by Fred McMillin
for September 15, 1999


Name The King


What The King's Wine Cellar Tells Us

The King preferred dry wines. The labels indicated only 15% of the wines were sweet.

The labels name the estate responsible for producing and bottling the wine.

The location of the vineyard and the name of the chief vintner were stated.

Only two of the ten chief vintners were not from the king's own country.

The 4th, 5th and 9th vintages of his reign were the best. The 5th year made up nearly one third of the inventory.

OK. Who's the King? Wine's important, so I'll guess Italy or France. There are labels, so printing had been invented. I'll guess it's French royalty of the 16th century.

Now, here are a few more clues.

  • The labels were written by hand.
  • The wine containers were not glass, but ceramic, with pointed bottoms.
  • The estate name on the label gives us the final clue. It reads "Wine of the House of Tutankhamon, Year 5."

    Yup, we're talking about King Tut's wine. Year 5 was 1344 B.C.!

    Hence, our Wine of the Day comes from a grape that probably existed in King Tut's time. Here's what Master of Wine Jancis Robinson says about it.

      "This variety is one of the most ancient plants we know. The vine perhaps was associated with the ancient Egyptians, who demonstrated such an admirable grasp of winemaking. It's the Muscat of Alexandria."

    The Wine

    Sutter Home

    1997 Moscato, California
    Sutter Home, Napa Valley
    Composition—The last time I checked the Moscato was 100% Muscat of Alexandria.
    Food Affinity—Pour over and serve with canned pears and vanilla ice cream. Crisp sugar cookies on the side add crunchy texture.
    Rating—Considering its low price tag, the Moscato is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for those of us who watch our pennies.
    Contact—Ms. Sandy Flanders (a friend of mine), (707) 963-3104, FAX (707) 963-2381.

    Credits: Analysis of King Tut's wines by Prof. Leonard H. Lesko, whom I had the pleasure of interviewing several years ago, when he led the Dept. Of Egyptology and Ancient History Graduate Studies, U. Of Cal., Berkeley.

    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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