On this Christmas eve we thought we would celebrate some of the famous and powerful people throughout history who loved wine. In addition to being a wonderful accompaniment to Christmas festivities, wine has historically been a symbol of culture and a social lubricant, not to mention a killer of bacteria. We explore just a few of the most fascinating famous stories of the oenologically enamored below.
Winston Churchill: The famous British Prime Minister is said to have consumed 42,000 bottles of Champagne (which we hope you are enjoying tonight) in his lifetime. That’s more than a bottle a day from birth until one is 115 years old, so maybe the story is a tiny bit exaggerated. During World War II, Churchill bolstered the troops with this remark, “Remember, gentlemen, it's not just France we are fighting for, it's Champagne!" His sparkler of choice was Pol Roger, and after his death the Champagne house created a prestige cuvée named after him.
Plato: The Classical Greek philosopher spoke many times about the vices of drunkenness, but he also extolled the virtues of wine, stating that drinking wine may lead to “produce virtue.” Wine was, in fact, a large part of many philosophical discussions held by the Greeks (and many others since).
Thomas Jefferson: The 3rd American president was introduced to wine through fortified wines like Port and Sherry, but after a trip to France in 1784, he fell in love with the lighter wines of Bordeaux and Burgundy, and collected them the rest of his life. He built an impressive cellar while in the White House, as well as at Monticello, his home in Virginia. He spent much of his life struggling to grow European grape varieties--Vitis vinifera--at Monticello, and also experimented with native grape varieties belonging to the species Vitis labrusca.
Queen Victoria: The British queen was a fan of Tokaji, Hungary’s luscious dessert wine. Emperor Franz Josef sent her a birthday gift each year of one bottle of Tokaji Aszu for each month she had lived. On her 81st birthday, her last, she received 972 bottles of this liquid gold!
Have another historical figure who enjoyed wine? Share it below.
Merry Christmas from Team Bottlenotes!
Photo Credit: Bordeaux