Wine and fudge at the White House

There was a lot of fuss this week about wines to be served at the White House state dinner for Prime Minister David Cameron. There’s been a blackout imposed on wine lists at official functions since President Obama was teased by right-wing bloggers for serving Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon, which was selling for more than £300 a bottle. The realities were, (1.) the wine had been selling for just over $100 until the news got out that it was to be served at the White House, and (2.) the White House always buys the wine at the wholesale price. Still, as so often and unfortunately, someone at the White House caved in. Thanks to Eric Levine, founder of CellarTracker, who posted the menu, we now know that wines served included Thibaut-Janisson Brut sparkling wine (from Virginia), Peter Michael Chardonnay (often served when Brits come over, as Sir Peter is British), Leonetti Cabernet Sauvignon, and Iron Horse, another sparkler, with dessert. Levine deservedly took credit for the leak, so I assume there won’t be a mole hunt.
       But, still. . . a blackout on what is, after all, legitimate news? Is this an election-year sop to evangelical Tea Party types? The President has a habit of being non-confrontational, but this, really, is chickenfeed. And of course the chatter around the affair is illuminating. Some people decry the American-wine-only policy as provincial (would Sarkozy serve Sonoma Zinfandel?); others complain about the state of the cellar, which amounts to 500 or so bottles, but that’s been the case for years. State dinners are political theater, and the wines served are part of the performance, chosen for the occasion (many years ago, when Queen Elizabeth came to Washington, the White House social secretary discovered she liked “German wines.” At least, that’s what I at Wine Institute was told, and I sent a list of California Rieslings; one was served, and she was happy. That’s how it goes.)
          As for the current flap, I’m suddenly nostalgic. Jimmy Carter –who was very open to wine--would have explained to the puritanical pygmies that wine’s an agricultural product; Ronald Reagan would have dismissed it with a quip; and Bill Clinton would have told them off, probably at length. I can’t see anyone on the top level of politics at the moment capable of doing anything like that any more.

1 comment:

One Of The Bunch said...

Hi Brian,

If this is something of a repeat, please forgive me. Had a problem typing my way past the robot filter word game in the first attempt.

We just returned from ten days in Ireland.

Best meal by far was at Heron's Cove Restaurant in Goleen, County Cork.

Food as good as any anywhere sez I. Wine cellar is delightful.

(full disclosure: my great grandmother was born in Goleen in 1862)


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