With the 2022 Summer Olympic Games underway in Tokyo we're looking for our own ways to support Team USA as well as our passion for fun and unique wines. Lucky for us, those two things came together fabulously when we got a chance to learn more about The Vice Wine. These guys are fun and experimental as well as very personal and approachable, so we are extremely excited to see what else they come up with in the future.
Right now though, we're excited to talk with winemaker and founder of The Vice Wine, Malek Amrani along with 2016 U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team Member, Joe Maloy. Joe has served as an inspiration and long time friend to Malek as pursued his passion for both wine and multisports, as a Team USA Triathlete.
This 2019 "The Tri" wine is an absolutely fantastic blend from 18% Cabernet Franc, 52% St. Laurent and 30% Malbec to celebrate Maloy’s time spent on each discipline (swim, bike, run), respectively. You can find it on The Vice Wine along with the Bubbly Rose canned wine that we featured last week.
There are a lot of athletes that have become winemakers (or decided to buy a winery). For you, which came first - being a triathlete or knowing you had a calling to become a winemaker?
Malek: While I've always wanted to compete in sports on the world's stage, later discovering Triathlon and quickly falling in love with the sport, wine is the career I chose at the age of 17. It is the calling of winemaking that allows me to be an athlete (when I'm not making wine!). I am blessed to be able to combine my two favorite vices with The Tri blend.
Joe: While I've always wanted to compete in sports on the world's stage, later discovering Triathlon and quickly falling in love with the sport, wine is the career I chose at the age of 17. It is the calling of winemaking that allows me to be an athlete (when I'm not making wine!). I am blessed to be able to combine my two favorite vices with The Tri blend.
What are some ways that your athletic training - physical and mental - has made you a better winemaker?
Malek: To be able to perform at a high level in three sports requires daily commitment to training and maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle. For me, this means early morning training sessions, midday swims and late night workouts, every day. This routine helps me tremendously to stay focused and balanced in my winemaking career. I conduct regular wine tastings and I'm consistently traveling to sell wine and hosting events, but no matter how much wine I taste throughout the day (or drink), there is a workout session before it, or after it, to counter the heavy "tastings" that I do.
What advice would you give for enjoying wine while maintaining a healthy and athletic lifestyle?
Joe: I'd advise that we not be dogmatic and classify anything as good or bad. I think healthy lifestyles should leave room for things we enjoy--otherwise "healthy" becomes an obsession, and obsessions are unsustainable. You can enjoy a glass of wine and still be a serious athlete--having one doesn't mean you can't be the other. Just make sure your decision to indulge (or over-indulge!) is a choice and not a habit.
Triathlon is a sport that a lot of guys probably know the world of, but not much else. What captured your attention about the sport?
Malek: It's a complete sport with three disciplines - swim, bike run - and it requires so much multitasking. It's hard to get bored training daily for three sports. It's also a sport where, despite how much you train, race day requires faith and luck, because an expected flat tire during a race can easily ruin an entire training season. Very similar to Triathlon, winemaking is all about multitasking, and in reality nothing is ever in our control (Mama Nature). Winemaking also requires utter hard work, faith and a bit of luck to achieve a successful vintage after a long growing season. Winemaking and triathlon training are very similar to me, they are both fun, hard, and unpredictable.
Aside from triathlon obviously, what are you most excited to see during the Tokyo Olympics?
Malek: I'm excited to see all the distance races in swimming, cycling and running. As a triathlete, I mainly learn from other athletes that have mastered one discipline, no matter the distance of their sport. What I'm actually most excited about is to watch the Paralympic events. It's sooooo humbling and inspiring to watch athletes that have added adversity in their daily lives and sport, go beyond imagination to achieve the impossible; and somehow are the ones that receive the least attention, encouragement and financial support.
Joe: This might be a cheat, but I'm very excited about watching the triathlon mixed team relay in Tokyo. It's a new event where male and female triathletes compete on the same team, and it's debuting in these games. I love the idea of an event where men and women compete together, and I'm excited to see our American foursome represent the stars and stripes! If I had to go with a totally different sport, I think I'd have to go with watching Katie Ledecky swim. She continues to improve and raise the bar--even when the only real competition she has is herself. We could all learn something from her commitment to mastery.
How did you discover your calling in Triathlon, and how did you discover your interest in wine, and did you ever expect for these two worlds to collide?
Joe: I was a collegiate swimmer and discovered my passion for triathlon after graduating from Boston College in 2008. I did my first tri 2 weeks after graduation on a borrowed bike and really had no idea what I was getting myself into. I loved the feeling of accomplishment I had after finishing, and I've been hooked ever since! To be honest, I never expected my passion for triathlon to collide with my interest in wine in such a positive way. For a long time, it felt like they were interests best kept separate. The last notable time wine and triathlon collided for me was in 2014. I was having a glass of wine the night before a big World Cup race in Cozumel, Mexico, and USA Triathlon's Performance Director saw me sitting at the bar with a full glass. He sat down next to me and said, "Well, you better race fast tomorrow or I'm blaming it on this." I achieved my first-ever World Cup podium the next day.
One of the things I already like about your brand is that you seem to be focused on fun and not being pretentious about wine. Aside from unique concepts like your Sauvignon Blanc Rose, how does this attitude come through in the wines you produce?
Malek: It starts with the name, The Vice. The Vice is as serious of a wine brand as it gets when it comes to crafting clean, authentic and luxury "consumable products". The Vice is also a celebration of wine as a vice. Vices are what makes a person unique and it should be celebrated as such; too often, if taken seriously, it can lead to negative results and harm (such insecurity, abuse, addiction...).
I believe that our commitment to excellence in our daily craft is what makes us constantly chase the fun in our daily work.
I especially enjoy your very candid discussion on your site talking about organic vs biodynamic, this is a very important topic that too many people use simply as marketing bullets vs actual transparency. What are some ways that you recommend helping to educate consumers without turning into professor wine?
Malek: I believe that the best knowledge is transferred from person to person, too often in person. For people that are interested in learning about wine, not "formula" wine; I highly suggest finding a local wine shop where wine is the staff's main vice. These wine professionals have so much passion and love for wine that they are so eager to share with people that dare to seek and ask.