The Master’s Will

Red Red (and Other) Wine of the Country

I had linked, but hadn’t reproduced, the 1967 Cafe del Sol menu discussed in my last post.

Below (click for perfect resolution) is the wine section of the menu. With regard to beers, there are only four, but Coors was highly reputed at the time – and better than today I can attest from personal experience. Two Mexican imports were available, one was Carta Blanca, available in the U.S. since the 1930s. It was included in the New York Wine and Food Society’s 1940s beer and food tastings I’ve discussed earlier.

What was El Paseo Gold Rush sparkling wine? Perhaps a bulk or house sparkling, given the price and the name: El Paseo is an historic Spanish enclave in Santa Barbara, CA.

Of the foreign wines, Liebfraumilch makes a de rigeur appearance – I recall my family buying it in this period, from Deinhard IIRC. Almaden was a domestic mainstay then, is it still? Note the taste note, precise and forward-looking, indicating region of origin (Santa Clara).

Only the Sauterne strikes a clearly anachronistic note, as the sweetness would not suit service for dinner today.

“Pink” wines are back in fashion. A French one was offered, a Portugal version, and two domestics. I haven’t been able to trace the Santa Nella, surely another California label of the time.

The note on Buena Vista’s Zinfandel is again in perfect pitch – Zin did become a California classic and the pedigree described is correct to my knowledge. Buena Vista was a venerable California winery of high repute, but today is not operating I believe. But many of the other names are as strong as ever. I always liked Wente’s chardonnays with their characteristic pineapple note.

Beaulieu, speaking of pedigree, needs no introduction. And everyone knows Louis Martini. These are classics of the California vineyards and restaurants like Cafe de Sol helped make it so with their forthright support for the local.

The 19th century poem included applies just as much today as then, Mondo Vino notwithstanding. The only modification needed is to substitute irrigation (often) for rain.

The legend “Cocktails” perhaps was meant ironically as none are mentioned, although the word might have meant the main types were available. But withal, this menu looked resolutely to the future of bibulous refreshment in America.

It is in striking contrast certainly to countless menus of the day, from tony restaurants and wine and food clubs, which featured wines of France and Germany, and sometimes Italy and Spain, to the exclusion of what was made in their own back yard.

Cafe del Sol struck no such pretensions. It introduced more gingerly the Mexican dishes hinted at in the building design and the menu graphics, but got there finally. The television news story linked in the italicized note in my post yesterday made it clear that in latter days the menu was fully Mexican, at least that was my conclusion.

Note re image: the image above was sourced from, and appears courtesy of, www.nypl.org at the page linked in the text. All intellectual property therein belongs solely to the lawful owner or authorized users, as applicable. Image is used for educational and historical purposes. All feedback welcomed.

 

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