Fourth of July: A Brief Wine History

July 02, 2019 by French Corner Cellars

July 4, 2019 marks the 243rd anniversary of our independence from British rule, and the days leading up to and past will be filled with fireworks, barbecues, and various drink. For many enthusiasts, white wines and rose are the drinks of choice, as well as chilled light reds.

And then there are those rare individuals seeking more from their holiday revelry, searching for something a little more… authentic.

Let’s go back those 243 years in American history, wines from North America had yet to take a meaningful hold across the land (Arizona had just began planting vinus vinifera vines in the early 1600’s), so the colonists-turned-citizens not looking to drink local ciders and whiskeys still relied on European trade to fill their goblets. The main problem for these individuals was the ride over, which was VERY inhospitable for popular offering such as claret. The one thing they could get their hands on was Portuguese madeira. Wines fortified with spirits not only increases alcohol percentages, but made the long trip across the ocean with relative ease - and, in Madeira's case, actually improved the quality significantly.

In 2019 the amount of Madeira consumed has dropped considerably, but at the time Americans were consuming 25% of all Madeira produced in Portugal. Our founding fathers and first president were fond of filling their bellies toasting with a drink that most modern people have no knowledge of. Go figure.

If you happen to be one of those intrepid explorers of the wine world that seeks out and finds this historic and delicious offering, try your best to drink it around 50 °- 55 ° Fahrenheit, you’ll thank us later.