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Unreserved Wine Talk

237 EpisodesProduced by Natalie MacLeanWebsite

The Unreserved Wine Talk podcast features candid conversations with the most fascinating people in the wine world. Your host, award-winning journalist Natalie MacLean, dives into how it feels to compete in the nerve-wracking World's Best Sommelier Competition, the shadowy underground of wine forgery… read more


122: Wine, the White House & Presidential Pours with Washington Post Publisher, Fred Ryan Part 1

Are you curious about how wine has played an essential role in politics? How did a bottle with Thomas Jefferson's initials become the center of a wine scandal in 1985? What does pulling a Nixon mean? Which wine connected John F. Kennedy and James Bond?

In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, I'm chatting with Fred Ryan, publisher and CEO of the Washington Post and author of Wine and The White House.

You can find the wines we discussed at


  • How did Fred develop his fascination with presidential politics?
  • When did Fred start to become interested in the world of wine?
  • What role does wine play in politics?
  • What’s the story behind Thomas Jefferson’s famous quote, “No nation is drunk when wine is freely available”?
  • How did Thomas Jefferson revolutionize the American wine scene?
  • Where in Bordeaux did Fred find a presidential wine request?
  • How was Thomas Jefferson ahead of the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855?
  • What insider elements did Fred include on the cover of Wine and The White House?
  • What can we learn about wine in the White House from Thomas Jefferson’s meticulous records?
  • Why was an FBI forensic team called in to investigate a bottle of Château Lafite wine?
  • How did wine help to break up the drunken free-for-all that was Andrew Jackson’s inauguration?
  • How did First Lady Lucy Hayes earn the nickname Lemonade Lucy?
  • Why did Woodrow Wilson have to seek special approval to take his wines to his new home after leaving the White House?
  • What instructions were the White House wait staff given for Winston Churchill’s visit?
  • What was the US attitude towards wine after Prohibition ended?
  • Which wine-filled events stood out in Roosevelt’s time in the White House?
  • What happened to the wine in the White House cellar when it burned down?


Key Takeaways
  • I loved how Fred’s stories illuminated how important a role wine has played in US and global politics, from diplomatic dinners and trade disputes.
  • I also liked how handling wine revealed the personalities of the presidents, from pulling a Nixon to Regan birthday celebrations.
  • The history of the US is also revealed through the stories about Jefferson and other early presidents.
  • And the story about the forensic scientists involved in discovering the fake Jefferson bottle is worthy of a CSI episode.


About Fred Ryan

Frederick J. Ryan, Jr., publisher and CEO of the Washington Post, has been an aficionado of both wine and White House history for most of his life. Growing up in Italy and California, he developed an early interest in wine and its production, studied winemaking and its history, and now participates in a joint winemaking venture in Napa Valley. Ryan’s fascination with wine parallels his lifelong interest in the American presidency. He served in a senior staff position in the Ronald Reagan White House and as Reagan’s post-presidential chief of staff. Ryan currently serves as chair of the Board of Directors of the White House Historical Association, of the Board of Trustees of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, and of the Wine Committee of the Metropolitan Club of Washington, D.C.


Watch Party

Join me for the debut Watch Party of the video of this conversation that I’ll be live-streaming for the very first time on Instagram Live Video, Facebook Live Video or YouTube Live Video on Wednesday, April 7th at 7 pm eastern.

Click on the "Interested" or "Going" buttons below so that you'll be notified when we go live:

I’ll be jumping into the comments on all three platforms as we watch it together so that I can answer your questions in real-time.

I want to hear from you! What’s your opinion of what we’re discussing? What takeaways or tips do you love most from this chat? What questions do you have that we didn’t answer?



One of you will win a personally signed copy of Fred's gorgeous, new book Wine and The White House.


How to Win

All you have to do is just pick your favourite social media channel -- Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn -- tag us and post a wine you love before April 7th. Make sure to use these handles and hashtags:

  • Instagram - @NatalieMacLeanWine
  • Twitter -  @NataliemMacLean
  • Facebook - @NatDecants




I’ll select the winner from those of you who participate before April 7th. I’ll also reshare your stories and posts with my followers whether you win or not so that you connect with more wine lovers.

Good luck, and I can't wait to see (and share) what you post!



To learn more about the resources mentioned in this episode, visit

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