by Fred McMillin
for February 15, 1999
Happy Birthday, Galileo!
"Wine is sunlight, held together by water."
...Galileo Galilei, born Feb. 15, 1564 in Pisa, Italy
The Rest of the Story
The opinion of a genius on any topic is always of
interest. and genius he was. He startled the world
by announcing that contrary to sacred belief,
"the moon is not smooth, but rough and full of
cavities, like the earth." Contrary to Aristotle,
he showed that a one pound weight falls as fast
as a ten pound weight. He invented the thermometer.
At age 20 he discovered the laws of the pendulum.
Imagine what would have happened to enology had
he taken a serious interest in wine.
Two centuries before Galileo's birth, there
appeared northeast of Pisa a red wine grape called
Barberi and Barbero. Today it is the most widely-
planted red-wine grape in Italy. We call it Barbera.
Winemaster Jancis Robinson says it has "thoroughbred
potential," but to achieve that you must not hurry
the ripening. In California, Lee Sobon knows that, too.
His 1996 Barbera was harvested not in September,
but on October 15th.
And so tonight, our birthday toast to
Galileo will be made with...
1996 100% Barbera, Amador County
California Shenandoah Vineyards
Alcohol Content—A typical Amador County 14.1%.
Production—If you've ever visited the charming
winery, you won't be suprised that only 620
hand-tooled cases were made.
Contact—Shirley Sobon, (209) 245-4455
Food Affinities—Nice, medium-intensity red
to complement, not overwhelm pork, smoked turkey, lamb
and your take-home sausage pizza.
Regarding Galileo being born in 1564, birth and
death notices that year included a few other
people of remarkable stature. Died in 1564: Michelangelo;
born in 1564: William Shakespeare.
About the Writer
Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history
for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine
courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College.
In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred
with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded
to American wine writers.
More articles by
Welcome to WineDay, the electronic
Gourmet Guide's daily update. Monday through Thursday,
WineDay presents a wine profile. Then on Fridays we present
the Winery of the Week to take you through the weekend.
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A Central Coast Toast
Feb. 1st—Happy New Year?