Are we all buckled in? Are we in a constant state of mental preparedness for the next couple of weeks? This year’s election will be one for the ages. In our mere 244 years of democratic history, we have never seen anything like this. And we have seen some crazy stuff.
This cycle, our traditions have been compromised, we are learning about all the different ways to vote, probably planning Zoom hangs, and may be looking at an election week instead of an election night (2000, anyone?). But! Nov. 3 will still be as exciting, fascinating, and anxiety-producing as any Election Day, and we deserve a little help when contemplating our futures, wringing our hands, and asking democracy to hold tight.
Wine is a drink that will endure the long haul into the evening. A wine bottle is something to sit with as the votes come in, as it will change, little by little, throughout the night — softening, opening up, and becoming more aromatic. It also has less alcohol than most other beverages, which is ideal for those who are still hoping to celebrate (or cry) later with a glass in hand.
Voters may want to go big and have a more expensive bottle on hand in the case of victory, as well as some easy-drinking bottles to sip on as the results slowly come in. Maybe your celebratory bottle is filled with bubbles, or maybe it’s a deep winter white that evolves as it comes to room temperature, or perhaps you’ll choose a soulful red that develops as you bask in your win.
Below are some wines I have tasted recently that I feel have notes of democracy, with a balanced depth of hope and allyship, and subtle hints of progress and unity. Hope you enjoy, and don’t forget to VOTE!
Thomas Jefferson hired an Italian winemaker from Tuscany named Filippo Mazzei to grow vines and make wine near his Monticello estate. It was an ambitious effort that yielded hit-and-miss results. Today, that same 200 acres of land is part of Jefferson Vineyards. And with modern know-how and mad skills, they have helped realize the awesomeness of this land. This Cabernet Franc is such a wonderful representation of how well-balanced Virginia wine can be, with its soft fruit and great acidity. This wine smells like an autumn day and brambly berries. It’s e-commerce only, but very worth it. It is cozy and calming, and will keep your mind off biting your fingernails.
Speaking of Philip Mazzei, his family’s legacy lives on in his home region of Tuscany. This 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon is a nod to his collaboration with Thomas Jefferson. The story goes that it was Philip who inspired Jefferson by saying, “All men are, by nature, equally free and independent.” It is deep and rich, with a good grip on the palate. It smells like freshly picked blackberries and turned soil. This is a 2015 vintage, and it’s aging well and ready to drink. It’s a great steak wine for those who need the sound of sizzling meat to mute the crazy.
Sonoma is the birthplace of the California flag, the home of the last and northernmost mission of the Franciscan monks, and part of the rebirth of American wine culture. So why not sip on an American Sparkler (a term I am trying to make a thing. If anyone in authority is reading this, DM me) from here? It has elegant bubbles and smells like puff pastry and lemon yogurt. The price is right for celebration-cautious voters.
We have almost always had a good relationship with the French. They love our bagels, grits, and burgers, and we love their omelettes, baguettes, and croque. They even loved Ben Franklin, French Ambassador from 1779 to 1785, despite his lack of fluency and terrible grammar. And since just before our Civil War, we have loved their bubbly wine from Champagne. For those feeling confident that their candidate has the election in the bag, here is a beautiful representation from this region to aid the celebration. It’s made from an American favorite, 100 percent Chardonnay, and is nice and creamy under a layer of persistent bubbles with a subtle whiff of citrus. It’s a vintage wine, which only happens in the better years in Champagne, and it is aging wonderfully. It’s pricey but worth the plunge — especially when paired with victory.
Zinfandel, like most of us, is from somewhere else. But until recently, we didn’t know where. In the meantime, we made it our own. Just like Malbec is from Bordeaux but its spiritual home is in Argentina, Zinfandel (Tribidrag) is from Croatia but has become something of an American grape. It has seen us through the Gold Rush and Prohibition. Some of the oldest vines in the country are the Zinfandel vine. And California is where it really shines. This Zin is very American. It’s bold and confident, with blackberry fruit depth and a dollop of oaky vanilla, balanced by good acidity and subtle spice. This bottle has a great backstory as well. This is a great wine for the night and a legit pairing for grilled burgers, lamb, or BBQ that will help temporarily distract from the lunacy on the TV.
South Africa’s democracy was born in front of our eyes in modern times, adopting one of the most progressive constitutions in history. Its wine industry is also extremely progressive in the conservation of nature. The wines of this land have been gracing our shelves since the early aughts, and they’re only recently being celebrated by the wine industry. This white wine made from Sémillon is stunning. It has been aging since 2016 and is really coming along. It has such a wonderful, salty-sweet depth on the palate and smells like honey and roasted almonds. It will open over time as you sit and watch the numbers roll in.