Drink Like a Founder pt. 2

3-4 glasses at dinner

3-4 glasses at dinner

Jefferson’s love of wine is well documented… but his first journey to France in 1784 permanently changed his tastes.  British trade policies before the Revolution limited colonial access to French wines. Jefferson and the other Founders largely drank the stronger, heavier wines from Portugal, like Madeira.  Jefferson definitely sought something easier to drink:

“The taste of this country was artificially created by our long restraint under the English government to the strong wines of Portugal and Spain.”

Most superlatively good.

Most superlatively good.

The lighter more flavorful wines of France  appealed to his evolving palate… Jefferson’s favorites were reds from the Hermitage region of the Rhone Valley.  He described it as  “the first wine in the world without a single exception.”  World conflicts continued to affect his wine supplies and this was made known to the merchants stocking Monticello’s wine cellar:

“Disappointments in procuring supplies have at length left me without a drop of wine. I must therefore request you to send me a quarter cask of the best you have. Termo is what I would prefer; and next to that good port. besides the exorbitance of price to which Madeira has got, it is a wine which I do not drink, being entirely too powerful. wine from long habit has become an indispensable for my health, which is now suffering by it’s disuse.”

Weaning his people

Weaning his people

Jefferson wanted nothing more than to change his countrymen’s taste in wine… He had lost his taste for port and fortified wine- blended French wines were his passion and he was willing to use his political influence to convince people he was right:

” I have labored long and hard to procure the reduction of duties on the lighter wines, which is now effected to a certain degree. I have labored hard also in persuading others to use those wines. habit yields with difficulty. perhaps the late diminution of duties may have a good effect.”






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