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Obama urged to change White House wine policy

Online magazine Slate.com has slammed the White House wine policy – and urged President Obama to act swifty to redress the ‘shocking’ situation.

Describing the need for change as ‘shockingly clear’, Slate journalist Mike Steinberger said the White House’s current stock of 500 bottles was ‘a pathetic example of how America’s infrastructure has been allowed to deteriorate’.

Steinberger was commenting on an interview given by White House ‘usher’ (cellar master) Daniel Shanks to Elin McCoy on bloomberg.com.

The article goes on to criticise Shanks’s ‘dismaying’ process of choosing wine for state dinners.

In the Bloomberg interview, Shanks explains how he opts for youthful, vigorous wines with ‘presence’ that ‘can stand up to the intense atmosphere of a White House state dinner’.

The preference for ‘juvenile behemoth’ fruit bombs over wines with delicacy, finesse and ageing potential, is similar to the ‘shock and awe’ tactics of the Bush regime’s foreign policy, Steinberger says.

  • Read Elin McCoy’s original Bloomberg interview with Daniel Shanks

    ‘The White House needs a new wine policy. Wine service during the Bush era has been hostage to a profoundly misguided strategy that has turned wine into an unnecessarily crude instrument of statecraft’.

    President Obama is urged to act swiftly and boldly in implementing change, starting with the replenishment of the White House cellar.

    Moreover, the ban on foreign wines at the White House, a stricture that has remained in place since the 1960s under Lyndon Johnson, should be immediately lifted.

    ‘American wines hardly need a presidential seal to certify their worthiness’, Steinberger said.

    ‘A country that has just elected a guy called Barack Obama is hardly likely to erupt in nativist anger should a French or Italian wine grace the White House menu.’

    Written by Lucy Shaw

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