Photograph by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg
President Barack Obama, right, at an official state dinner with Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, in the Rose Garden on June 7, 2011.
That secret White House wine list from the state dinner menu for U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron?
It’s no longer a secret, thanks to Eric LeVine.
LeVine is the founder of CellarTracker, an online wine cellar management and tasting notes company. And he happened to be a guest at the March 14 dinner.
Adding a new level of intrigue, LeVine said in an e-mail interview that the version of the menu the White House placed at the tables did list which specific wines were served with each course — unlike the version of the menu released publicly by the White House, which said only that American wines would be paired with each course.
The White House stopped disclosing the individual wines served at state dinners after the Jan. 19, 2011, dinner for Chinese President Hu Jintao drew criticism for lavishness including a wine that retailed for as much as $399 a bottle, Bloomberg News reported. The White House has declined to discuss the policy shift.
Why did the White House invite LeVine after taking lengths to keep the names of the wines served from being publicized? He came with his wife, Suzi LeVine, who works for Microsoft in Washington state and is an Obama campaign bundler who raised between $200,000 and $500,000 according to the campaign’s Q4 2011 report. LeVine was one of several major Obama fundraisers on last night’s guest list.
“My wife is a rockstar. I tagged along,” Eric LeVine wrote on his blog, where he also posted a photo of the dinner invitation and recounted the night’s pours along with details of the meal.
Among the pours:
*2009 Peter Michael Chardonnay Ma Belle-Fille, Sonoma Valley, California (average price $97 for 750 ml on wine-searcher.com)
*2008 Leonetti Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley, Washington (average price $97 for 750 ml on wine-searcher.com)
*Iron Horse Vineyards sparkling wine, Sonoma Valley, California