By Charles B. Rubinstein
“If a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged,
a liberal is a conservative who’s been arrested.”
Thomas Wolfe, 1900-1938
About a month ago I met a fellow guest at the home of a friend who was having a birthday party. What piqued my interest was a story he told me during our discussion about wine. He and four other friends meet twice a year at Palm Two, a well known steak restaurant in Manhattan. The group comprises three liberals and two conservatives. Each member of the group brings a bottle of wine for all to enjoy over dinner and conversation, which is usually focused on politics. My curiosity was aroused, and I asked my new-found acquaintance if he remembered the wines and who brought each wine. He did remember some of the wines, but he could not match a wine to a guest. I wondered about a possible correlation between the wines and the preferences of conservatives and liberals. Rather than give up the thought, I decided to write a column on politics, preferences and wine.
A winery in Michigan, yes I said Michigan, produces politically inspired wines for the politics-minded American. The wine-tab page of their Web site, politicalwine.com, has a picture of George Washington and a take-off on the Declaration of Independence that reads, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all wine is not created equal, that they are endowed by the Political Winery with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Taste, Value and the pursuit of Happiness. So choose your juice.” Four wines are produced with blue labels for Democrats labeled Jack Blue for the white and Jackie O’Rouge for the red, and red labels for Republicans labeled Elie Blanc for the white and Ron Red for the red.
Unfortunately, the offerings of the Michigan winery didn’t give me a clue to the preferred wines of conservative and liberals. In the hope of getting a handle on the preferences I looked at the original six presidential candidates in the Republican debates. Mitt Romney has a moral aversion to wine as does Jon Huntsman. Newt Gingrich has had nothing to say about wine in his long career. Rick Santorum reportedly prefers beer to wine, and Ron Paul reportedly said that dope is safer than alcohol while arguing for the legalization of marijuana. Rick Perry is known to be an advocate of the wines of Texas, but I chalk that up to his position as governor rather than providing a clue to conservative wine preferences. As to President Obama’s wine preference, the wines served at White House functions are American as would be expected by his position and the location. He and Michelle Obama did have a 1,000-bottle cellar in their Hyde Park home in Chicago, but what is in it, if anything, is unknown.
In brief, there is a paucity of data on the wine preferences of conservatives and liberals. Hunch.com did gather data from millions of users on their eating preferences and broke it down by their self-described political position; conservative, liberal, middle-of-the-road. The only data on wine in the results concerned what was drunk with dinner at home. The top drink choice of both conservatives and liberals is water. Conservatives are 57 percent more likely than liberals to drink milk and 17 percent more likely to drink a soft drink or juice. Liberals are 52 percent more likely than conservatives to drink wine with dinner at home, but there were no published results on what wines.
There is so little data available one can speculate. My opinion is that wine drinkers who are conservatives would prefer Old World wines and liberals would prefer New World wines. I have little evidence to support my viewpoint. Taking the following isolated incident as being representative of a group’s preference is far from being evidence. Congressman Paul Ryan is certainly a conservative who is firmly in the fiscal austerity camp. About eight months ago he was dining in a fancy Capitol Hill restaurant, Bistro Bis, with a conservative hedge fund manager and a conservative economist. The threesome’s wine of choice that night was two bottles of 2004 Jayer-Gilles Echézeaux du Dessus Grand Cru, a Burgundy, which by the way was $350 a bottle. Supposedly, the hedge fund manager picked the wine that the three drank.
The next time you are dining don’t think about conservative and liberal wine preferences. Wine drinking is a pleasure enjoyed by many Americans regardless of wealth, position and political affiliation. That’s as it should be.
If you have questions or comments about wine write to me at The Two River Times or email me at email@example.com.
Pick of the Bunch
2009 Talbott Chardonnay Sleepy Hollow Vnyd. Santa Lucia Highlands ($30)
2009 Joseph Drouhin Chambolle Musigny Premier Cru ($70)
2005 Château Lascombes, Margaux ($90)
2009 d’Arenberg Shiraz The Stump Jump, McLaren Vale ($10)
2010 Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc Private Bin. Marlborough ($12)
2009 Dr. Loosen Blue Slate Riesling Kabinett, Mosel ($16)