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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Latest Obama Effect: makes wine people pee themselves

Expectations for the new President were so high during the election that he made fun of them himself: "Contrary to the rumours you have heard, I was not born in a manger," Obama said at a NY fund-raiser. "I was actually born on Krypton and sent here by my father, Jor-el, to save the planet Earth." Dunno about you, but I laughed my head off at that.

I'd like to laugh at things like this, but I can only shake my head. It's a Bill Daley story in the Chicago Tribune, "Wine suggestions for President Obama." It's full of wine folks uttering spine-tingly stuff like this:

"Mr. Obama will be a champion of wine and bring new insight to the White House," predicted Mark L. Esterman, wine buyer for Meijer, the supermarket/department store chain. He thinks Obama will present a "wine-centric image" that will go over well with foreign guests coming from areas where wine is a major part of their culture and industry.
and this:
"They're going to be a much more wine-friendly first couple than, obviously, the Bushes," said Todd Hess of H2Vino, a Chicago distributor. Just the fact the Obamas drink wine with meals gives wine a positive boost, he said.
and, God help me, this:
"For the red, I hope Mr. Obama serves a zinfandel from either Lodi or Paso Robles. Nothing in the world screams 100 percent American-made like a heady-alcohol zinfandel, complete with spice, fruit and bold flavors which are indicative of the American spirit. In regard to wine, the message should be: 'We have arrived.' "
People, people, people. Have we all forgotten this?

(Philadelphia Inquirer, taken by Sarah J. Glover)

That's the New President, campaigning at Bethlehem Brew Works, a brewpub, and drinking a Fegley's ESB. And do you want to know what's really sad about this delusion? If you do a Google Images search on "Obama Wine", this is the first picture of the man that comes up! There are no pictures of Obama drinking wine that I've seen, and the man tried to get beer to the Inauguration and was denied by security. Like to see that happen to wine. (Is it our fault that draft beer comes in things that look like really big pipe bombs?)

Look, I know Daley had a column to write, I do too sometimes. But this kind of willing suspension of disbelief stuff really makes me wonder about the people in the wine biz. Do I think Obama is going to be "a champion of" beer, or present a beer"-centric image that will go over well with foreign guests coming from areas where" beer "is a major part of their culture and industry"? Hell, no. I don't think he's going to be drinking a lot of bourbon or rye, either. I don't think the man's going to have any impact at all on the booze biz.

To expect him to suddenly embrace wine, though, when he's given no real evidence of it at all before... that's kinda psychotic. ( I notice that Tom Wark didn't partake of the Obama WineGod Kool-Aid.) Thank God for the Binny's guy at the end of the piece who mused that Obama might start state dinners with Old Style. Nice.


Bill said...

Bill Daley's a decent writer and knows both wine and food, but admittedly doesn't get beer. But you know, beer fans don't necessarily always represent themself well in defending their beverages of choice. Here's a quick blog post he did on Bell's returning to Illinois, along with the comments.

I'm the second comment, and i tried not to sound snotty and failed... but with a couple of exceptions, the other commenters apparently thought the way to defend the beer was to attack the writer and his choice.

BTW, Victory Baltic Thunder has arrived in IL. It's good, but your description of how it tastes is better than how it actually tastes!

Lew Bryson said...

What description, Bill? All I said about the production batches was "good, solid, and wickedly drinkable." Isn't it that good? The wordier description was for the tank samples, which was, I have to admit, livelier.

And I don't think you were that far off with what you said about Daley; yeah, you sounded a little high-falutin', but I'm really tired of the "I'm just a regular guy, just give me a Bud/Coors Light/Rolling Rock/Pabst!" crap from wine writers. Get over it: you don't get beer. At least I don't try to sound ignorant about wine on purpose.

Anonymous said...

Beer, Wine, Spirits..... its all good

Anonymous said...

Also "wine centric image" that is hilarious, what is that anyway? And for that matter, what is a beer centric image? Anybody who tries to define his or her image via a drink needs help. The only way President Obama is going to affect the booz biz around here is if he declares the PLCB unconstituional.

Anonymous said...

"Beer, Wine, Spirits.... its all good." You're right, it's true, but you'd never see a respectable spirits or beer writer falling down a flight of stairs over the subject like this. I agree with's kind of embarrassing.

Can there possibly be more uncorroborated inference placed on a subject than there is here? Maybe, but it would take a lot of work to surpass this benchmark.

Hey, Mr. President, the Fegleys would like to have you stop back in Allentown to celebrate like the more average American you seem to be...and good luck in any regard, sir.

Anonymous said...

Lew, according to the February issue of Wine Enthusiast Magazine, which I just got in the mail a few days back, President Obama has a 1000 bottle home wine cellar. He's on the cover.

And you know I drink as much beer as anybody, but I also think it is cool that he (allegedly) loves wine. And Zinfandel is 100% American.

Steven said...

So, if Piece Pizza is a favorite or Mr. President, don't you think it's safe to assume the fresh-brewed beer at the establishment has found its way to the table?

And Bill, I found the BT here in IL as well and thought it was pretty delish. Beyond what I was expecting. Then again, so was the Hop Wallop...

Anonymous said...

Agreed, it is embarrassing to read something like that. There are plenty of ridiculous critics of all stripes; beer, wine and spirits, read some of the stuff that comes out on Beer Advocate equally embarrassing, over the top, and getting worse. But I admit the guy who wrote that is a real piece of work. This country has such bizarre notions about wine and how it relates to class, political affiliation and odd notions of exclusivity. I think it is even worse in 'control' states like Penna. I think geography/climate also plays a huge part. Don't believe the hype, in many parts of the world, this weird notion that wealthier/higher educated people drink wine and the masses drink beer really does not exist

Lew Bryson said...

True about the 1,000 bottle wine cellar, and the bottle of Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay sitting on the counter in the Obama family piece in People. But if you follow up on the story...I've read that the 1,000 bottle wine cellar is just that -- a cellar with a 1,000 bottle capacity -- and it was already in the house when he bought it. I also read that the significance of the counter-top wine bottle was downplayed by the Obamas, and it may have been placed there by someone in the shoot.

But it's not really about wine good/bad, beer good/bad. It's about the amazing amount of lather these guys made out of next to nothing, while completely ignoring the way the man does drink beer. Now, that may just have been him running from an elitist image his opponents (both within and outside of his own party) were trying to tag him with. But from what I've read about where he and Michelle eat in Chicago...they're not partial to either wine or beer.

And don't really matter. Just having a president that drinks is a plus against the Drys!

Anonymous said...

Here's more wine if you want:

Surprising that the White House currently stocks only around 500-600 bottles.

I certainly hope that the WH site continues to post the menus for visiting foreign dignitaries. Then we'll know just what they are drinking.

It would be a hoot to see beer on there.

Lew Bryson said...

Thanks for that link, Stan, and...good God, how much more cost-effective and American can you get than fresh, local beer? Does the White House have a tap system? If not, why the hell not?

Blinders, my friends, blinders. Though it's probably better now than it has been for decades. At least we're talking about it.

Bill said...

Lew, you don't have to post this if you feel it's mightily off-topic!

"What description, Bill? All I said about the production batches was "good, solid, and wickedly drinkable." Isn't it that good? The wordier description was for the tank samples, which was, I have to admit, livelier."

I went back to your posts and realized your excitement was for Victory's bringing back Perkuno's Hammer and working with the guy who brewed it for the defunct brewery, and your being there for part of its production... and by the time the beer was released, you didn't say much about it. I drank two bottles of it at different times. It was ok. I remember the second bottle gave me about six ounces of full-flavor-forward dark fruits, which was a joy. But for the rest of that bottle and for the first, the flavors were muted. And it was not easily drinkable -- massively filling.

It had three admittedly high standards to measure against,the first two of which are admittedly unfair: your old writings about the Hammer, my love of Sinebrychoff and Okocim, and the standards that Victory has set with their other brews. It fell short on all three for me.

Lew Bryson said...

I wouldn't say I didn't think much of it; I bought a case of it, and enjoyed it. But I did like the stuff off the tank better, hate to say, cuz it makes me sound so beer writerish!