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by Fred McMillin
The Truth About Zinfandel
This fragile old wine book existed nine years before Abraham Lincoln was elected president of the U.S.A...1851...A History and Description of Modern Wines by Cyrus Redding, London.
Thomas Jefferson was alive when this volume went on sale...1824...The History of Ancient and Modern Wines by Dr. Alexander Henderson, London.
George Washington was not yet president when the yellowed pages were printed of...Observations Historical, Critical, and Medical on the Wines of the Ancients and the Analogy between them and Modern Wines by Sir Edward Barry 1775, London
The Super Sleuth
I own those books and other old-timers thanks to my super book sleuth, Gail Unzelman. But she does much more than unearth these literary treasures. Here's an example, involving...
The History of Zinfandel
Just last week I was thumbing through my back issues of the Vinifera Wine Growers Journal. There was a review of a book on raising "The Exotic Grape-vine, under Glass, Without Artificial Heat." The editor's note points out that the 1853 volume titled The Cold Grapery by William Chorlton contains the earliest known reference to Zinfindal. Hm-m-m. This was the Summer 1981 Journal. So, I went on to the fall issue to see if there were any objections to the assertion. Sure enough. Here was...
It read in part, "Sir, I very much enjoyed the article about Chorlton's book and that it possibly is the earliest known reference to the 'Zinfindal' (sic) in the United States." Then the author explains that Historian Charles Sullivan has found many earlier references to the grape including an 1830 nursery catalogue listing of the "Black Zinfardel of Hungary." The author actually has a copy of that listing, and even an 1839 reference not mentioned by Sullivan. And who wrote this 19 years ago?.. my sleuth, Gail Unzelman!
Postcript —Win with Zin
I don't like to read a wine article without a few recommended bottles. Here are the best I've poured in recent months.
Our Super Seven Zins
7th—Simi, Dry Creek Valley, '97, $21
This page created April 2000