Americans and Wine

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photoAmerican founding father Thomas Jefferson knew a lot about music, architecture, revolution, slaves, philosophy, governing, and wine.

Jefferson was far and away the young nation's wine-lover-in-chief. He advised sober George Washington on what to drink, kept fabulous wine cellars when the country was still the province of hard cider and whiskey; braved pirates and hurricanes to see his favorites across the high seas; roamed the vineyards of France until he knew them like home.

Today, Americans like never before have made wine part of their lives and culture. But Jefferson may still be our first, best guide.

This hour On Point: we pull a few corks, bring in the experts, and track the American taste in wine, from Thomas Jefferson to 2006.These are the wines Tom Ashbrook and Jack Beatty sampled on today's show:

1. M. Sorrel (Les Rocoules, HERMITAGE, France, 1995)

This is a wine that Thomas Jefferson enjoyed. He called it "the first wine of the world without a single exception."2. Firesteed (PINOT NOIR, Oregon, 2004)

Andrea Robinson's guide describes this wine as having a taste of "delicious cranberry and dried cherry fruit, a nice kick of acid, and a great price made it easy to love."

This is the red grape from France's Burgundy region where it's thought to have been grown for more than 2,000 years. France is the largest grower of Pinot Noir grapes, but they've become extremely popular in the US too, where they are grown in California, Oregon and Washington.3. Catena (MALBEC, Argentina, 2004).

Malbec is a red-wine grape grown in France, Argentina and Chile, less so in Australia and the United States. It's often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot.

Wine Spectator described this wine as having, "great aromas of crushed blueberry and raspberry, with a juicy texture and well integrated toast and mineral notes. Nice blast of pure fruit on the finish."Quotes from the show:
Tom (tasting wine): Oh, wow... mmm... there's a lot... Jack, is that even banana in there, Jack?
Jack: There's a heck of a lot in there. If the other one was lingerie for the tongue, this one is like shaking hands with a Gaucho. It's got a little something to it.


Andrea Robinson, Master Sommelier and dean of wine studies at the French Culinary Institute in New York. She is the author of "Great WIne Made Simple" and "Andrea Robinson's 2007 Wine Buying Guide for Everyone." She also hosts "Pairings with Andrea" and "Simply WIne" on the Fine Living Network

John Hailman, author of "Thomas Jefferson On Wine." He is a former wine columnist for the Washington Post and has judged international wine competition for over 20 years.

This program aired on December 14, 2006.


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