by Fred McMillin
for April 8, 1999


Lorenzo The Magnificent

Born April 8, 1449
Died April 9, 1492


Lorenzo de' Medici almost died in 1478, not 1492. Worshipping in a cathedral with his younger, 25-year-old brother, Giuliano, jealous conspirators lept on the two. Giuliano was killed. Lorenzo escaped...

...Euginio Pucci, The Medici, Glory of the World

The Rest of the Story

The leader of the Republic of Florence went on to become the most important Medici of the Italian Renaissance. While better known for his political achievements, his interests included gastronomy. Waverley Root tells us that the first cooking academy since Roman times was established in Florence. It was called the Company of the Cauldron; each member had to create a new dish for every meeting. Lorenzo composed songs honoring the pastry chefs and olive oil makers.

As for wine, many palaces had a small window on the ground floor where the public could purchase wine. Sales were mostly of still wine, "but a contemporary writer reports the serving of a sparkling wine at a banquet," a rare event. (This is long before Dom Perignon developed sparkling Champagne in France.) Now what do we eat with our sparkling wine toast tonight to Lorenzo?


Near Florence, we found sheep among the vines.

Food in Florence

The early occupants of Tuscany were the Etruscans, who ate only a morning and an evening meal. Renaissance Florentines did the same. A favorite was fegatelli, a thin pancake stuffed with chopped liver. An inexpensive, popular Italian bubbly to sip with it would be Martini and Rossi Asti. However, we covered that in "Luigi's Legacy", Nov. 7, 1997 WineDay. So, instead we'll pop open an American sparkler from the state of Michigan that scored well in my latest tasting.

The Wine

NV Brut Sparkler by L. Mawby
Appellation—Leelanau Peninsula, Cremant Vineyard, Michigan
Phone -(616) 271-3522
Panel's Comments—Nice fruit, dry, soft bready style rather than severe yeast.
Rating—Recommended in its price range
Price—$17 range


Back to Lorenzo..."who opened his house to many artists." One started his career there, and "was indeed treated almost as a son." You've heard of him. His name was Michelangelo! (E. Pucci)

Important Credit: The Food of Italy, Waverley Root, Atheneum, 1971

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.


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