How I got the name

Montepulciano Per Sbaglio

Montepulciano Per Sbaglio

So the long story is this:

On the night before my brother, my son and I were to drive up to Fess Parker Winery in Santa Ynez Valley, I had a little accident with my fermenting Montepulciano.

I was fermenting the wine in a 20-gallon plastic fermenter and I was using a cap-submersion rig comprised of a stainless steel wire mesh, weighed down by some bricks (which I put in Ziploc bags – to prevent anything untoward leeching into the wine).

To monitor the temperature of the ferment, I inserted a floating thermometer into the cap, in between the wires of the mesh. This would allow me to pop into the basement, pull out the thermometer and quickly know the current temperature of the must.

A great, efficient plan – I thought.

Unfortunately, the ferment got so vigorous that it capsized the cap and the submersion rig. In the process, one of the bricks fell on the floating thermometer and shattered the outer casing – releasing all the tiny metal beads that kept it upright in the must.

When I saw this, I panicked – not knowing the metal used to make those little beads. So, while my brother and son snored away, I racked the wine off the cap and pressed off as much of the still-sweet must from the skins. This allowed me to separate the beads from the wine.

The wine resumed fermenting quite soon, but the limited skin contact affected its color and body. Presumably, separating the wine from the pulp may have reduced available sugar – making the wine less alcoholic.

After the wine finished primary fermentation, I started to think what I would call it. I wanted to come up with something witty – a Grahm’ism like “Old Telegram” or “Icebox Wine”.

The name had to refer to how the wine came about and have an “authentic” ring to it.

Initially, I wanted to call it “Il Piccolo Incidente”:”my little accident”. But soon I found out that one should not rely too heavily on Google Translate. Jeremy Parzen was kind enough to brainstorm with me and we arrived at “Piccolo Errore”. More semantically correct, but just didn’t have that whimsical feel of “Il Piccolo Incidente” (incidente is more appropriate in referring to a traffic collision, than what happened to my Montepulciano).

A week later, I was judging at the Riverside International Wine Competition. At lunch, I sat with Darrell Corti, who with his Montblanc, filled my pocket notebook with several pages of ideas and turns of phrase.

While I was thanking him and just as I was about to put away the notebook and head back to the afternoon’s judging, Mr. Corti had an afterthought and quite decidedly announced: “This is what you should call it”, writing at the bottom of the page:

Per Sbaglio

Per Sbaglio

Click here to hear the pronunciation.

The beads? The folks at the Home Wine, Beer and Cheesemaking Shop told me the beads are made of brass…



Father, husband, physician, amateur guitarist, wine lover, wine writer, wine grower and wine maker trying to do it all within eye shot of downtown Los Angeles.
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