Lightning goaltender Dan Ellis is getting into wine enough that he has a wine refrigerator in his kitchen at home in Omaha, Neb. He even has a wine cellar being excavated in his basement. For all that, though, Ellis, signed as a free agent after three seasons with the Predators, said he is a wine novice. He is much more eclectic when it comes to music, and said he has more than 3,000 songs on his home computer and iPod, though given the potential for violent storms on the American plains, a night of good wine and good tunes is never guaranteed.
Have you ever lived through a tornado?
We had a pretty big storm two summers ago. It wasn't officially a tornado, but the winds picked up so much our house lost power for three days and we had a branch about the diameter of a basketball go through the roof into the kitchen. There was large hail. My car got pretty much totaled. So, that's the closest to something I've been in. You hear the (tornado warning) sirens all through the summer. It's probably like hurricanes down here. It's something you get used to and climatize yourself to.
So, what on your iPod would surprise me?
I've got Milli Vanilli. I've got MC Hammer. I've got New Kids on the Block, so I've got all the not-so-cool bands. But I've got all the Nickelback, Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw. I have a very wide variety. I have all the classic rock stuff, too — Bruce Springsteen, Def Leppard — so I've got pretty much everything I've heard of and not too much I don't like.
For a music buff, how was living in Nashville?
The thing there was the live music. You go to any restaurant downtown, they have one band or two bands in the restaurant. There's tons of restaurants, so you take your pick.
Have you found anything similar here?
I was just out at the Channelside area the other day and there was a guy playing acoustic music out there, so I just sat down to listen for a while. He plays every Sunday night, so I might go watch more often.
Do you play an instrument?
No, no. My mom bought me a guitar, but I'm not very good.
How did you get into wine?
When I got to the NHL, and when you're around a group of guys who make decent cash, they enjoy some of the nicer things, and wine and cigars, those are just the things you see in that financial bracket. So you want to get to know it so if you do go out with someone, you have a little bit of understanding. You want to expand your knowledge of it.
Ever take any tasting classes?
No. My agent, Mike Liut, knows a lot about wine, and every time I meet up with him for dinner, he always explains all sorts of things to me. I have a couple of friends back home in Omaha who have big wine collections, so you try to learn as much as you can.
So what have you learned?
I still don't know much about it. I'm more a cabernet and shiraz kind of guy.