The drinking habits of American presidents start with George Washington's fondness for fortified wine. Over the years, there have been imbibers-in-chief, ranging from whiskey lovers and Bordeaux fanciers to reformed boozers and avowed teetotalers.
Duly inspired, bubble up with the 2007 Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs ($36), the latest vintage of the first-class California sparkler that Richard Nixon and Zhou Enlai sipped in their 1972 toast for peace.
Then, veer very red with well-priced, all-American zinfandels. The 2008 The Federalist Zinfandel ($25) sports Alexander Hamilton (who should have been president) on the label and a robust red in the bottle. The juicy Dry Creek Valley zin from 2Sons Winery is dubbed "visionary." More, well, Jeffersonian is the 2008 Brazin Lodi (B)Old Vine Zinfandel ($15), an upfront zin, with some complexity, pepper and spice. "No wimpy wines" is the motto of Ravenswood, at the top tier of California's zinmakers. The $16 "county series" includes a ripe 2007 Sonoma County Old Vine Zinfandel, which could mature for five years; and the husky, extracted 2008 Napa Valley Zinfandel, which may go longer. Look for the 2007 Bianchi Zen Ranch Paso Robles Zinfandel ($26), a mouthful, concentrated, fruity and balanced. The 2008 Quivira Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel ($20) is a spicy selection with cherry and berry notes. The 2008 Gnarly Head Old Vine Zin ($11): a jammy pick that stands up to four-alarm chili.