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On this wine day in history


Famous wines in history … 2nd December

it turns out that Miles was not the first

"Seventy-five years ago, history was made in a dank squash court buried underneath the bleachers of the University of Chicago football field: On December 2, 1942, physicist Enrico Fermi and his colleagues started up the world’s “first controlled, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction.”

It was a nerve-racking day. If the reaction went off the rails, a “Suicide Squad” of three unlucky physicists was prepared to stop the reaction by dousing the uranium with an elixir of cadmium sulfate. Physicist Norman Hilberry stood in the wings holding an axe, prepared to cut a rope that held an emergency control rod.

None of the safeguards were necessary. In the end, the experiment went off without a hitch, including a break for lunch (1:30), and the day ended with everybody drinking Chianti from paper cups.

The experiment, part of the Manhattan Project, helped lead to both the nuclear power industry and the atomic bomb—although that first reaction was too weak to power even a light bulb. Samuel Allison, a physicist who helped build the reactor, wrote at the time: “All of us … knew that with the advent of the chain reaction, the world would never be the same again.”
from Quartz Obsession report


It may have read chianti on the label but I very much doubt it came from Italy* or contained any Sangiovese.

It would have been a California wine, a blend probably mostly Zinfandel.

It wasn’t so long ago I ordered chianti in an ‘Italian’ restaurant in Los Angeles and got a wine made not a dozen miles away.

*In 1942 Italy was part of the ‘Axis’, at war with the UK, US and Allies


Good point … though the head of the team was Italian (Enrico Fermi) and since they would hardly be drinking wine from the very most recent vintages, it could still have been authentic Chianti