Here’s a little bit of “Who Knew” fun for Presidents’ Week.
Our First President, George Washington — he was a man with simple tastes though he enjoyed serving fine foods and wines to his guests for special events.
George Washington was known for his quote “I can not tell a lie, I chopped down a cherry tree.” Baking cherry pies eventually became synonymous with celebrating George Washington’s birthday
Our Founding Father and Third President, Thomas Jefferson — traveled through France and Italy developing a love of food and wine. Jefferson seemed to be ahead of his time when it came to his preference of wine and his belief that wine was good for your health. He was known as a connoisseur of wine to Presidents Washington, Adams, Madison and Monroe.
It is noted that Thomas Jefferson was America’s first viticulturist. He encouraged the development of viticulture experimentation in Virgina. He wanted to make his own wine at his Monticello home and farm but his unsuccessful attempts at growing grapes were a result of poor climate, dying vines, and improper planting techniques.
Here is a list of Thomas Jefferson’s terms to characterize the qualities of wines which is an excerpt from an 1819 letter to Stephen Cathalan:
- “1. sweet wines, such as Frontignan & Lunel of France, Pacharetti doux of Spain, Calcavallo of Portugal, le vin du Cap&c.
- 2. acid wines, such as the Vins de Graves, du Rhin, de Hocheim&c.
- 3. dry wines, having not the least either of sweetness or of acidity in them, as Madere sec, Pacharetti sec, vin d’Oporto, &c. and the Ledanon which I call a dry wine also.
- 4,. silky wines, which are in truth a compound in their taste of the dry wine dashed with a little sweetness, barely sensible to the palate: the silky Madeira which we sometimes get here, is made so by putting a small portion of Malmsey into the dry Madeira.
- There is another quality of wine which we call rough or astringent, and you also, I believe, call it astringent, which is often found in both the dry & silky wines. There is something of this quality for example in the Ledanon, and a great deal of it in the vin d’Oporto, which is not only dry, but astringent approaching almost to bitterness.”
The wines Jefferson mentions are:
Frontignan – Frontignan is in the Languedoc region in France known for a sweet wine, Muscat de Frontignan, made solely from the Muscat grape variety.
Lunel – is a town also in the Languedoc region known for vin doux naturel wines which are lightly fortified wines made from the Muscat grapes.
Pacharetti doux of Spain & Calcavallo of Portugal – also sweet wines.
vin d’Oporto is a fortified wine from the Douro region in Portugal.
vin de Graves – a Bordeaux wine from the Graves region in France.
du Rhin – white wines from the Alsace region in France.
de Hocheim – Jefferson may have been talking about Riesling which is an acidic white wine. My research found Hochheim is the only wine growing community in the famous Rheingau region producing the famous white wine Riesling which is said to be the “King of White Wines”.