Today lots of political peeps are sitting down to lunch with the Prez for his second Inauguration. The White House understandably makes a big deal out of the menu – and the wines served with it. This year, New York’s senior senator Chuck Schumer is the chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies and he’s crafted a menu full of NY state foods and wines – plus one big controversial sparkler!
The two still wines are the first New York wineries in history to be served at an Inauguration. New York actually has 328 licensed wineries which bring in more than $50 million, and it’s the third largest wine-producing state after Washington and California (which makes 90% of American wine).
Here’s the menu and the wine pairings:
First Course: Steamed lobster with New England clam chowder sauce, served on sauteed spinach with sweet potato hay.
Wine: Tierce 2009 Finger Lakes Dry Riesling (Finger Lakes, NY). This is a collaborative effort of Anthony Road, Fox Run and Red Newt wineries in the Finger Lakes. I’ve only had the Red Newt and love their Circle Label Riesling, but Finger Lakes Rieslings are really getting better and better. Huge deal that they’ll be serving one at the White House.
Main Course: Hickory grilled bison with wild huckleberry reduction, strawberry preserve and red cabbage, red potato horseradish cake, baby golden beets and green beans and butternut squash purée.
Wine: Bedell Cellars 2009 Merlot (Long Island, NY). I love the guys at Bedell and have featured their wines in lots of my posts and magazine articles. Merlot is one of the red grapes that does well on Long Island (though I prefer the Cab Francs from there). Bedell is inviting people to watch the Inauguration at the winery, where they’ll be serving complimentary inaugural-themed food and of course their Merlot.
OK, so now we get to the controversial part.
Dessert: Hudson Valley apple pie with sour cream ice cream and maple caramel sauce. Aged cheeses and honeycomb will also be served, including Toma Celena and Jersey Girl Colby from Cooperstown Cheese Company (Milford, NY).
Wine: “Korbel Natural, Special Inaugural Cuvée Champagne, California”. This is where the beat-down comes in!
The Champagne Bureau says that only a bubbly from the Champagne region of France can be called champagne, and most countries comply with this. In the US, though, the law bans the term for newer sparkling wines but lets ones made before 2006 use it if their origin is spelled out in their name.
So the Champagne people were super pissed: “Under the law, the label for this wine would state ‘California Champagne.’ While we do not support this practice, it is U.S. law and we would urge the inaugural committee to follow that law and not state the sparkling wine being served is Champagne, as they did in today’s release. Champagne only comes from Champagne, France.”
White House response: “The Champagne Lobby should have a glass of their own product and relax.”
A. Ma. ZING.
Meanwhile, this Korbel has apparently been served at the past 6 inaugurations without a peep from anyone. Anyway, the White House actually did change its menu to say “California Champagne.” We are so nice.