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

California Shenandoah Vineyards  
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...

The Wine

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.
Price—$15 range


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.


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.


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Saint James Never Fails

Cloud-Nine Valentine

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A Grander Alexander

Winery of the Week
Ficklin Plays to Win

Meet Monsieur Omo

Always a Winner

A Central Coast Toast

Feb. 1st—Happy New Year?


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