But these are not normal times. The oddness of our current political landscape - both outside and inside the Beltway - means it is next to impossible to keep politics separate from wine. Add the fact that our current president bought a Virginia winery that is now run by his family, and the climate is right to smash the two together and see what happens. That's what we decided to do recently with the support of Vanessa Moore of UnWined Virginia and her great staff of wine lovers.
|The full line-up once the wines were revealed. Like the election itself, Trump scored much better with the whites then with the blends|
It was my hope that there would be a significant variance in scores once the wines were revealed. I envisioned the Democrats and left-leaning individuals spitting out the Trump wines once they knew what they were drinking while the president's supporters would embrace them.
|Our esteemed panel discussing the wines|
That, however, did not happen. Almost universally, the tasters scored the wines blind and exposed similarly, speaking to the general strengths and weaknesses of all the wines - including Trump's. The tasters, regardless of party affiliation, found the Trump sparkling wine "impressive," "enjoyable," "complex," and were, "impressed by it." The Trump red, meanwhile, was seen as, "cheap," "bland," "confused," and "made cheaply to taste expensive and failing."
|Vanessa Moore, standing at right, describing one of the wines|
The Trump sparkling wine actually came out as the preferred sparkling wine. It was tasted alongside Schramsberg, one of the most well-respected sparkling producers in California and Canard-Duchene, an authentic French Champagne.
|The sparkling line-up. Trump was a crowd favorite.|
|The red line-up. The Trump red's approval rating was slightly lower than the President's.|
The panel of tasters included both professionals including sommeliers, people who worked in wine stores, distributors, and enthusiasts comprised of casual wine drinkers, aficionados and those who wanted to see how the tasting played out. Of the tasters, slightly more were Democrats than Republicans, and none of the Republicans were supporters of President Trump. Several asked not to be included in photos or videos because they were federal employees or didn't want to be seen as either supporting or opposing the president.
Despite the variance in personalities, professional backgrounds and wine knowledge, the tasting was very civil and even topics of politics were addressed respectfully. Not to draw universal conclusions from an event featuring only a dozen or so people, but it was at least affirming to know that Democrats and Republicans could share the same room and some wine without anybody needing to be rushed to the hospital.
Being the son of liberal Democrats and being married to a traditional Republican (who is ardently not a Trump supporter), the Roman axiom not to mix politics and wine will continue to be enforced during the holidays, but it was refreshing to see what happened during this tasting.