try to keep secret the wines served at the White House.
This is a terrible idea.
First, it's not going to work. State dinners are not top secret. Now that the right-wing media realizes Obama is sensitive about the issue, the Grudge Report and any other news site with even a modicum of journalistic chops will have the identities of each wine served before the dessert plates are cleared.
Second, and more importantly -- since the wines are going to be outed anyway -- President Obama should not be ashamed of serving some of this country's best wines at state dinners.
It's a boon to our wine industry, for one thing. Wineries all over the West Coast -- and some good ones elsewhere -- proudly display replicas of menus proving their wines were served at the White House to world leaders.
Despite being from California, President Reagan regularly served French wines at the White House: what kind of message did that send? President Clinton adjusted the message to the right one: this country's best wines are second to none.
The right-wing hate machine mocked the fact that our President served the president of China a Quilceda Creek Cabernet, which had a $115 release price, which is about what the White House paid for it. They trumpeted the fact that some resellers were charging $399.
Typical exaggeration: it took me 5 seconds to find it online for $140. But the point is, the White House paid the release price.
Is $115 a bottle too much for a wine that the President of the United States pours for the President of China?
Only in the insular world lived in by people who have never been abroad and have no understanding of other cultures.
This is China we're talking about. Brands matter. Perceptions matter. Quilceda Creek Cab got -- this is a direct quote from Bloomberg -- "a rare 100-point rating from wine critic Robert Parker." Stop laughing about the "rare" thing.
The point is, Quilceda Creek Cab is the PERFECT wine to serve to the president of China at a state dinner. I don't care if it tastes good or not. It's an established luxury brand with a track record of excellence from America's most respected independent critic. It's hard but not impossible to get. It's the right image to project.
You don't serve a nice little second-label Cab to the president of China at a state dinner. At best, it makes the Chinese think we're going broke and maybe they should start calling in our debt. At worst, it's a minor international incident, a snub that takes off in the Chinese press, that might be written about throughout the rest of Obama's presidency.
Moreover, as Bloomberg reports, the selection of Quilceda Creek at this dinner has already been noticed by China's high-end wine market, where US wineries are trying to establish a presence against Bordeaux.
President Obama, you should be proud of this country's best wines. As with so many things, people who are going to criticize you on this issue aren't voting for you anyway.
So share those wine lists. You're the President of the most powerful country in the world. One of the perks is sharing our best wines at formal state dinners. Don't apologize for it.