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Unreserved Wine Talk

238 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


123: Wine, Politics and Diplomatic Entertaining with Washington Post Publisher, Fred Ryan - Part 2

Only one president made his own wine and it wasn’t Thomas Jefferson. So who was it? How did Jackie Kennedy Onassis’ love of France shape White House menus? Which famous California winemaker attended a White House celebration and as a result had a falling out with his brother and started his own winery? What would surprise you about what’s in the White House wine cellar?

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 Jackie Kennedy Onassis’ love of France shape White House menus?
  • What influence did James Bond have on the wine served at one of JFK’s state dinners?
  • How did Bill Clinton tie James Bond into his speech at an official dinner?
  • What’s the story behind Jimmy Carter’s Toast of Insults?
  • Which enduring change did Jimmy Carter bring to presidential toasts?
  • Who did JFK one-up with Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1953?
  • How did a White House event play a key role in the launch of Robert Mondavi’s winery?
  • Which wine was served by Gerald Ford for the Queen’s visit at the US bicentennial?
  • What does it mean to “pull a Nixon”?
  • Did any presidents make their own wine?
  • How did Ronald Reagan become so knowledgeable about wine?
  • What role did wine play in Ronald Reagan’s celebrations?
  • Which bottle of wine has Fred been saving for a special occasion?
  • What diplomatic wine solution did Ronald Reagan find for Jacques Chirac’s 1987 visit to the White House?
  • What influence did Michelle Obama have on wines served at the White House?
  • What has Fred learned in his new research on Joe Biden’s toasts?
  • How did Ben Franklin pave the way for Thomas Jefferson’s exploration of French wines?
  • What might surprise you about the White House wine cellar?
  • How did Ronald Reagan influence guests’ wine choices?


Key Takeaways
  • I was surprised at just how small the White House wine cellar is. I had imagined it would be on the same scale of French president or the Queen’s with thousands of bottles.
  • I love the story about how the White House gala played a key role in the launch of the Robert Mondavi winery.
  • I’ve long admired the fashion sense of Jackie Kennedy Onassis, especially her love of French haute couture including those iconic Chanel suits and pearls. It’s interesting how her style also shaped White House menus and wine choices.
  • I enjoyed the stories about famous toasts, including Jimmy Carter’s Toast of Insults to more diplomatic versions from Bill Clinton Ronald Regan and Joe Biden.


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 Zoom on Wednesday, April 7th at 7 pm eastern.

You can save your spot for free right here.

I'll also be live-streaming this chat on Instagram Live Video, Facebook Live Video or YouTube Live Video. I’ll be jumping into the comments on all four 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 need to do is comment on one of these posts before 7 pm EDT on April 7th:




I’ll select the winner randomly from those who participate. You get a bonus entry for every wine-loving friend you tag and if you re-share this post in your stories.

Good luck!



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

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