by Fred McMillin
for August 7, 1997

A Port Report

Prologue: The letter in my mail said, "We are delighted that you are including our Tinta Port in your 'The Vine and the Sword' program for the World Affairs Council."

...signed, Jean Ficklin, President of the Winery

PS—Do you share your recipes? I would be most interested in the dessert you plan to serve with our Port.

The Rest of the Story: The program was titled "The Vine and the Sword, Wine and War from Caesar to Napoleon." We explored the role wine has played in major conquests of history. For example, Caesar promoted viticulture in Gaul to improve relationships, stabilize tribes, etc. As for Port, Wellington's army bought theirs from young George Sandeman as they drove Napoleon's forces from the Iberian Peninsula. The wines were accompanied by dishes my wife had learned at those sites in Europe.

Port and Food

The recipe President Ficklin wanted came from the Port capital of the world, Vila Nova de Gaia.

Place a thin slice of medium-sharp white cheese on a semi-sweet cracker, and top with a thin slice of solid quince marmalade.

Those powerful Port flavors complement many other flavors as well. A Ficklin favorite for a warm weather beverage is made in a blender...3 oz. Ficklin Tinta Port, 1 tspn. sugar and 1 cup vanilla ice cream, plus a little chopped ice. Blend, serve in tall glass with touch of grated nutmeg on top. After you find out how good this one is, phone Adam Sass at (510) 528-0665 or fax (510) 528-0667 for further recipes.

About The Wine

Critic John Melville: "Ficklin is the first USA winery to produce port entirely from choice Portuguese grape varieties. Ficklin Port is the finest produced in California, being unsurpassed in quality and character with a full richness of flavor, particularly the TINTA PORT." John wrote those words over 40 years ago. They still apply to today's Ficklin Tinta Port at a bargain $10.

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 and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. 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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