Since Bill Clinton, who liked to eat but whose most lasting gastronomical association was with the Big Mac, and Bush, who seemed almost disdainful of good food and didn't even drink, it's been sixteen years since there's been any chief executive whose evinced that most human (and, for us, a most San Franciscan) trait of enjoying a good drink. While Obama's election broke many barriers and has yielded hope in so many ways, one of the nicest things about his presidency so far is that the guy likes to drink. And the examples keep piling up . . .
As was reported by the AP just a couple of hours ago, when asked what he loved about France, Obama's answer was: "Let's see, we have the food, we have Paris, we got the south of France, Provence, the wine."
Last week on the first couple's famous date in New York, it was reported that not only did Michelle have, not one, but two martinis and that they drank 2007 Hirsch Vineyards Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast. Hell, yeah! Not that David Hirsch and his daughter Jasmine are having too much trouble selling their excellent wine, but we'll see if that nugget gives them any sort of boost in the polls. Jasmine told me that she received a text from David Barber, the front of the house manager of Blue Hill (the restaurant the Obamas visited), telling her she would never guess who was drinking her wine. "I thought he was going to say some actor or something, which I could have cared less about," she just told me. "But when he said who it was, I thought, 'now that's interesting.'" For the record, it seems the Obamas had it as part of the wine pairing on a tasting menu.
Evidently, Obama has a 1000-bottle cellar at his home in Chicago. But while "the contents of Obama's own wine cellar remain unknown," it's was reported last that the White House cellar was not all that. As Elin McCoy wrote in that article for Bloomberg, "the White House currently has only 500 to 600 bottles stored in a temperature-controlled room near the kitchen" and that "only U.S. wines are served at all events, a policy since the Carter administration." Maybe Obama, with his just-declared affection for French wine will change that policy. After all, there are some dishes that only, say, a German Riesling a French Syrah or an Italian Sangiovese will accompany.
One thing that I bet Obama might change, though, is the length of official dinners. As McCoy wrote about such events Bush, "the eating and drinking part of glittering state dinners for 130 guests lasts only about 55 minutes, the three wines served have little time to make an impact." Since Obama's a guy who obviously likes a good meal, he probably also enjoys lingering over a good meal, maybe while swirling the dregs of that last bottle of wine.