by Fred McMillin
for December 6, 1999
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
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.
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.
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
To learn all about it, see the Dec. 15, 1997 WineDay
titled, "Brioso Ain't So-So".
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
Contact—Sandy Flanders, (707) 963-3104, FAX (707) 963-2381
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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