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Copyright © 2018
Forkmedia LLC


by Fred McMillin
for January 10, 2000



#1—Confessions of a Food Critic

When my wife and I were teaching wine and food lessons in a large city overseas, the leading English-language newspaper assigned their British-born restaurant critic to cover the sessions. We became such good friends that she made this confession. She had not published a review of her favorite restaurant (charming, creative chef, attractive clientele,) because the resulting crowds would mean she could no longer drop in any time and get a table immediately.

Ed Sbragia

Ed Sbragia made today's wine.

Now let's fast forward to the Arnold Palmer Presidio Gold Course's dining room in San Francisco today. Its creative chef is Joseph Renner and its charming manager is Luz Llano, phone (415) 561-4661, FAX (415) 561-4667. Just like that food critic, I'm not going to mention it, because we don't want to create any waiting lines. Let's just call it Cafe X.

#2—Confessions of a Wine Critic

An important wine critic confessed to me that he didn't know how to review what was America's biggest-selling wine, White Zinfandel. It lacked the aroma and flavor dimensions needed by wine writers. It simply tasted good...nothing else.

However, that makes it ideal for my panel. Their ballots have always said, "Rate the wine on how good it tastes." So, what White Zin tastes best? I checked back six months and the winner is:

Beringer White Zinfandel (tasted Sept. 25, 1999)
Vintage—Always buy the latest vintage. White Zin starts downhill after 10 to 15 months in the bottle. Don't buy a bottle that's developed an onion-skin color. It's probably lost its charm.
Beringer Contact—Office of Allison Simpson, (707) 963-7115, FAX (700) 963-1735

The Connection

What do the above two items have in cornmon? Cafe X's wine list shows but one White Zinfandel, BERINGER's. It TASTED GOOD with Chef Renner's Sautéed Sea Bass with Capers, Kalamata Olives and Roasted Yukon Gold Potatoes.


We're giving a series of wine lessons at Cafe X, including From Clumsy to Classy, The History of California Wine (in 60 bottles). For details FAX me at (415) 567-4468.

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.


This page created January 2000