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by Fred McMillin
for January 20, 2000

 

When the Bard Starred

Prologue

Sir Henry Guildford: Ladies, a general welcome from his grace...none here he hopes has brought with her one care abroad; he would have all as merry as, first, good company, good wine, good welcome.

[later] Ladies, you are not merry:--gentlemen, whose fault is this?

Lord Sands: The red wine first must rise in their fair cheeks, my lord; then we shall have 'em talk us to silence.

...Shakespeare, King Henry VIII, ACT I, Scene IV


The Rest of the Story

Chianti Classico

Those words were first spoken on a stage early in the 17th century. and since the Bard of Avon is our wine guide today, our wine must be from an estate that was in business when he was. It's the Italian Castello D'Albola, built in the 10th century, but converted to a villa the same century that Shakespeare penned his Henry VIII. Furthermore, I selected a red wine that the LADIES in my panel liked just as well as the men. The fairer sex gave it a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, and did their best to "talk the rest of us to silence."


Wine of the Day

1997 Chianti Classico, Italy
Producer - Castello d'Albola (where the precursor of Chianti was being fermented two centuries before Shakespeare wrote our Prologue.)
Review — Both genders on the panel gave it a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED in its price range of $12.
Winemaking—A major upgrading of equipment was made about nine years ago. The Castello now has one of the most advanced wineries in Chianti country.
Importer - Seagram Chateau & Estate Wines Co.
Contact—Joe Gargiulo, (707) 255-7667, FX (707) 255-1119
Food Affinities—Very drinkable with anything from a Big Mac to a small steak.


Postscript—The Name Game

The gastronomic scene was just about as active as the Bard's pen early in the 17th century.

Examples:
  • First beygls (BAGELS), Poland, 1610
  • First "groundnuts" (peanuts) eaten by Europeans, Jamestown, Virginia, 1608
  • First TEA arrives in Europe from the Orient, Holland 1610
  • Potatoes banned in Burgundy, since it's thought they produce leprosy, 1618
  • And last, about food fears, who in France was cooking his own meals because of worries about being poisoned? The King!

Credits:
1) James Trager's Food Chronology
2) Joe Lorentz, research

 
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

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