Wednesday, October 8, 2014



ñ Jefferson and wine: From Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West, by Stephen E Ambrose, comes the following historical note. Jefferson took up residence in the President’s House in 1801, after his inauguration as the 3rd President of the United States.

   “Jefferson ran the place with only eleven servants (Abigail Adams had needed 30!), brought up from Monticello. There were no more powdered wigs, much less ceremony. Washington and Adams, according to Republican critics, had kept up almost a royal court. Jefferson substituted Republican simplicity - to a point. He had a French chef, and French wines he personally selected. His salary was $25,000 per year - a princely sum, but the expenses were also great. In 1801 Jefferson spent $6500 for provisions and groceries, $2700 for servants (some of whom were liveried), $500 for Lewis’s salary, and $3,000 for wine.”

ñ Dom Perignon (1638-1715), the Benedictine Abbey (at Hautvillers) cellar master who is generally credited with “inventing” the Champagne making process, was blind.

ñ Thomas Jefferson helped stock the wine cellars of the first five U.S. presidents and was very partial to fine Bordeaux and Madeira.

ñ To prevent a sparkling wine from foaming out of the glass, pour an ounce, which will settle quickly. Pouring the remainder of the serving into this starter will not foam as much.

ñ Old wine almost never turns to vinegar. It spoils by oxidation.

ñ U.S. 1998 sales of white and blush wines were 67% of total table wine sales. Red wines were 33% of sales. At Beekman’s, the best we can calculate (since we don’t track the color of wine sales from Chile, Australia or Spain or of jug wines) is that our sales of white and blush comprised only 45% of total wine sales. Reds accounted for 55%. That’s in dollars, not unit sales. American wines accounted for 47% of our wine sales vs. 53% for imported wines.

ñ In King Tut’s Egypt (around 1300 BC), the commoners drank beer and the upper class drank wine.

ñ According to local legend, the great French white Burgundy, Corton-Charlemagne, owes its existence, not to the emperor Charlemagne, but to his wife. The red wines of Corton stained his white beard so messily that she persuaded him to plant vines that would produce white wines. Charlemagne ordered white grapes to be planted. Thus: Corton-Charlemagne!

ñ When Leif Ericsson landed in North America in A.D. 1001, he was so impressed by the proliferation of grapevines that he named it Vinland.

ñ Cork was developed as a bottle closure in the late 17th century. It was only after this that bottles were lain down for aging, and the bottle shapes slowly changed from short and bulbous to tall and slender.

ñ Merlot was the “hot” varietal in 1999, but in 1949, the “darling of the California wine industry” was Muscatel!

ñ The Napa Valley crop described in 1889 newspapers as the finest of its kind grown in the U.S. was hops.

ñ When Mount Vesuvius buried Pompeii in volcanic lava in A.D. 79, it also buried more than 200 wine bars.

ñ The “top five” chateau of Bordeaux, according to the 1855 Classification, were actually only four: Lafite-Rothschild, Latour, Margaux and Haut-Brion. In the only change to that historic classification, Mouton-Rothschild was added in 1973.

ñ Grapevines cannot reproduce reliably from seed. To cultivate a particular grape variety, grafting (a plant version of cloning) is used.

ñ Wine has so many organic chemical compounds it is considered more complex than blood serum.

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