Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.
When it comes to Presidents and wine, there’s pretty much one name floating around out there: Thomas Jefferson.
Sure, Reagan enjoyed Beaulieu Vineyards' Private Reserve Cabernet, and Nixon was a fan of first-growth Bordeaux (and, somewhat surprisingly, Riesling from the Mosel’s Bernkasteler Doctor vineyard), but Jefferson put them all to shame. He made a number of attempts to grow grapes and make wine at his Monticello estate; during the five years he served as U.S. Minister to France, he undertook at least two lengthy tours of French, Italian and German wine regions; he had wine shipped to him in the U.S. from many of Europe's greatest estates; and he built a subterranean wine cellar for himself, complete with iron-barred, fortified, double-locked door (no one was getting their greedy hands on ol' Thomas J's private stash).
So what did Jefferson drink? A lot of things: Madeira, Port, Sauternes, Bordeaux (he was particularly fond of Château Haut-Brion), Champagne, Hermitage, Rhine and Mosel Riesling, Sherry, Tuscan reds, Volnay and Montrachets from Burgundy, you name it.
In any case, here are a few wines from some of his favorite regions; drink a glass or two, then write yourself a Declaration of Independence. Always a great thing to do with a spare evening.