Given the size of the man's paws and his height relative to that of the hoop, the sight of Yao Ming shooting always made us think of a toddler dropping grapes into a plastic cup. The recently retired NBA star from Shanghai had a sweet shot, but the jury's still out on his new wine crafted from cabernet sauvignon grapes grown in California's Napa Valley.

Several days ago, Yao auctioned off a bottle of Yao Family Wines' “Yao Ming Wine” at a charity event for Special Olympics East Asia. The bottle sold for a breathtaking $23,499. The next 5,000 cases are going to be sold only in China. The cost will be lower — a mere $278 per bottle — but we're not talking Carlo Rossi here.

Apparently Yao's fledgling winery is looking to buy up some parcels of land so that it can grow grapes as well as craft wine. With a “reserve” batch of 500 cases on the way, the big man on the court seems to be angling for a presence among the vines as well.

In a league where owning a sports-themed steakhouse is practically a rite of passage for a star baller, Yao's foray into wine-making is at least a little unusual. Reportedly, former teammate Dikembe Mutumbo got him hooked on wine. For some reason, we're tickled at the thought of 14.5 feet of humanity padding into tasting rooms to graze on crackers and hoover up flights of the good stuff.

LA Weekly