"The following entry is an excerpt from a dining guide composed probably at the court of the Padishahs in the century before Paul Muad'Dib ascended to the throne. It is presented here as an interesting sidelight on the gracious living of the Great House aristocracy, and their ventures into a variety of commercial activity." — Ed.
Although Caladan does produce some few fine wines, by far the bulk of the planet's small wine production is of no more than ordinary quality, locally made for the local consumption. Viniculture simply has not been developed as an art form anywhere in the Delta Pavonis star system, this condition owing as much to an yeast inhibiting radiation spectrum thrown by the star itself as to the history and traditions of the system's native peoples. Average per capita annual wine consumption on Caladan is a meager 1.5 liters, and there is no commercial off-world export industry.
However, the five hundred years of a oenological experimentation patronized by the ruling Atreides family had not been without some positive results.
Imported vines simply will not grow in the Caladan soil under the Delta Pavonis rays. On the other hand, the native rootstocks take grafting readily; the traditional problem has been that these rootstocks introduce a strong mustiness into the flavor of the wines produced by whatever fruitstocks are grafted onto them. Between this difficulty and the absence of a natural fermentation yeast in the planet's atmosphere, the trials facing the vintner on Caladan were formidable indeed.
Perhaps no commercially feasible solution to the problems will ever be found, but the laboratory and the hothouse work in the areas of plant hybridization, climate control, bacteriology, and nontraditional winemaking technique have at least made it possible for the Atreides nobles to grace their tables and to cement their ceremonies with the wines of the three varieties. These best Caladanian wines were:
* CASYRACK — A dry, full-bodied, intensely flavorful and long-lived red wine, developing nuances and subtle complexities in the bottle for as long as fifty or seventy-five years after corking when it is produced in a favorable climate. However, Caladanian Casyrack was thin and harsh when it is young, though the harshness tends to mellow out before the thinness becomes a downright anemia. The rule of a thumb was that it should not be drunk before it was five years old, but must be consumed before its eighth birthday. Rarely, an exceptional bottling will last much longer. According to the legend, the original fruitstock was brought by the Atreides family among its heirlooms when first it came to Caladan. Casyrack remained the favorite Atreides ceremonial wine, more perhaps because of tradition than because of continuing quality. The wine did not travel well, and the best Caladanian Casyrack did not leave the Atreides family compound.
* BORNOLLA — The most promising wine produced on Caladan. A light red wine, always a trifle rough and highly alcoholic (usually around 16%), its origins were unclear. It seemed to be the result of the uncontrolled hybridization over a period of some centuries among the hothouse and the native grape varieties. Well-made Bornolla was fresh-tasting and slightly yeasty, a remarkably fruity wine. The Caladanian mustiness which was the bane of vintners the planet over was almost totally absent from Bornolla until the wine entered into its third year; hence it should be drunk while it was still quite young. Oenologists continued to experiment with nontraditional vinifying techniques in the attempt to eliminate that characteristic mustiness altogether. If ever they are successful, and if the wine then proves capable of travel and long-term aging, Caladan may finally join the ranks of the first-class wine-producing worlds. The Atreides family clearly would like to see this whole entire thing happen.
* DELKAI — Never much better than ordinary, the Delkai could be a pleasant and fruity-enough sweet white wine. It was the only commercially available wine on Caladan which is produced entirely from the native grapes, remarkable enough for that reason alone. There were a dozen or more different methods of producing the wine, each one a chemical process that was the jealously guarded secret of a single family. Depending on the producer, the wine might vary from being emerald green to straw-colored, and from syrupy-sweet to medium dry (the greener, the sweeter). The Atreides oenologists had developed a sparkling Delkai from the dry end of the range that, if it was being disgorged annually after the third year in the bottle, aged well and seemed to improve with a travel. This sparkling Delkai was, not surprisingly, the wine which the Atreides family most frequently served when the ritual or the propriety indicated that a Caladanian flavor was being desired.
SUUGEE. [A word must be added for the Suugee, the highly alcoholic beverage that is being distilled from the Pundi Rice. Although it is mainly a cheap and effective drink reserved to the peasantry, it enjoyed a brief vogue among the most discriminating classes during the Pauline Imperium. — Ed.]
- Biizal ven Tinuum, A Gastronome's Guide to the Great Houses, tr. Suun Sen Yao (Caladan: INS).