This wine lover can be a softy

Meeting Tiger Woods was cool the first time, until he mistook Ronde Barber for twin Tiki the next time. And onlya worldly Barber brother could pronounce the word sommelier.

By STEPHEN F. HOLDER, Times Staff Writer
Published January 6, 2008

True or false: You're a softy for your two little girls at home.

I have a tendency to be a softy, although I do carry the brunt of the authority in the household. I'm usually the one laying down the law. It comes from my mom. I'm the bad cop. I always joke with Claudia his wife that when my mom comes down, I say, "You know what? They need some Geraldine Barber right now." I figure, I came out all right. Right?


Agreed. Did they do pretty well at Christmastime?

Oh, they get spoiled to no end, by us, but even more so by friends. I don't know what it is, but when you have friends who are somewhat (famous), they feel like they have to give your kids huge gifts. I'm like, "Man, they're 4." I think we had about 50 boxes of stuff delivered to our door. Literally 50 boxes. I don't know how my wife keeps it organized.


How many suits do you have in your closet?

Let me see. I'd say about 40 suits, maybe another 20 blazers.


That's it? I thought you were going to say something ridiculous.

No. You're thinking about Tiki. I'm not like my brother. That's like his uniform. He's in a suit every day. He's got a lot. He goes through them a lot. He'll get new stuff to replace the old stuff. So, he'll wear it two or three times and then give it away and get new stuff. I still have suits from '99.


When was the last time you cried and why?

I'm a sensitive guy. I can cry from watching TV, like this ABC show, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, watching somebody get a new house. I guess the last time I cried was definitely from watching a movie. It doesn't happen regularly. I'm mostly a steely guy. I'm not overly sensitive, but I guess I have a soft spot.


Tell me your guilty pleasure.

I have lots of pleasures, but I don't really feel any guilt over them. I do have a soft spot for red wine, if that's a guilty pleasure. I drink a lot of that. I like the stuff on the lighter side because they're easier to drink. Something like a pinot or a zinfandel - a real zin, not a white zin. I'm kind of getting into cabernets, too.


Are you a closet connoisseur?

No. Not at all. Though my brother-in-law is going to school to become a sommelier.


A what?

A wine expert. We know a whole lot about wine through him.


Who's one person you would be in awe of if you had the chance to meet?

I don't know. I met Tiger Woods, and it was like, "Oh, cool. That was Tiger. Wow." But now I've met him three or four times, and it's no big deal - even though he thought I was Tiki the second time. I've met presidents and all that. I guess nobody.

What about this: Is there an athlete, past or present, you would pay money to watch?

Well, I did pay money to watch Michael Jordan when he was up in Chicago. But other than him, I would probably say Jesse Owens, somebody who revolutionized something. He was in track and field, and I was a track guy growing up, so I have some appreciation for that. I would love to have been at the Berlin Olympics. That would have been a great ticket. I would have paid top dollar for that.


My weekly query: What Web site do you visit most?

CNN.com, so I know what's going on in the world. That's my home page. It's just nice to know. I have friends who work on Capitol Hill, and, obviously, Tiki's in the know about everything. So, it's nice to be able to be in the conversation. You really start to realize how big the world is.

I'm sure everyone asks how you and Tiki are alike, but how are you most different?

We're very different overall. In fact, if you met us, you would say, "I can't believe you guys are twins." The more you get to know Tiki and I as a pair, you'll even start to say, "Y'all don't even look alike," because our personalities are so different. Tiki's outgoing, and he's not shy. But I think I have a more lively personality.


You have a favorite offseason getaway?

Yes. I love London. That's an every-year deal for us now in the spring. Other than that, our favorite spots are in the Caribbean. As soon as the season's over, the next week we'll be somewhere in the islands. We've been to all of them. I've been to St. Maarten a bunch of times, Barbados, Antigua, Dominican Republic - I had my 30th birthday there.


Lastly, what's mostly on your iPod?

A lot of Lenny Kravitz. I'm kind of eclectic, I guess. I'll listen to anything. I have this group I've been introduced to called Elevaters. It's different for sure.


Never heard of 'em.

I'm going to make you go look them up. The one thing I don't listen to much is country, though. At least not that much, unlike my wife. She listens to country, like, exclusively.



Come on, man. She's from Kansas.


Stephen F. Holder can be reached at (813) 226-3377 or sholder@sptimes.com.

Fast facts

Ronde Barber

Position: Cornerback

Height, weight: 5-10,184 pounds

College: Virginia; finished career with 15 interceptions, third most in school history; named first-team All-ACC three times.

Pro: Third-round pick of Tampa Bay in 1997; franchise leader in career interceptions with 33; only cornerback in NFL history to record 20 sacks and 20 interceptions; has 87 tackles and two interceptions in 2007.