On Wine  

Warm Up for the Holidaze


by Fred McMillin


Let's start thinking about putting extra pizzaz in the meals and gifts coming up.

First, at the end of the feast—


All Sorts of Ports

"I heartily recommend California ports."
The University Wine Course by Dr. Marian Baldy

Golden State ports are made from various varietals including Zinfandel, Barbera, and imported native Portuguese varieties. Here are five fine producers, in alphabetical order.

  • Ballentine—Zinfandel port
  • Deaver—It's Barbera was stunning.
  • Quady—"Starboard Port"
  • Shenandoah Vineyards—Have native Portuguese vines. Try their WHITE port.
  • Story—Made from the first grape to produce wine in California, the MISSION.

So, at the end of the meal I serve one of these with a blue-veined cheese on a plain water cracker—OR—I ladle three tablespoons on French vanilla ice cream accompanied with crisp butter cookies. Why not try both to learn your preference?


The Joy of Booking

Here is a fine read for wine lovers. Corks & Forks: Thirty Years of Wine and Food, by Robert Finigan, $23

Corks and Forks
Click to buy Corks & Forks

One of Robert's Corks on ROBERT MONDAVI, mid-1960s—

"I was curious about the construction of the first major winery in Napa since Prohibition. While walking the site, I ran into Bob who was doing the same thing. He couldn't have been more gracious, interested in my interest, though at that point I had yet to write a word about wine. Right away he began to expound on the kinds of wine he intended to make, often using the words 'finesse' and 'innovation.' He felt too many of the Napa Cabernets lacked finesse, and the alcohol and tannin levels were way too high on these 'monsters' being made to impress critics and wine tasting groups."

One of Robert's Forks on JULIA CHILD—

"Julia, as she insisted from the outset that I call her, had invited me to dinner. Paul Child, ever dapper and witty, was making drinks as I think most of us were wondering where Julia was. Just then she burst through the kitchen door, bearing a huge pan with an especially ugly fish. 'This is a cusk!' she exclaimed. 'What do you think you do with a cusk?' Everyone thought, if she didn't know, none of us was going to be much help. An hour later we sat down to the most delicious fleshy white fish."

And a Final Wine Smile

China's new middle class is starting to learn about fine wine. For example, the New York Times says 12 bottles of Chateau Lafite Rothschild at $200 each were delivered to a group of businessmen dining in Shanghai. They opened the bottles, poured the wine into 12 pitchers, tossed in watermelon slices and then mixed it with Sprite!


Fred McMillin

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He was voted one of the U.S.A's 22 Best wine writers by the Academy of Wine Communications. For information about the wine courses he teaches every month at San Francisco City College (Fort Mason Division), please fax him at (415) 567-4468.


Copyright © 2007, Fred McMillin. All rights reserved.


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This page created November 2007

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