What started as the most unusual heckling strategy in the history of Little League, has become a Cinderella story…
Big Claw White Wine is basically the story of two guys from Maine in the wine business that started talking during Little League Baseball games when one guy (Steve) was coaching the other guy’s (Tim’s) twin 11-year-old sons. Instead of the usual heckling that parents do to dedicated Little League coaches, Tim, a Maine wine wholesaler, began heckling Steve (a winemaker) about making a wine that goes perfectly with lobster. Steve ignored Tim through much of the season and threatened to bench both his sons if he didn’t stop the harassment, but Tim persisted.
Finally, Steve said, “Okay, I’ll do it” and Big Claw was born. In February of 2010 a group of wine professionals from Maine (sommeliers, wine buyers, a stray wine writer or two, a couple of “in the know” bartenders from a leading lobster restaurant and other wine lovers) gathered and tasted 8 different blends of various white varietals, as well as single varietals, that Steve had assembled. Accompanied by 6 pounds of cracked and shelled lobster and drawn, melted butter, the group tasted the wine, ate lobster (okay, I know YOU want to be invited next year!) and scored which wine went best with this great Maine delicacy.
I’ve been involved in someway in the wine business since 1976 and I know that getting three people to agree on which wine is the best is almost a statistical impossibility. Never happens. Well, until that February day where EVERY SINGLE PERSON agreed that one wine went the BEST with lobster, hands down…..unreal. I will say that some tasters had problems with that, saying things like “Well I like this other wine better on its own, but….” But what? But there was only one wine at the tasting that could be called the BEST with lobster.
So, we made it. The label is from an original watercolor by Tim’s mom, a well-known artist who basically went out and bought a few lobsters, cooked them, and then painted the claws and then ate the lobster. My good friend and super designer David Puelle and his team at Puelle Designs in Yarmouth, Maine did the final label design.
As both Tim and I disliked the idea of profiting off of Maine’s best loved resource without giving something back, we teamed up with the Lobster Institute, a private, non-profit operating out of the University of Maine in Orono and the “go-to guys” for all the lobster industry and fishermen from Canada to NY and we struck a long-term donation program for Big Claw wine and the Lobster Institute.
– Steve Melchiskey winemaker
The Big Claw Mobile
Last year Maine car dealer Carl Brousseau scoured the back roads and barns of Maine for a 1970s era car that could proudly carry the message of Big Claw wine wherever it went. He found this gem in a remote, backwoods town. It had been garaged and driven only in the summers by the original owner. Total mileage: 51,243.
It purrs like a snoring lion, accelerates like a gazelle, has to be steered like a ship, and it fits 4 people across the rear seat with breathing room. No cup holders, automatic windows, air conditioning, or warning sounds available.
If you see us driving around, give a wave and maybe we’ll toss you a Big Claw corkscrew.
Steve Melchiskey began his love of lobster from a tiny town in Central New York where his parents would, once a year, buy lobsters for a special treat. They were expensive, and his family wasn’t rich, so they would buy only two lobsters and then give young Steve the small “lobster legs” and tell him they were “the best part of the lobster”. To this day he still savors sucking the last bits of sweet lobster meat from each small leg. Steve has had a long love affair with the world of wine, as winemaker, grapegrower, importer, retailer, and judge at international wine competitions. Making wine that goes perfectly with lobster has been a passion of his over the last 7 years as is his dedication to supporting the lobster industry in a sustainable and positive way.
Tim began to learn about wine in High School while working in a high end French Restaurant on Long Island, New York. His thirst for beer began while he attended Colby College and traveled to Canada to seek out different beers. After graduating from Colby, Tim spent his time as an insurance executive and then he and his wife purchased some retail franchises located in The Maine Mall. Eventually he owned and operated a retail beverage store in Portland which he sold to start Mariner Beverages. Tim and Michelle enjoy raising their twin boys (age 17), Lil’ Chief, entertaining, cooking, skiing, and of course, boating, which is where the name comes from.
At our restaurant we are always asked to recommend a wine to go with Maine’s signature dish. When I tasted Big Claw, I knew it was a winner.”