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At summit, Bush says cheers – with wine?!?

bush wine toast

We know international summits are tough. They’ve been known to make a teetotaler go weak in the neck as recently as, oh, last year.

Now we have this photographic intel that the Teetotaler-in-Chief raised a glass with President Yushchenko in Kiev last week! The Dr. Vino cam only has this one angle, but it looks distinctly like the fruits of the vine that he his holding in the glass behind his goobery hand. My guess is that it beats fermented yak milk!

UPDATE: thanks to a comment from reader Mark, please feel free to “CAPTION THIS PHOTO!”

Teenagers, NYC wine bars, Sarkozy, diseased mitochondria – sipped and spit

SIPPED: discussion!
Eric Asimov of the NYT had a thoughtful article in Wednesday’s paper about exposing teenagers to wine in the home. It’s great to see a constructive discussion (325 comments long!) on his blog about fostering wine enjoyment in the home rather than the usual discussion of excesses. Related: we’ve discussed kids at wineries and how appropriate is the drinking age of 21 here. [NYT]

SIPPED and SPIT: NYC wine bars
Closing tonight is Divine Wine Bar East. Zagat reports they have having the Mother of All Happy Hours tonight to liquidate (ha) the inventory. Opening: Bowery Wine Company and the new wine lounge at Le Cirque. See the action on the NYC wine bar map!

SIPPED: The audacity of nope
French President Sarkozy, a self-proclaimed teetotaler (although see here and here for evidence to the contrary), has the nerve to ask to see the wine list at Windsor Palace before a state dinner. [Times of India]

SIPPED: resveratrol
“Researchers at the University of Rochester have shown for the first time that resveratrol, a natural antioxidant found in grape skins and red wine, helps to destroy cancerous pancreatic cells by crippling the diseased cells’ mitochondria, the minute organelles found in the majority of living cells which provide them with energy.” []

Image: fair-use is made of a reduced size crop of an image that appeared in the NYT attributed to Lisa Adams.

Entertainer-in-Chief: Part II, Schramsberg at the White House

Schramsberg is an iconic American sparkling wine and it’s no surprise that it as been poured at the White House over 100 times. Last week, I caught up with Hugh Davies on the phone to ask him about the experiences for this second installment of our two-part mini-series, Entertainer-in-Chief. Two instances stood out to me of serving Schramsberg at state events.

Hugh, 42, told me that in 1972, his dad, Jack, got word from the Nixon White House that they would need 13 cases of Schramsberg 1969 blanc de blanc. And those cases had to be delivered to Travis Air Force Base. Hugh said that it was all a bit mysterious but his dad loaded up the cases into his jeep, drove them over to the Base where he got paid and left the wine.

Then three weeks later, images of Nixon’s historic trip to China were broadcast back to the US. And there was good old Nixon raising a glass of Schramsberg with Premier Zhou En Lai in a “toast to peace.” Hugh said that Barbara Walters reported from Tiananmen Square that Nixon and Zhou had just toasted with the Schramsberg “blank de blank.” Thirteen cases must have kept the whole delegation happy!

In what would be a bookend to state dinners and Schramsberg during Hugh’s mom’s lifetime, the Schramsberg brut rose 2004 was served at the state dinner with Queen Elizabeth II in Washington last year. The Teetoaler-in-Chief did not call and there was no drop-off at an AFB. Instead, the head usher just ordered it through the local distributor and Hugh didn’t even know it was being served.

Image credit, click through for more photos from the historic trip including this one, no doubt after the 13 cases of Schramsberg.

Entertainer-in-Chief: Part I, Thomas Jefferson

thj.gifWith President’s Day soon upon us in this election year, it’s time for the first installment of Entertainer-in-Chief!

…the urbane Thomas Jefferson, who occupied the residence from 1801 through 1809. Jefferson moved swiftly to grace the President’s House with all the trappings of the leader of a great new country, including stocking it with fine wines from around the world. Jefferson’s Williamsburg education and worldly ways imbued him with a predisposition for the pleasures of the palate, and his extensive travels throughout France and Italy in the 1780s made him a student of wine.

When he ascended to the presidency, Jefferson had wine vaults constructed below the east colonnade to house his sizable collection. (The area is no longer used for that purpose.) He is said to have spent more than $11,000 on wine during his two terms as president, a sum that in today’s economy would equal roughly $175,000.

Jefferson was a gracious host, regularly dipping into his private collection to entertain foreign dignitaries, as well as his colleagues and opponents, in high style. In Jefferson’s day, presidents didn’t have expense accounts, but rather were expected to run the household from their own salary. Indeed, it is said that Jefferson was generous to a fault, entertaining so lavishly that financial problems would follow him to his grave. [Wine News]

Wow, what a gent. And what an exemplary, overstretched American consumer! Good thing home equity loans hadn’t been invented or he might have set off his own mortgage crisis at Monticello.

Red, white and blue wine: a wine lover’s guide to the presidential primaries

With the Iowa caucuses (finally!) happening tonight, we need a wine lover’s guide to the presidential election.

Mitt Romney: According to the NYT, he is so “vigilant about nutrition” (read: boring!) that he eats the same meals every day. Anathema to the wine lover! Added bonus: teetotaler. No love from wine geeks.

Mike Huckabee: He’s reputedly a charmer, plays guitar, knows (or knew) how to eat, and jogs every morning. But he’s also a southern Baptist minister, so he doesn’t dance and is a teetotaler. So close, yet so far. Wine pick: “Fre,” a de-alcoholized wine.

giuliani.jpgRudy Giuliani: Rudy used to like Long Island merlot but 9/11 changed everything. Now he’ll drink whatever is local, as long as it is American.

John McCain: He used to be more of a loose cannon eight years ago. Now, the fire in the belly appears as mere embers. His wine is a 10 year old Turley Zinfandel, fiery in it’s youth, now sadly without vigor.

obamaclinton.jpgBarack Obama: This man has got style. Heck, one commentator even said he was the “wine track” candidate some time back. So he’s our man for the White House. He’s also quite a blend himself, born in Hawaii to a mother from Kansas and a father from Kenya and lived early on in Indonesia. This eloquent American blend could be none other than one of the finest wines in America, with structure and spice: Ridge Monte Bello.

Hillary Rodham Clinton: We know Hillary hearts New York but is she cold as ice? Wine pick: Standing Stone, Vidal, ice wine 2005, Finger Lakes.

John Edwards: he’s made it far on his “two Americas” theme. We know what that means–beer America and wine America. We’ll split the difference and put him down for a Franzia box wine.

The wild cards

goldbottle.jpgRon Paul: this guy may be crazy–he wants to eliminate the IRS, the Federal Reserve and a host of government departments and restore the gold standard–but if he is, then he is rich and crazy thanks to his $19 million in fund raising last quarter. Wine pick: Armand de Birgnac, Ace of Spades, “gold bottle,” non-vintage Champagne $300.

Fred Thompson: This Tennessean seems like a natural fit for Bourbon. No love from wine geeks.

kucinichwife.jpgDennis Kucinich: Given his hhhhot young wife (born 1977), he clearly likes youthful reds. We’ll put him down for a California Pinot, most recent vintage available.

Christopher Dodd: His move to Iowa in a desperate attempt to score fourth place makes him seem pandering. And nothing tries harder to be a crowd-pleaser yet fails to inspire more than Merlot.

Bill Richardson: He’s big and he claims to have the most foreign policy experience. Wine pick: the brawny 2004 Numanthia from Spain.

Related: “Bush-Kerry 2004: an election guide for wine lovers

Reclusive Dear Leader still saying cheers!


This just in from the Pyonyang bureau: Kim Jong-Il says cheers with wine!

The despotic ruler of North Korea was known for his lavish lifestyle. However, UN sanctions, enacted last year, aimed right at his silky soft underbelly banning trade in crystal, silk scarves, designer fountain pens, furs, leather luggage, jet skis, and Harley-Davidsons.

Now the Financial Times reports that the Dear Leader “has given up cognac so that his liver can last a few more years.” And with a $1 million a year budget for ‘yak, that is quite a lot of Louis XIII not consumed.

Given Kim’s apparent deteriorating health, would he and President Roh Moo-hyun raises glasses of wine to toast the summit? As the picture picture above shows, he’s still enjoying red wine in big glasses!

And just in case you were wondering what to pair with blueberry wine, here’s a quick take on the summit menu:

The South Korean delegation was served with a variety of North Korean food specialties, including boiled beef, stewed ribs, carp stew and trout soup.

Pyongyang’s famous blueberry wine and Ryongsung beer was served during the dinner, and watermelon and roasted chestnuts were saved for dessert.

The drying of French politicians

I stopped by Willi’s Wine Bar, in operation in the 1st arrondissement since 1980, today for lunch. Afterward I fell into conversation with Mark Williamson a.k.a. Willi. He was lamenting the decline of enjoying wine in the political class in France–as evidenced first and foremost by President Sarkozy. He told me in exasperation that a former prime minister was in for lunch yesterday and he didn’t even order wine. Wow. Lunch and no wine, OK, perhaps. But in a wine bar?!?

Mark has a once-a-month sort of blog. Since it’s nearly impossible to find, I’ll post a link here to a recent rant about Sarkozy and a brief overview of the likes and dislikes of other French pols, past and present. My favorite vignette: the last of the hard core Socialist prime minsters, Pierre Mauroy, polished off the official PM’s cellar within a week back in 1981.

President Sarkozy at the G8

We know that President Nicolas Sarkozy doesn’t drink alcohol because he said he is “too busy” (even if we caught him having a glass of Sancerre on the campaign trail). Even Reuters has a story lamenting the fact.

So what are we to make of this video then of a press conference immediately after Sarkozy had a meeting with President Vladimir Putin, also a teetotaler? As the newsreader mentions in his lead, “apparently they only drank water together.”


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