Hope and change: wines for Obama and the inauguration

obama_wine2After learning that the wine vote carried Obama to victory, it’s no surprise that wine writers can barely contain the corks from popping until next week.

John and Dottie dig up this vignette from the the White House Historical Association: “In 1840, the Whigs presented their candidate, William Henry Harrison, as a simple frontier Indian fighter, living in a log cabin and drinking cider, in sharp contrast to an aristocratic, Champagne-sipping Van Buren.” But then they say they don’t know what Obama will have after the inauguration.

Cue Elin McCoy. She’s got the intel on this one. And it ain’t all pretty. To the tape: “Fortunately for Barack Obama, the first wines he’ll sip as president include some pretty nice California bottlings, though one of them poses a foreign-relations test. At the inaugural congressional lunch at the Capitol, right after the swearing-in ceremony, the wines will include 2007 Duckhorn Vineyards sauvignon blanc ($30; find this wine) and 2005 Goldeneye pinot noir ($55; find this wine). Two hundred dignitaries will toast the new President with 15 magnums of Korbel Natural sparkling wine ($15; don’t find this wine). It’s labeled “California Champagne,” so better not show it to the French.” Korbel? Puh-lease. And how did Duckhorn hit a double (they also make Goldeneye; see the inaugural lunch menu at their site)?

Mike Steinberger pops off a piece on Slate bristling with his usual brio. He has his own version of financial stimulus and suggests expanding the paltry White House wine cellar, introducing mature wines as opposed to current releases, and flattering foreign dignitaries by re-introducing wines from their own lands (presumably as an aperitif). I’ll raise a Montelena to that.

What will you pop next Tuesday? UPDATE: Or, if you were in charge of the inauguration lunch, what would you pour for the 200 honored guests?

Related: “The Sorry History of Wine in the White House,” p. 54, A Year of Wine
Leaders and Liters of wine

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9 Responses to “Hope and change: wines for Obama and the inauguration”

  1. Damn those New Years resolutions that seem so rational at the time. I am a teetotaler for January.

    I am in London, but will stay up and watch the inauguration though. Drinking… water. Maybe I’ll make it sparkling water.

    What would I choose to open? A Sine Qua Non syrah with dinner, followed by a celebratory Roederer Estates bubbly.

    Happy Days!


  2. I wish they would have gone for less corporate choices. It’s not as if they’re outfitting the military with wine.

    Why not Iron Horse Blanc de Blancs or Gruet for bubbly; Ridge Monte Bello or a Ken Wright Pinot for red; and an Alban Viognier or Bonny Doon Albarino for white?

    Obviously there are lots more great choices out there!

  3. Great thoughts, Steve! I’ll update the post to see what other people would pour at the lunch if they were the head sommelier!

  4. The wine choices probably depend highly on the Obamas’ palates, but were I the somellier, I’d keep it simple, with good, affordable-to-many, American wines.

    Perhaps, Schramsberg Mirabelle for the bubbly (sorry, I can’t stand Korbel! IMO, Schramsberg is the best American bubbly that you can find on a regular basis), Bogle Phantom for a red (Bogle doing petite syrah, zin, and mouvedre, two grapes they do VERY well and a good mixer), and some good riesling for the white…. perhaps Konstantin Frank?

  5. lol, just posted something similar . Maybe the Yes we Cab! is the way to go…

  6. […] learned via Dr. Vino’s post that Duckhorn and Goldeneye are actually made by the same company. Wonder where Korbel fits […]

  7. I noticed many of the options are not extravagant in terms of pricing. I wonder if these choices have to do with the economy and Obama’s intent to lead by example regarding a celebration before his real work begins.

  8. Tyler,

    I think they should surprise everyone with a flashback to Obama’s childhood in Indonesia and serve a wine from Bali:


    Cheers, Boyce

  9. […] Which corks will pop at the lunch immediately after President Obama’s second inauguration on January 21? With Charles Schumer co-chairing the committee planning the inauguration festivities, wine enthusiasts could anticipate that New York wines would make a showing. Indeed, two appear on the menu: the 2009 dry riesling from Tierce in the Finger Lakes will accompany the lobster and Bedell Cellars’ 2009 merlot pairs with the bison. While I haven’t tried these wines, it’s refreshing to have estate wines from New York at the event instead of California wines dominating. […]


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