February 25, 2024

Wine and Politics

Wine and Politics. Now, there’s a Tasty Nexus that goes right back to our pre-historic Solar Plexus. The earliest known example of wine production dates back 8,000 years to Georgia, in Europe. Since that was the Stone Age, we’re not sure exactly who decided to grow those grapes, but would bet it was the Chief, not the grunt of the tribe.

That sets the template. Wine has been linked to Royal (translation) Political rulers from ancient Egypt to Europe, including the Spaniards who brought wine-making to America. A direct genetic connection extends from grapes planted by the politicians of the Roman Empire to France’s Bordeaux region and thus, the wines of America.

Speaking of which, the Father of Our Country…was a Wino! George Washington was an intensely personal fan of the fullbodied Madeira wines of 18th century Portugal. Another founding father, Thomas Jefferson, not only installed a massive wine cellar beneath the White House but wrote “Good wine is a necessity of life…I double the doctor’s recommendation of a glass and a half each day and even triple it with a friend.”

Now, in modern America, the collision of wine and politics continues. Common thinking often has it that Conservatives or Republicans, tending to be older and wealthier, like more complex varietals. Democrat Liberal types, often being younger, prefer sweeter, less-expensive wines.

Of course, it’s not that simple. Everyone has a unique palate, so you find real-life complexity…when you zoom down to where wine and politics collide. Here’s why you’ll be as confused as I am, at the end of this report.

For openers, records show wine-makers give more to Democrats, while beer-makers give more to Republicans. One would be tempted to think it were the other way around. Meantime, President Nixon –whose political base was conservative Middle America – was a closet wine snob, though a smart one. His favorite bottle was a French Chateau Margaux from one of Bordeaux’s oldest wineries. Nixon always made sure that wine was poured from napkin-covered bottles so as to hide its French origins. A few years earlier, JFK, the man who beat Nixon in 1960, was much more out front with his love of things French. His First Lady, born a Bouvier, turned the White House into what was said to be “the best French restaurant in Washington.” John Kennedy maintained a private, but massive, wine cellar that
included Chateau Mouton-Rothschild, 1864, worth at least 15 thousand a bottle today! So, Nixon and Kennedy would indeed have agreed that Bordeaux rocks! Different politics, same good taste…

How about our current Prez? Barack Obama, believed to be a very light drinker, has nonetheless shown a strong affection for wine…serving Graham Beck Brut, a sparkler from South Africa at his inaugural event. Mr. Obama is also said to have his own private wine cellar back home in Chicago.

The fellow said likely to oppose Democrat Obama in the next election, Republican Mitt Romney, reportedly does not consume alcohol, as per his faith…preferring milk, or soda. But while you can’t bet on knocking one back with Romney you can knock one back in Romney –Romney, Indiana or Romney, West Virginia, both of which play host to many wine-selling establishments. And loony as that may seem,
the exact sort of name-game connection has touched the household of famed Democrats Bill and Hillary Clinton. They hired New York’s Clinton Winery (named after another Founding Father – a onetime vice-president not related to Bill Clinton) to help celebrate daughter Chelsea’s recent wedding in Rhinebeck, New York. Then, too, consider that the Washington DC International Wine and Food Festival chose its latest venue to be the Woodrow Wilson Plaza of the Ronald Reagan Building at the Trade Center in Washington. Wilson – the Epic Progressive. Reagan – the Quintessential Conservative. In Washington – named for that Madeira lover…the Father of our Country.

United…over wine….in a strange sector of the universe – not unlike our own Hidden Compound – that surely blurs the line…when it comes to politics and the fruit of the vine.

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