You can't miss James Harden on the court. The Philadelphia 76ers guard is known for his quick play making abilities, going hard in the paint and putting up triple doubles like it ain't no thing.

As a Raptors devotee, I sweat when James Harden is in town. As a basketball fan, I have mad respect for The Beard. So, you can imagine my excitement when I had the opportunity to ask James Harden what his favourite Toronto restaurant is, and why he wanted to start his own wine label, J-Harden Wines.

I know, I know, it seems like every celeb has an alcohol brand now, from Nick Jonas's tequila to Ryan Reynolds's Aviation Gin (hello, Ryan I am available for an interview). But J-Harden wine is legit. I even did a blind taste test of the J-Harden Cabernet Sauvignon with 12 friends, and it outranked the other reds with the highest average points for likability. You don't have to be Wine Spectator to know a good, crowd-pleasing wine when you taste one. 

The 10-time NBA All-Star is used to scoring high, so I'll stop pumping his tires now and get to the interview. 

J-Harden Wine is described as “wine with swag.” What does that mean?

James Harden: "Creating a label that has swag and stands out was important to me. I really wanted to match my personality and ensure that when J-Harden is lined up alongside other wines, it pops.

I wanted to bring excitement to the wine industry and turn some heads with a wine that you can drink anywhere — a nice dinner, at home chilling — and something that I would drink often. That was the kind of lane I was looking for... something real."

I love your passion for making quality wine more accessible — how does J-Harden Wine do that?

James Harden: "I’ve always been a big wine guy, but the industry has always felt like a bit of a closed-door environment. I wanted to make a high-quality wine that was accessible, diverse and inclusive, allowing my fans worldwide to share in my love for good wine.

J-Harden does just that. It’s a flavourful, quality wine available at an affordable price, allowing everyone to enjoy it whether you’re a wine enthusiast or new
to the wine world. I’m really proud of what we created and hope Canadians love this wine as much as I do."

What was the process like to make your own wine? 

James Harden: "The process has honestly been a dream. Right from the start, I had the chance to collaborate with the team at Accolade Wines on the taste, look and feel of the wine, ensuring everything was true to me and my personality. We tasted and blended so many wines, until we developed and landed on a final signature blend that we all fell in love with."

How would you describe the Cali cab and the Cali red?

James Harden: "I like to describe my wines as smooth, full-bodied and fruit-forward. With the Cali cab, you get delicious flavours of blackberry and cherries with hints of pepper, oak and vanilla; the Cali red is medium bodied with flavours of strawberry and cranberry."

What would you pair these wines with?

James Harden: "The Cali cab pairs incredibly well with a bourbon glazed pork chop (my personal fave), while the Cali red is great with a classic woodfired pizza or pasta dish."

What do you love most about these two wines?

James Harden: "I love everything about these wines, from the bright colours on the labels, to the rich, bold taste. I feel like they truly express me and are the perfect complement to food."

Do you have a big wine collection at home?

James Harden: "I do. I have a cellar in my Houston house stocked with a ton of J-Harden wines… among others."

Who is your dream person to have a glass of wine with?

James Harden: "My family and friends. I can’t wait to pop some bottles with them. I love to drink wine when I’m chilling with friends, or when I'm celebrating a big win!"

What's your go-to meal after a big win?

James Harden: "I’m a big fan of pan-Asian cuisine, so after a big win, I like to enjoy dishes like pan-seared miso salmon or sea bass."

Are you a good cook?

James Harden: "Fortunately, I have a personal chef who not only makes sure to meet my nutritional needs as an athlete but also makes meals that have wild flavour combinations! She keeps me on my toes for sure."

What's your pre-game ritual?

James Harden: "I don’t want to feel too heavy or sluggish before a game, so I load earlier in the day and make sure to eat plenty of protein and complex carbs. A meal with chicken breast, broccolini and sweet potato is my go-to. I also have a 'medicine ball' tea and take a nap before every game which helps me to re-set to neutral."

Where is your favourite place to eat when you're in Toronto?

James Harden: "I liked the vibe and energy at Casa Madera."

What's your favourite restaurant in Philadelphia? 

James Harden: "Steak 48. My favourite dish is the 45-day, dry-aged, bone-in ribeye. The meal is always an experience. Great food and good service."

Would you ever shave the beard?

James Harden: "No plans currently but never say never."