Obama Serves Hollande “CHEAP” U.S. Wine

This title is quoted verbatim from the “The Drinks Business” online magazine as one of the Top Ten Most Important Wine Stories of 2014… see the whole article here:


Trade Periodicals Trashing Their Own Industry?

What is wrong with a periodical that would publish a piece like this?  This is the attitude that validates the snobby reputation holding the wine industry back here in the U.S.  The beer or spirits industries would never generate a piece like this…


Your Reaction

How did you react when you read this? Personally, I started steaming out the ears…  Does wine have to be expensive to be good?  UGH, no of course not!  The wines selected by the White House were fine.  Did they need to serve Harlan Estate, Cayuse, or Bond at $200-$500/btl. to show a representative selection of U.S. wines?  If The Drinks Business had done some background research, they would have found the winemakers at these wineries all to be ex-pats from France who have been successful in America.  That is the more important message here.  Obama hit the nail right on the head.  While I may not agree with all of Obama’s politics, he does seem to demonstrate an excellent grasp of how to build a message.

Someone Had to Refute this Piece

There should have been more outrage from the industry regarding this.  Please join me in sending an email to this periodical and expressing your displeasure with this kind of reporting.  You can send an email to:  info@thedrinksbusiness.com.

This piece not only missed the entire intent of the Obama staff and why they chose these wines, but also violated the most basic tenet of our industry:  there is excellent value in wines all over the world!  I am so tired of the high-brow approach to wine prices.  The wine world does not revolve around premium wines from Bordeaux, France and Napa, CA only!

U.K. versus U.S.

I hope The Drinks Business does not reflect wine attitudes in the U.K.  Wine should be accessible.  This is especially good advice for European wine producers who want to capture more of the U.S. market.  Without much exposure to the wine industry in Europe, others will have to comment on the culture there, but I can assure you in the U.S.  –  even the most ardent collectors are mostly down-to-earth people who enjoy a relaxed wine atmosphere, without the hype.


Filed under Wine Critics, Wine Education, Wine Industry

7 responses to “Obama Serves Hollande “CHEAP” U.S. Wine

  1. Chaim, you make some great points, but my piece was trying to point out two primary ideas:
    1. How could this event be included in a top ten list of wine events for 2014?
    2. The supposed outrage directed at the idea of choosing less expensive wines for this event is ridiculous!

    There are so many different palates and so much good reasonably priced wine in the world… Suggesting the White House served wine characterized as “cheap”, is completely absurd. Could this wine list have been better? In my opinion – most likely yes, but these wines were not “cheap”.


    • Chaim Helfgott

      Your point is well taken.The question however is have they written the article in a ” vacuum” , just off the left field, or was that just a recap of something that had been perceived as an act of serving cheap wine relative to what is common served at those events?.


  2. Thanks for the comment Chaim.
    I like the choices, based on the idea that all three winemakers were trained in France and have become successful in the U.S. Also, my post was more about WHY “The Drinks Business” online magazine would choose this topic for their 2014 Top Ten List… but since you ask, I can share what I know. I like the Morlet selection. I have not tasted that particular vintage, but the overall quality in the past has been very good. The Chester-Kidder is good, but I can think of other WA reds I would have selected at a similar price point. The Virginia sparkling wine selected is not on my radar, but has had decent reviews. Although, as you probably know, Blanc de Blancs can pair fabulously with food. Which takes us all the way back to what is most important… how did these wines pair with the food served? I am not really in a position to render an opinion on that.


    • Chaim Helfgott

      I would not chose wine based on the place of the winemakers training.., there are a few awfully made wines by french trained winemakers.My overall impression is that had you been in the position you too would not have selected those wines for the presidential dinner.If I am accurate then how can you say that “The wines selected by the White House were fine”.
      By the way, why should they have not shown off with a Harlan Estate to surprise the French how good American wines can really be?


      • Chaim, you are thinking like a Sommelier… nothing wrong with that, but these wine choices were as much political, as they were quality based. Regarding your other point with the Harlan Estate… I will ask you a question, why don’t more dignitaries serve 2000 Petrus? Excess is out of style and in poor taste these days in the U.S. Let’s save that kind of crazy spending for the rich and wine investors. Personally, I don’t want my taxes spent that way.


      • Chaim Helfgott

        The French still do not appreciate American culture in general and food culture in particular.Opening a good Napa valley wine can get their noses down.Serving a Petrus does not achieve anything as everyone takes it for granted that Petrus is good,Why would an American President want to serve a Petrus when he has such a wide choice of really good American wines or why to chose some obscure mediocre wines just to show to a French President that there are French trained winemakers in the States.
        It can be argued which would have been the best approach to that meal but I frankly do not understand your reaction to the article.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Chaim Helfgott

    Now that you have released all that steam, I would be pleased to have your opinion as to the quality of those wines,