Presidential Wines: Uncorking at the White House

whitehouseI can’t remember a United States Presidency like the one we have now. And that observation has nothing to do with politics.

It’s about visibility. I believe I have seen more of President Donald Trump in the little more than a year he has been in office than I did of President Reagan during the eight years he lived in the White House. It probably has to do with the 24/7 news cycle and the fact that there are three major cable networks competing for the eyeballs of news junkies.

The one thing we haven’t heard much about is President Trump’s wine-serving preferences. He himself reportedly does not imbibe, but according to the website Do It Better, the White House has stocked up on Italian reds for uncorking when hosting guests at the White House.

That revelation got me to thinking about other Presidents and their wine preferences. So I went digging through my archives and came up with the following…

* At least from the perspective of making the information public, Lyndon Johnson was the first President to place an emphasis on American wines at White House functions.

* Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan were both Republicans, and their taste in wine was similar, too. Nixon preferred French wines (the 1957 Chateau Lafite Rothschild was said to be his favorite), while Reagan was said to be unable to resist any good French wine. However, when he served as the Governor of California, Reagan was a strong supporter (and frequent consumer) of that state’s wines.

* Among the documents archived at the Jimmy Carter Library is a list of the menus for various state dinners held during Carter’s administration. I would have loved to have been there on January 24, 1980, when Prime Minister Francesco Cossiga of Italy was served a meal that included Robert Mondavi Johannisberg Riesling, Simi Cabernet Sauvignon and Hans Kornell Extra Dry sparkling wine, followed by a concert featuring country music star Tom T. Hall, who concluded his set with the song, “Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine.”

* It’s fairly well known that Thomas Jefferson planted grapevines — European varieties — at his Monticello home. What’s not so well known is that he did not live to see them produce wine-worthy grapes.

* Records show that during one six-month stretch, from September 1775 to March 1776, George Washington spent more than $6,000 on adult beverages, mostly Madeira wine.

* We do not know whether it had anything to do with the state of the economy at the time, but during his Presidency, Barack Obama once served guests Duckhorn Sauvignon Blanc, which at the time was priced at $11 per bottle.

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