White House stops revealing wines for state dinners

14th March, 2012 by Lucy Shaw

The White House has refused to make public the wines that will be served tonight at the state dinner hosted by President Obama for UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

Barack Obama

For Obama’s first three state dinners, honoring the leaders of India, Mexico and China, the White House released the name, year and appellation of the wines, all of which were American, paired with each course.

Disclosing wines served at state dinners is a tradition observed by previous presidents, including George W. Bush.

This tradition came to an end after Obama’s dinner last year for Chinese President Hu Jintao.

One of the wines served was a 2005 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley from Washington state that originally sold for US$115 a bottle, but went for $300-350 by the time of the dinner after receiving a perfect 100-point score from Robert Parker.

After the dinner, Quilceda Creek’s profile in Asia got a “pretty significant” boost, according to the general manager.

The price the White House paid per bottle was not made public.

At the next state dinner, on June 7, 2011, for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the menu made public by the White House did not include details of the wines.

“An American wine will be paired with each course,” stated a note at the bottom of the menu released by the White House.

Wine writer Tyler Colman said in an interview that the shift in menu protocol may reflect political considerations given the sluggish US economy.

“They’re probably sensitive to displays of wealth at a time when the economy is not firing on all cylinders,” he said.

Though keeping the wine list private undercuts promotion of US winemakers.

“A state dinner isn’t a picnic or casual get-together, it’s justifiable from diplomatic and trade standpoints for the White House to spend money to showcase fine American wines,” Colman added.

White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest refused to answer questions about the shift in practice.

Wine has been regularly served at the residence since 1800, except from 1877-1881 under President Rutherford B. Hayes.

In the 20th century, John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon were known for their familiarity with French wine. The policy of serving American wine took hold in Lyndon Johnson’s administration.

Having your wine served at a state dinner can lead to a huge boost in sales.

Kerry Murphy of DuMOL Wines in Orinda, California, saw sales of his 2008 Russian River Chardonnay quadruple in China after it was served at the Hu Jintao dinner last year.

“It makes me feel good because we’ve got some dollars coming back to the US from China,” he said.

2 Responses to “White House stops revealing wines for state dinners”

  1. The Sediment Blog says:

    Just so you know, Downing Street’s standards aren’t all that high – here’s what you get when invited for drinks at No 10:
    http://sedimentblog.blogspot.com/2011/02/drinking-wine-with-prime-minister-at-10.html

  2. Duvel says:

    Mrs. Reagan took Kendall-Jackson from a couple of thousand cases made a year to millions a year when she served their Chardonnay in the mid 80s.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please note that comments are subject to our posting guidelines in accordance with the Defamation Act 2013. Posts containing swear words, discrimination, offensive language and libellous or defamatory comments will not be approved.

Subscribe to our newsletters

2 x Buying Assistants

Berry Bros. & Rudd
Battersea and Basingstoke, UK

Temporary Christmas Sales Support - Wines & Spirits

Harrods
Knighsbridge, London, UK

Head of Wholesale

Hispamerchants Ltd
London, UK

Sales Manager

Hispamerchants Ltd
London, UK

National Sales Manager

Maverick Drinks
Field based, UK

Regional Sales Executive

EWGA
Gloucestershire, UK

Senior Content Writer

Rude Wines
Ledbury, UK

Events and Trips Manager

Berkmann Wine Cellars
London, UK

The World Bulk Wine Exhibition

Amsterdam,Netherlands
20th Nov 2017

The Drinks Business Green Awards 2017

London,United Kingdom
20th Nov 2017

The Global Spirits Masters Lunch

London,United Kingdom
1st Dec 2017
Click to view more

Green Awards 2017

Deadline : 25th October 2017

The Global Riesling Masters 2017

Deadline : 30th October 2017

Click to view more

Champagne Masters 2017

The only Champagne blind tasting in the UK, the competition will reward the best wines in the following categories:

The Global Rosé Masters 2017

With wines from the palest of pink to almost ruby red, bone dry to almost cloyingly sweet, reductively handled to barrel-aged, as well as gently spritzy to fully sparkling.

Click to view more