by Fred McMillin
for December 27, 1999


Macao Knowhow



As a reward for clearing the waters of pirates, the Chinese ceded Macao to the Portuguese in 1557. The small piece of Chinese mainland became Portugal's major Asian economic outpost for 400 years. Since the colony has been returned to China this month, I must mention our introduction to Macao chow.

Chef Angelo teaching my wife

Chef Angelo teaching my wife local dishes in Macao.

The Introduction

The cannon at the top of the old Macao fort pointed toward the scowling, rod-straight border guards of Red China. It was May 17, 1972, and my wife and I could feel the tension. POW, POW, POW, POW! We ducked for cover.

It turned out to be nothing more than exploding large firecrackers. Nevertheless, totally unnerved, we scurried away to the security of deft Chef Angelo's kitchen in the Hotel Bilboa (see photo), and the promised cooking lesson.

Since there were over 30 Chinese for every one Portuguese, the colony cuisine was Chinese. Which raised the question that I'm still asked today. What wine to pour with it? Let's turn to a current expert, Willie Gluckstern. In his Wine Avenger (Simon & Shuster, $11), he recommends a Riesling. Here's one of the best my tasters have met this year.

'98 Dry Johannisberg Riesling, Napa Valley
V. Sattui Winery, White Lane, St. Helena, CA
Ph.—(707) 963-7774, FAX—(707) 963-4324
Rating—A very firm HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Price—$13 range

More about Sattui in WineDay

  • "Christopher Columbus Sipped Here", Oct. 13, 1997
  • "St. Helena Wine Cellars", Sept. 24, 1999


    Whence the name of the colony? The local Chinese had dedicated the bay to the goddess A-ma. The Bay of A-ma was 'A-ma-gao," which became Macao.
    CreditNew York Times, Oct. 24, 1982

    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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