I like knowing which wines are served at White House dinners to the President and his guests. I'm curious and I consider it a matter of national pride.
Therefore, I found it both odd and out of character for the White House to recently announce that it would no longer disclose which wines were being poured for dignitaries. It's a terrible idea. (And what's to stop dinner guests from reporting the selections afterward, as one person recently did after attending the state dinner held for British Prime Minister David Cameron?)
Some people were apparently upset that some fancy, expensive wines have been uncorked at the White House in this era of fiscal restraint—great American wines such as Opus One, Peter Michael and Quilceda Creek. Those kinds of wines aren't poured at the White House every day, and to chastise the government for showing off the best wines that America has to offer—world-class wines—is nonsense.
Winemakers deserve to have their wines recognized when served at the White House, and we deserve to know who they are, irrespective of price or appellation. It's a matter of local and national pride for those vintners who have accomplished so much with wine in this country in the past 30 years.
It was a big deal in 1972 when the 1969 Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs was served at the "Toast to Peace" in Beijing, between President Richard Nixon and Premier Chou En-lai.
Nixon, of course, was a connoisseur of fine wine. He is said to have had himself served first-growths (with the label carefully concealed by a towel) at banquets, while his guests drank much more ordinary wines.
Ronald Reagan was also a big fan of California wine. His favorite: 1970 Beaulieu Vineyard Private Reserve, a classic Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
I was disappointed when President Bush last visited Napa Valley and didn't take a moment to visit one of the wineries, to congratulate an industry built on small mom-and-pop startups for a job well done, not to mention all the jobs it has created.
There are plenty of things to keep Top Secret, but which wines are served to the President's guests isn't one of them.