From Lafite to Lemonade, Cabernet Sauvignon to Cabernet Franc: Wine in the White House

6 Nov


There’s an interesting article on the drinking habits of presidents and our president-elect here.

(Thanks to Sarah over at First Crush for the article!)

America has a strange relationship with alcohol generally and wine specifically.  What other country could come up with the monstrosity of “near beer”?

According to Karen MacNeil, author of the fabulous Wine Bible, the American wine industry was nearly destroyed by that great experiment known as Prohibition.  Part of the reason why it took so long for American winemakers to “catch up” (if that’s even occurred yet!) to their counterparts in the Old World is that long, dry hiatus from drinking and making legal wine.

One could argue that American winemakers have done an admirable job of, in fact, “catching up.”  What is more the issue is the perception among a huge number of Americans that wine is something fancy or foreign.  Sure, wine is often used to celebrate milestones–or, in my case, Friday evenings–but wine has not as yet been incorporated into the daily lives of people in this country.  And that’s a shame because wine is so delicious.  And gets you drunk.

But then again, the American people are getting wise.  They want their cabs and now even their gruner veltliners and verdejos.  And now I can imagine if I were invited to the White House for dinner (any moment now, Mr. President-Elect) I’d be able to get a glass of something decent and not a tumbler of lemonade!


4 Responses to “From Lafite to Lemonade, Cabernet Sauvignon to Cabernet Franc: Wine in the White House”

  1. bethy1810 November 7, 2008 at 7:17 am #

    I think that a big problem with Americans adopting wine as a more everyday libation is that for so long, it was hard to get decent-but-affordable wine. While we’re seeing more of that come down the line in recent years, it’s still not like going into a grocery store in Europe where you can pick up a really good bottle for three euro. We’re too obsessed with price automatically equating quality, and with the aforementioned Franzias and Carlo Rossis of the world dominating that value category here for so long, only now are we starting to see better alternatives.

    I’m optimistic, though, that it will improve, especially as US vinters create better-quality wines at prices that can go lower than $15 a bottle.

  2. Shea November 9, 2008 at 7:17 pm #

    Speaking of good values – check out Arrocal from the 2004 vintage in Ribera del Duero. Cheap and quite fantastic.

  3. vinicultured November 10, 2008 at 8:09 am #


    It’s easier in California to find good American wines for under $15–for instance, GustavoThrace’s “The Third Bottle” (CA) or Chateau Ste. Michelle’s entry-level cabernet (WA). There’s often a significant markup of American wines–especially Californian wines–on the East Coast, I’ve found. For instance, I was fortunate enough to find Sean Thackery’s “Pleaides XVI” at the Georgetown Dean & DeLuca–for nearly double the retail price in California ($46 versus $26). Nonetheless, I think there are those great value wines–especially in the $10-$20 range–that people have been embracing for their nicer home-cooked meals.


    What a coincidence! I hosted a wine tasting on Friday and one of the guests busted open a really splendid Ribera Del Duero whose name I made sure to write down: the 2005 Arrocal. Not 2004, as in yours, but still quite good–intense, evocative of a dry river bed. =)

  4. Shea November 10, 2008 at 8:04 pm #

    Cool. Looking forward to tasting that vintage too.

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