Yao Ming skips class for wine

Updated: 2011-11-30 17:45

By Liu Shanshan (chinadaily.com.cn)

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Yao Ming skips class for wine

Yao Ming auctions his wine during a charity auction held by Special Olympics East Asia in Shanghai, Nov 27, 2011. The wine was sold for 150,000 yuan ($23,499). [Photo/Xinhua]

Yao Ming will miss a day at university this week for one of the many launch events scheduled for his own branded wine.

"I'll need an extra bottle for my history professor so he can give me a good grade and let me skip his class," the former NBA star, who is attending classes at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, joked during an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

The retired basketball big man has ventured into business by setting up his own winery - Yao Family Wines - and released the inaugural "Yao Ming Wine" made from cabernet sauvignon grapes harvested in 2009 from California's Napa Valley.

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Yao Ming skips class for wine

The first 5,000 cases of "Yao Ming Wine" will only be sold in the Chinese mainland market at a price of 1,775 yuan ($278) a bottle (The price includes a 27 percent import duty and a 17 percent sales tax). The price is so close to that of a 375ml bottle of 53-degree Flying Moutai, a star product of China's high-end liquor Moutai, with a price of 1,980 yuan ($310).

A second batch of wine, named Yao Family Reserve, will be released later this year, and its small 500-case production will be even pricier, according to the WSJ.

"I believe that wine can bring people together and make our lives more enjoyable," Yao Ming was quoted as saying.

But the incumbent wine boss also said he didn't begin to appreciate wine until he was enrolled to NBA and spent time with teammate Dikembe Mutombo, a Congolese player.

"Basketball gave me the opportunity to live in the United States and discover many wonderful things in America. Now I look forward to bringing great wines from California back to the Chinese people," said Yao.

The WSJ also revealed Yao Family Wines currently doesn't own any vineyards in California, but is aiming to acquire land in the next few years.

Aside from the new wine companies, Yao Ming is the owner of the Shanghai Sharks basketball club where he began his professional basketball career and the Yao Restaurant &Bar, a Chinese restaurant in Houston. He is also an investor in a digital-music site called Top100.cn, said the report.