Madeira decanter excavated at Monticello (Thomas Jefferson Foundation)
For 400 years, Madeira was the most popular wine throughout the British Empire. The American colonies drank a quarter of the world’s production. George Washington enjoyed several glasses with dinner each evening, the Continental Congress celebrated the signing of the Declaration of Independence with it, and Thomas Jefferson ordered the equivalent of 3,500 bottles during his first three years in the White House.
Thomas Jefferson developed a lifelong love of Madeira from George Wythe, his law tutor at William and Mary. The fortified Portuguese wine ages very well, and shipments actually improved with heat and the rocking motion of a ship, making it a popular import in early America.
Hear more about the history of Madeira and its connection to Thomas Jefferson from Susan Sullivan Lagon, lecturer at Georgetown University’s Government Affairs Institute and historian at The Jefferson Hotel. Enjoy a guided tasting of fine Madeiras hosted by David Metz, wine director and sommelier at the hotel’s Michelin-starred Plume restaurant.