“Wine and the White House: A History” by Frederick J. Ryan Jr., published by The White House Historical Association, is a sumptuous exploration of the relationship between wine, diplomacy, and presidential history and packed with historical insights and anecdotes. With its beautiful photographs, illustrations, and sketches, it might serve as a coffee table book and could easily be the weightiest volume on your table, with more than 450 large glossy pages. Much is written about Thomas Jefferson, the “first wine aficionado.” A chapter is dedicated to state dinner menus — one dating back to 1939 when the Roosevelts hosted a dinner for King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. One chapter offers the poignant and funny toasts presidents have made, such as “This has become an eating place for artists, but they never ask us out,” likely said in jest, by John F. Kennedy to President Charles De Gaulle at a May 11, 1962, dinner. The pages are peppered with quotes, such as “A magnum of Claret is the perfect size for two gentlemen to share over lunch — especially if one isn’t drinking,” once declared Winston Churchill. “I’m like an old wine, well preserved but they don’t bring me out too much,” said Rose Kennedy on her 100th birthday. The book has gained 12 national and international awards since it came out in 2020. Now, a second edition has just been released and includes a chapter on Joe Biden and wine in official events, along with another on Château Margaux, renowned for its ties to presidents. “This new edition of ‘Wine and The White House’ allowed us to bring the book up to date and include entertaining during the presidency of Joe Biden,” says Ryan in an email, the former publisher and CEO of The Washington Post, as well as other roles. His expertise also stems from his experience as former President Reagan’s chief of staff, and his studies of history, wine, and winemaking. “The wines, carefully selected and served, have become much more than a pleasant drink to sip with meals. They play an important role in White House hospitality, the nation’s diplomacy, and America’s history.” $65. Available at shop.whitehousehistory.org and other booksellers.
ANN TRIEGER KURLAND
Ann Trieger Kurland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.