On the Trail with Kevin Nash
I have to admit: it's pretty cool to get a text message from my childhood hero Kevin Nash that includes a selfie of him drinking a wine I recently sent him. I've been fortunate enough to meet a number of well-known folks at K&L over the years, and still I keep in touch with a good number of them, but there's something more moving to me about my friendship with Kevin (maybe because I spent my most formative years cheering him on from my living room). After meeting at the Hollywood premier for Magic Mike XXL last year, in which Kevin reprised his role as Tarzan, I found out that the WWE Hall of Famer had a soft spot for wine—California red wine, specifically. As one of K&L's head buyers, I told him it would be my honor to send him a case of interesting and captivating California wine selections; on me, of course. Getting the chance to buy Diesel a drink? That's a priceless opportunity if you grew up a wrestling fan like I did. We've been texting and emailing about our habits ever since. Throughout the nineties, Kevin Nash was WCW and WWE's biggest star, teaming with legends like Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall, and Randy Savage to dominate the sport. Seeing that Kevin is also a pretty captivating individual, full of clever quips and witticisms about life, I thought we should expand one of our conversations into an On the Trail interview for you all to read here. It's always interesting to hear about the booze habits of interesting people, don't you think? Our dialogue is below:
David: So when I ran into you at the Magic Mike XXL party and you were pouring yourself a glass of Singani 63, our friend Steven Soderbergh’s new beverage, was that the first time you had tried it?
Kevin: No, Steven had it on the Magic Mike set in Savannah. We tried it there first.
David: He brought a whole bunch for everyone to drink?
Kevin: For anyone who wanted it. But for most of the process of making the film no one was drinking alcohol.
David: Because you were working out so often?
Kevin: Yeah, just diet-wise because we couldn’t have any empty calories.
David: So you tried the Singani after the filming began winding down?
Kevin: It was after we finished shooting the dance sequences because after that we weren’t ever without our shirts on. So we had maybe a week of shooting left when I tried it.
David: How did Steven approach you with it? Did he give you the hard sell, or did he just kind of let you form your own opinion of it? Because it’s not something most people have heard of.
Kevin: He basically gave me some general information, about how he had even come across it, what it was—that it was a product of a grape only grown at a certain altitude in Bolivia. He didn’t hype it, he just said it was something that he enjoyed. Then he poured me a glass with a couple of rocks in it and I had some.
David: And what was the verdict? Was it odd to you, or did it seem natural? I’m always very interested in the general feedback to stuff like this.
Kevin: I don’t really drink spirits, whatsoever—I’m not a Bourbon guy, or anything—so I mainly drink red wine exclusively. Occasionally I’ll have a beer, but this was one of those things that had a unique flavor. It’s a very sippable drink. It’s not something you can just chug. There are so many flavors within it. It’s very complex, and it was very enjoyable. Especially for my palate, which was pretty much all chicken and yams at that point in my training.
David: As someone who trains as hard as you and doesn’t really drink hard liquor, how did you find Singani affected your body? I know Steven really enjoys it because it leaves him fresh in the morning with few ill effects.
Kevin: That was something he talked with me about the night we first drank it, and—sure enough—the next day I woke up crystal clear.
David: You can see how that really is a selling point for a lot of people; especially those who really watch what they ingest. So you’re primarily a red wine drinker. Have you always been into the reds, or was that something that happened later in life?
Kevin: No, I’ve probably been drinking red wine continuously since about 1978. I drink a lot of Australian wines, like shiraz, which usually has a higher alcohol content. Especially from the McLaren Valley. But for me, I mostly drink reds from Napa and Sonoma.
David: Wow, how serious are you? Do you collect?
Kevin: I wouldn’t say I collect, but I’d say I consume.
David: Do you have a cellar, or do you have a storage area where you keep your backstock?
Kevin: Yeah, I’ve got a pretty good storage area going.
David: When you’re wrestling, and you’re on the road, and your body is getting beaten up every night, do you have to take a break from alcohol during those periods, or is there a balance that you can find to enjoy it responsibly?
Kevin: I’d say alcohol was more of a necessity then than it is for me now. To go out in front of twenty or thirty-thousand people and feel that electricity every night, then drive another two-hundred or so miles to the next town, you’ve eventually gotta get the landing gear down. When you finally get to the hotel you’ve gotta get to sleep because you’re going to have to go back out there again the very next evening. Because alcohol is a depressant it helps to kick the adrenaline out of you a bit, and it gives you a chance to get some rest.
David: So let’s say you’ve just finished up a show, and you’re finally at the hotel: do you then go up to your room, pop a bottle of wine, and have a few glasses before bed?
Kevin: Oh yeah. Even just the other night I did a personal appearance, then I had a two-hundred mile drive back to the hotel. When I got back to my room I sat down, turned on HBO, and opened up a bottle of wine. I ended up going to bed around 4 AM, but—you know—at least I went to bed. Which is why when we spoke earlier and you asked about a good time to call, I said, “1 PM.” (laughs). Because for my entire life I’ve been going to bed at 4 AM. So you figure: eight hours of sleep, it’s noon, then you get up, take a shower, have your coffee, and then it’s one o’ clock, which is when I start my day.
David: So you’re still on the road a lot for the WWE?
Kevin: Yeah, actually the WWE was here yesterday from 11-5 filming some stuff for the network at my house. I’m on a Legends Contract with them and I’ve got a good relationship with a lot of people in the corporation, so I do what I can do to help when they need something. Paul Levesque (Triple H) is one of the higher-ups, he’s one of my closest personal friends, and he’s married to Vince’s daughter, so I obviously I want to be a good friend.
David: That’s great that you’re so laid back about offering help. Your on-screen persona has always given off that same type of vibe. When I met you in person at the party you were incredibly nice and very relaxed. Everyone I’ve talked to seems to think you’re a very easy-going guy, to the extent that your nick name in the WWE was Big Daddy Cool. Would you say that your wrestling personality is really just an extension of who you are in your everyday life?
Kevin: Yeah, I think I’m pretty laid back by nature. I can go zero to sixty pretty quickly if someone agitates me, but it takes a lot to get me there.
David: (laughs) So what have you been drinking lately, now that the Magic Mike XXL madness has died down?
Kevin: My goal in life is to find the perfect $20 bottle of wine. That’s my quest. I’m mostly a cab/shiraz guy, but I’ll drink Bordeaux blends every now and again.
David: Would you say you drink a bottle of wine every day?
Kevin: Oh yeah. Every day. Just for health reasons.
David: Absolutely (laughs). Do you drink it with food, or is it more to hang out with after the meal?
Kevin: I usually drink water with my meal, then usually I’ll pop a bottle around nine, let it breath for a half hour, then sit down with a glass and watch TV. Last night, for example, we put on True Detective and finished a bottle of wine off in about two hours, then I watched the news and went to bed. That’s it.
David: That’s my normal day, too. It’s great to hear you say that. It makes me feel so much better about my own consumption.
Kevin: There are a lot of times where my wife and I will go out to eat, we’ll share a bottle of wine, then we’ll pop another one when we get home. My wife will often drink a bottle of wine on her own.
David: Mine, too!
Kevin: I’ll say: “That one’s yours, this one’s mine.” We’ll open them at the same time, she pours out of her bottle, I’ll pour out of mine.
David: Besides your wife, who’s your favorite person to drink with? Maybe a former wrestler you you enjoy drinking with.
Kevin: Stone Cold Steve Austin.
David: Of course. So do you guys drink wine or beer?
David: (laughs) So you guys drink everything?
Kevin: Yes, I’ll actually drink Bourbon with him. We’ve even had espresso martinis. For some reason, Steve and I run the gauntlet. At the Wrestlemania-before-last we were down in New Orleans, staying at the Waldorf-Astoria, and we had these two massive suites right next door to one another—complements of the WWE. On the room service wine list they had the Orin Swift Prisoner, which we began ordering repeatedly. When we ran into the guys later they’d say, “Hey, we haven’t seen either of you all week,” and the joke was that we’d been “held prisoner”. Every single night we’d order more and more. At one point we were each drinking two bottles a night. At 14+ percent, that’s a pretty high alcohol wine. All those Orin Swift wines are pretty high up there—the Abstract, the Saldo, etc.
David: You really know your stuff, man! That's impressive. Who’s someone you never got to meet that you might want to drink with?
Kevin: God, I would have loved to drink wine with Andre.
David: Andre the Giant.
Kevin: They said he wouldn’t even go out into the ring until he’d drunk six bottles. Six bottles—every night before he went to the ring.
David: He was French, right? So that's to be expected.
Kevin: They say the normal French man consumes something like 723ml of wine a day, which is almost a bottle. Their diet is fat-based, but for some reason they have good heart health. Well, I’m 300 pounds, they’re on average about 150, so why shouldn’t I be drinking two bottles?
David: It makes perfect sense to me.
Kevin: Some nights I do have a bottle and a half, or even two, but—you know what?—I don’t ever wake up the next morning and say, “Oh man, I drank too much.” Worst case scenario, I’m feeling a little woozy, so I slam a Powerade Zero before bed and then I’m fine.