Thomas Jefferson

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September 10, 2014 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

Memorable Wine Quotes from the Famous Drinkers Who Loved it Best

Since the earliest civilization’s roamed the earth, a hardy glug of wine has been a dependable precursor to some history’s most brilliant (and brilliantly dumb) utterances. Successful lines of immortalized grape-speak have come from the most prolific drinkers of the stuff—from Thomas Jefferson to Henny Youngman, wine has inspired an array of ideas on the subject (and it even pushed Noah to “uncover” himself when… read on.

[This article first appeared on FirstWeFeast.com/drink on August 23, 2014]

February 21, 2011 2 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

White House Wines: A Glass For The President

Thomas Jefferson bottles. Photo copywright of William Koch. Sourced from: http://drinkwhatyoulike.wordpress.com/tag/jefferson-on-wine

In 1787 President Thomas Jefferson, then Minister to France, traveled to France and northern Italy. Jefferson was on a mission of diplomacy and also had a personal obligation to fulfill. Destination: Bordeaux.

“Jefferson drank France in with guzzling intemperance,” writes Benjamin Wallace in The Billionaire’s Vinegar – a book so incredibly fascinating and thorough in its investigation into the Jefferson bottles sold at auction in 1985 that you’ll want to read it through in one sitting.

Jefferson took extensive notes on the vineyards he visited, the vintages, the climate, etc., and when it came to wine, delineated quality with five categories:

  • Sweet
  • Acid
  • Dry
  • Silky
  • Astringent

Wallace states that Jefferson’s 1787 writings were incredibly important as his inquiries and note-taking positioned him as the, “greatest wine connoisseur writing in any language at the time.” And who might be the modern day equivalent? Perhaps: Michael Broadbent, Robert Parker, Jonny Cigar, Hugh Hefner Johnson.

“Before leaving France in 1789,” writes Wallace, “Jefferson shipped Sauternes, Burgundy, and still Champagne to New York for the cellars of newly elected President George Washington. As secretary of state, Jefferson placed another large order for Washington, Madison and Monroe – on what wines to serve at state dinners. When Monroe was elected, Jefferson’s congratulatory letter spent three sentences on the election and the remainder on what wines the White House cellar should stock.”

The chapter further explains that Jefferson even lobbied for lower tariffs, “not only for selfish reasons, but ostensibly because he believed in its healthful and even moderation qualities.” Apparently he drank “three to four and a half glasses of wine a day.” And thanks to this prohibition-era chart below we know that wine strengthens, nourishes and raises cheerfulness…

Dr. Benjamin Rush’s “Moral and Physical Thermometer.” From An Inquiry into the Effects of Spirituous Liquors (Boston: Thomas & Andrews, 1790). Photo of page 15 from “From Demon to Darling: A Legal History of Wine in America” by Richard Mendelson.

And I feel I can relate to the man, for he was intent on convincing Americans “one palate at a time” to transition from the abuses of spirits (whiskey especially) to drinking the pleasant, sophisticated wines he had come to love. The famous Jefferson quote rings i’th’ear: “No nation is drunken where wine is cheap, and non sober, where the dearness of wine substitutes ardent spirits as the common beverage.”

And so, what were the Presidents drinking (thanks to Jefferson)? Nothing but the best:

  • Chateau d’Yquem
  • Mouton
  • Lafite
  • Haut-Brion
  • Latour
  • Margaux
  • Many a Burgundy and many a bottle of Champagne

So good reader, today on President’s Day, you are encouraged to strengthen your senses, nourish your blood and be cheerful, while indulging in a wine worthy of a President. I’ll be drinking the 1982 Mouton-Rothschild that’s been sitting in my imaginary-future wine cellar deep within the mountain of St. Helena, CA. Oh how lovely it will taste, I assume.

Self-Elected President-Elect,

Jonny Cigar