After the deadly Charlottesville riots, Donald Trump responded by . . . plugging his family winery in Virginia. Aided by an expert oenophile, the author takes the bait—and tastes the pain.
“I thought you needed something good to drink,” the server said, slipping two glasses of deep-ruby-red wine in front of me and my guest. My guest was a nationally known wine expert. The server wanted to apologize for the wines I had made my guest taste for the previous 90 minutes, which the server had brought to the table with mystified, foot-dragging reluctance.
What about the 2015 Trump Meritage, a blend of red grapes that are “sourced,” meaning trucked in from the West Coast. The label calls it “American red wine”; it sells for $30 on the Web site. My guest tasted the Meritage: “Welch’s grape jelly with alcohol. A terrible, fumy, alcoholic nose. If I served you that on an airline you’d be mad.” (A buyer at a well-known Washington wine shop I later asked to evaluate the wines—he once sold Trump vodka, produced from 2005 to 2011, because he liked it—took one sip of the Meritage, wanted no more, and said, “Grocery-store wine.”) My guest went on, “They’re lying about the alcohol on the label.” He knew this, he explained, by a strange method of marching his two front fingers down his chest after he swallowed, saying that when he could feel the alcohol down to his belly button he knew it was 14 percent alcohol, which is what the label said. But this wine pushed his fingers below the belt. He knew the Meritage was 15 percent—and a 1 percent variance, oddly, is permitted on labels. “This’ll rip you,” he said.