kick Ass Red – a premium blend of Zinfandel and Syrah from the Parducci Winery in Mendocino, California – will fetch about US$49 retail, according to Parducci’s marketing company, Big Dog Marketing.

‘Mr. Ditka came to the winery one weekend and tasted wines from the tanks at Parducci, and was happy with what he tasted,’ Big Dog Marketing partner Jan Metler told decanter.com.

‘Some people do wonder about the wine decision – they ask, “Why not beer?” But Mike is a real wine lover,’ she added.

‘Looks can be deceiving,’ Ditka told the Chicago Sun-Times. ‘I’ve drunk red wine my whole life. There’s no wine ever made that I didn’t try.’

Wine retailers seem bemused. ‘He has a passion for drinking, certainly,’ remarked Charles Stanfield of Sam’s Wine and Spirits, a top Chicago-based wine store.

‘I think you have to look at this with both eyes open, and a wink,’ Stanfield told decanter.com. ‘I am a Chicago Bears fan, but I would have to taste the wine before buying it. Still, it would sell itself if we brought it into the store. Marilyn Merlot sells, so why not Kick Ass Red?

Ditka’s wine line will also include Merlot, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon made at the Parducci Winery, which is part of the Mendocino Wine Company.

Written by Panos Kakaviatos