by Fred McMillin
for December 6, 1999


Charlie's Cheese
For Beginners, Bread, Brie and Brioso



"Tell me how to start enjoying red wine." I hear that question from beginners frequently. I tell them to include Charlie's Cheese. Here's the story.


During his life, he was called Charles the Great. Later, he became known as Charlemagne. We are told that he was a huge man, about seven feet tall, with blonde hair and a merry face. He never learned to write, but that didn't prevent him from waging 52 campaigns in western Europe, which leads us to military Charlie's Cheese.

The Cheese

Brioso by Montevina In 774 A.D., Charles was returning from an Italian conquest, and before reaching Paris, stopped near the Abbey of Meaux. The monks served him a large, flat, crusty cheese, with a very soft center. Delighted, the King placed an order for two batches to be sent to headquarters every year...Oh yes, the abbey was located on the Plateau of Brie.

The Wine

Brioso (bree-oh-so) is our beginner's red. It's made by Montevina (mont-eh-veen-yu)...light strawberry-red cherry flavors...not even a hint of the tobacco-black cherry explosion that my veterans treasure.

To learn all about it, see the Dec. 15, 1997 WineDay titled, "Brioso Ain't So-So".

To order...
Brioso by Montevina, Amador County
Your wine shop will have a recent vintage. Don't age it. Put it in the frig for 40 to 60 minutes, and then drink it, with Brie and bread. The bread should be plain...you don't want sourdough or other competing flavors...I use diagonally-sliced French bread.
Contact—Sandy Flanders, (707) 963-3104, FAX (707) 963-2381
Price—$7 range.


Sutter Home co-owner Bob Trinchero started making a fine Amador County (Sierra Foothills) Zinfandel 30 years ago. As time passed, he noticed Montevina was doing such a good job too, that in 1988 Sutter Home bought it!

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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