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Thomas Jefferson on Wine Hardcover – November 8, 2006

4.4 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Dazzling . . . Hailman brings Jefferson to life for modern Americans through the unique prism of wine. A must-have for every wine lover."

--Robin Kelley O'Connor, Bordeaux Wine Bureau; president, Society of Wine Educators



"Hailman certainly knows his wines."

--Jay McInerney, New York Times Book Review

From the Publisher

This definitive account of a great American’s lifelong passion for fine wine

--- Offers all of Jefferson’s significant writings on wine

--- Introduces an author who is a noted expert in established wine circles—former wine critic for Gannett News Service and the Washington Post

--- Combines the rising popularity of wine in American culture with the consistent appeal of Jefferson as a historical figure

--- Features numerous quotes from Jefferson’s own writings, preserving a rare personal perspective on a familiar icon

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 457 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Mississippi; First Edition edition (November 8, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 157806841X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578068418
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.5 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #726,405 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Thomas Jefferson is so well known that it is difficult to find a book about him that offers new insight into his multi-faceted character. This book does: it presents Jefferson through his very discriminating taste in wine, which was so expert that his favorite French wines later became the great Classified Growths of Bordeaux and the premiere wines of Burgundy. He traveled through France, Germany, and Italy with the express purpose of selecting wines for Monticello, the house he had built in Virginia, capitalizing on an opportunity that came when he was appointed Ambassador Plenipotentiary to the French court. When he was elected President he built the wine cellar for the White House and stocked it with his favorite imported wines. All this is to his credit, and provides further evidence of Jefferson's extensive learning, which went beyond books. But he never succeeded in his pet project, of planting a vineyard and cultivating at home the fine wines he enjoyed abroad. That was for later Virginians to do, and the author provides a tour map of the wineries that now surround Monticello, fulfilling the dream Jefferson himself failed to realize.
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Format: Hardcover
What I was hoping for and got was a historical perspective on the man relative to the events of his time and how wine was viewed, served and distributed. In general the book is a great mix of all three although at times the inventory lists of wine in Jefferson's possession do not yield enough clues about him. Sometimes they are just lists. For those that want to try to at least purchase a little bit of history, the book is helpful in identifying French wineries that are still in existence from Jefferson's time. Some winery terms used to today are explained in the context of Jefferson's. The use of his letters to people are cool but sparse. Could have used more.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Truly a book for lovers of TJ and wine. So thick in facts, history, TJ and wine that it comes off as a highly readable and quaffable technical manual. Some parts get into such minuscule detail that a book on any other subject would become trivial. This one, on the other hand, becomes twice as interesting. It is because the author analyzes the details and connects them across TJ's life and history. If devil is in the details than TJ's wine life is pure evil. The record-keeping stoic as he was he left us with all his cellar purchases, but almost without any indication how he felt about wine. This is the book that divulges his feelings, interest and love for wine and does it well. Unimaginable amount of research went into this book as the subject hasn't been addressed before. That only adds to it allure.
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Format: Paperback
Thomas Jefferson has been called an "American Sphinx" (Joseph Ellis), but there is no mystery about his love of wine. John Hailman has done his homework in this well-researched, fascinating portrait of Jefferson as not only one who enjoys drinking wine, but who seems driven -- bordering on obsessed, frankly -- to know all there is to know about all subjects related to wine: from what kinds of grapes are grown producing what kinds of wine in different parts of France, Italy and Germany (where Jefferson toured incognito on two different occasions while serving as a commissioner of the newly formed United States government to France); to listening to vineyard owners describe the process of making wine; to working to lower tariffs on imports of wine (there were, for all practical purposes, no American vineyards during Jefferson's lifetime) in the belief that, among other things, wine was much healthier for Americans than whiskey. I had no idea that so many of Jefferson's letters (and replies to his letters) still exist, and Hailman draws extensively on these in telling the story of a man with a lifetime passion. One of the pleasures of reading the book is that its focus is relatively narrow: Jefferson and his fascination with wine. There is little, if any, discussion, for example, of his being the primary author of the Declaration of Independence or his decision to purchase Louisiana from France while President. And yet, to really have a well-rounded picture of Jefferson, one must know about his love of all things wine. Hailman has helped fill out the portrait of who Jefferson actually was with this excellent contribution.
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Format: Paperback
I am fascinated by the lives of US presidents and love good wine, so this book was a perfect combination. It details the life of Thomas Jefferson through his search for wines of the world from the US and Europe. He spent a lot of time in France as US minister there and travelled extensively through there as well as Germany, UK and Italy. The author is a wine expert and he has really done etensive research and analysis, almost all from original Jefferson letters and ledgers. I particularly like how Hailman explains what the winemakers' names are today so you can try and find similar wines to what Jefferson bought and drank. Hailman also looks at Monticello and Jefferson's winemaking attempts there as well as what the foundation is doing there today. The only negative (therefore the four stars) is that the book at time is too detailed and rambles a bit. But it is well worth the read and you will learn so much about the man and his search for and enjoyment of wine.
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