On Wine


For The Holidays...
Serve "Conversation Piece" Wines


by Fred McMillin


The Conversation:

Circa 3000 BC: Noah planted a Muscat vine. (See my April 2008 article The Bible's First Vintner for more.)

What should you serve?

Pour  Orange Muscat Essensia, Quady Winery, California, 2006, $20


Circa 1000 BC: India's first intoxicating drink was made from fermented honey. It was made with rice and called sura. Later, the British named fermented honey MEAD.

Pour  Raspberry Mead, Chaucer's Cellars, Bargetto Winery, California, $15.


1776: Thomas Jefferson has Italian Dolcetto vines planted in his Monticello vineyard.

Pour  Bargetto Dolcetto, Santa Cruz Mountains, 2004, $20.


1830: Bettino "Iron Baron" (connotes inflexibility) Ricasoli, a renowed Chianti vintner, lost his cool when his beautiful and much-younger wife Anna danced repeatedly with a handsome nobleman in a Florence ballroom. Furious, he rushed her out of the building into his horse-drawn carriage, and ordered his driver to go directly to the abandoned family castle far south of Florence where he told his wife of their future: She would raise babies and he would raise grapes.

Pour  Barone Ricasoli Chianti Classico (90 percent Sangiovese), $18, still produced by the Iron Baron's great-great-great-grandson. Contact: Jill Salomon at fax 732-225-0950.


Circa 1840: Sir George Simpson of the Hudson Bay Company sipped a sample of the California friars' wine made from the Misson grape. Later he wrote in his diary that "politeness alone induced me to swallow it." For a much better Mission wine...

Pour  a Mission from Amador County by Story, or from the Sobon winery.


2008: French varietals grown in Tuscany!! ...Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon...plus 13 percent lively Italian Sangiovese, all aged in French oak.

Pour  Tenuta di Arceno Prima Voce, 2003, $20. Contact: Amy Janish, Phone: 212-675-5525, Talbert Communications.


A Final Wine Smile

'Tis the season to be bubbly, which reminds me of the late Art Buchwald's words,"I like Champagne because it tastes like my foot's asleep."


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 © 2008, Fred McMillin. All rights reserved.


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