A new president will be sworn in on January 20, 2021.
I’ve never celebrated a presidential inauguration; in fact, I’ve never really thought anything about them except it is a lot of money to spend on a ceremony for an already-elected person.
Agree or disagree with Trump, he’s gotten most of us to pay attention to our government and patriotism like never before. So in light of this new interest, I will be tuned in on the 20th and, I wanted to share what wine I’ll be using to toast to this amazing country we live in.
This type of wine has a heady pedigree: (Info taken from Kirsten Georgi, www.ArmchairSommlier.com.)
“It” is not some American hybrid wine, or a Finger Lakes ice wine made from Riesling. Those weren’t being produced in the late 1700s. Americans, like those above, who drank wine had to depend on imports from Europe that by English law were delivered exclusively by English ships and were taxed accordingly.
But there was a loophole that our wine-loving Americans figured out.
In the mid-1600s, a Portuguese princess named Catherine of Braganza was to marry Charles II, King of England. This is not a love story, however; this is a story of a pre-nuptial agreement.
Madeira, a small island off the coast of Northern Africa, was Portuguese, (and it still is today.) In the pre-nup for the 1662 marriage of Cathy and Chuck, Portugal prevented England from taxing any of the exports from any of their land holdings.
So the wine from Madeira couldn’t be taxed by the English. Enter our crafty, future Americans.
It became a mainstay of American life, especially by those who favored an independent future. Ordering Madeira at a bar became code for support for the revolution. Our forefathers and mothers loved it so much that by the end of the 1700s, they were buying between 25-30% of all the Madeira produced.
It is a wine that is produced in styles that range from dry to sweet, from traditional grapes called Sercial, Verdelho, Bual and Malvasia; in lower end versions, it is made from the local Tinta Negra Mole grape.
After making the base wine, it is fortified with grape spirit which raises the alcohol level to 17-18%. Then the wine sits exposed in the sun… for 20, 40 or even 100 years or more. It is the only wine that it is fortified, oxidized, and heated - an extremely unique combination.
Depending on which type of wine you buy, the aromas and flavors will remind you of raisins, nuts, or perhaps smoke.
Find a Madeira at your local liquor store and pour a chilled glass on January 20th.
This will be the most emotional inauguration in over 200 years. I want to be drinking something that fills my veins with the same wine that helped inspire the birth of our amazing country.
Kirsten Fox is headmistress of our alma mater. After surviving a plane crash, two divorces, a child with cancer and her own cancer, she finds that wine and a sense of humor can buoy even the darkest of times. Her first question is always, "What wine would I pair with this?..." Grab a glass and laugh with Kirsten.