by Fred McMillin
for January 13, 1999


Pink Wine and Gold Cavier


Velvet, a Rose
Harvest time at AB-E-ALI vineyard. The most popular wine at the time was a pink called "Velvet".
The black limousine hurtled out of the Russian Embassy and smashed into my taxi that was taking me early to my first day of work in Teheran. The Russians scurried back into their embassy, my company driver fled down the street, and I sat there alone, watching the skin turn purple where the impact had driven my wrist watch into my forearm. Being unable to speak or read the language called Farsi, I was three hours late and totally dishevelled when I reached my new office.

At that office a few days later, my wife phoned to say one of the movers was lying on the floor in a pool of blood with a large piece of glass in his back. He had raced through the front door with a table leaf, shattering the plate-glass overhead lintel with disasterous results. He survived.

The Rest of the Story

Fred in Teheran, Russia
Fred McMillin buys very affordable caviar on way home in Teheran.
OK. The start was rugged, but the finish was marvelous. For example, when leaving the office I could purchase a large tin of perfectly-salted fresh caviar from a friendly street vendor for pocket change; (See photo.) Occasionally, he'd come up with a can of the ultimate, golden-hued sturgeon roe. Instead of the traditional vodka, the country's most popular table wine was our usual choice to accompany the delicate Beluga. Occasionally, I'd spring for the most treasured. It was called Velvet, a pink wine with more backbone than most, since it was a blend of sturdy red with a white wine. (Western winemakers do not approve.) If you want to try a rosé (roh-zay) and roe combo, the most powerful pink we've had recently is the Simi Rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Wine

'97 Rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon, California Simi Winery
Rating—This is Simi's 27th successive vintage. The New York Times long ago knighted it with the the words, "One of the great rosés (roh-zays) of the world." If you like pink wines, you MUST try this one.
Contact—Nancy Gilbert, (707) 433-6981
Food Affinities—If your palate or budget rejects the caviar experiment, serve with spicy or charbroiled entrees.
Price—$11 range

Note: For more, see the Oct. 22, 1997 WineDay article titled,"Drink Pink".


During World War II a British general obtained a shipment of caviar for his battle-weary troops. Touring the tents to hear their words of appreciation, a corporal stuck out his head and said, "Sir, this jam tastes fishy."

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.


WineDay Annex

More articles by
Fred McMillin


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.


Jack London's Birthday

Win with Chenin

Winery of the Week
How to Start a Winery

A Darlin' Marlin

A Neat Petite

California, Here I Come

Port and Stilton,
a Perfect Pair

Winery of the Week
A New Label for
a New Year

Current WineDay


1998 WineDays

1997 WineDays


Copyright © 1999—the electronic Gourmet Guide, Inc. All rights reserved.