by Fred McMillin
for November 11, 1999


Hello Dolley
On Veterans' Day



In the East Room of the White House hangs the portrait of George Washington that Dolley Madison saved by fleeing Washington before the British troops burned the White House in the summer of 1814.

The Rest of the Story

While Veterans' Day properly celebrates the contribution principally of U.S. males, I wanted today to let Dolley Madison symbolize the bravery of many, many women in the face of war as well.

Barton and Guestier Former White House chef-historian Francois Rysavy describes her this way. "The history books picture a sweet and demure Dolley with a depth about the thickness of the sheet of paper it's written on. The real Dolley was far different. She was a hearty, hale character who used snuff and didn't hesitate to give her opinion.

In a sense, she served as First Lady for two Presidents, the widower Thomas Jefferson (James Madison was Secretary of State), and then for her husband when he became President. Dolley was such a sensational success as hostess that many people felt she helped to re-elect him to his second term."

She created a culinary sensation when in 1809 she introduced a strange, frozen dessert at a White House dinner...ICE CREAM. Her wine lessons came from America's foremost master of the grape, President Jefferson. He imported chiefly French wines, so an affordable French is today's wine.

Wine of the Day

Seven years before Dolley served that ice cream, Hugh Barton and Daniel Guestier named their French wine firm Barton and Guestier, so...

Barton and Guestier 1995 Cabernet Sauvignon
Appellation—Vin de Pays d'Oc, France
Price—$7 range
Composition—100% Cab
History of B & G—See July 1, 1997 WineDay titled "B & G? Oui, Oui!"
Importer—Seagram, (707) 255-7667, FAX (707) 255-1119
Rating—If you drink reds costing less than $10, definitely try this one. RECOMMENDED in its price range.


One of the secrets of Dolley's success may have been her use of wine in the kitchen. For example, in preparing her beef and vegetable soup, the final step was to add a tad of sherry...TWO CUPS!

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


WineDay Annex

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Fred McMillin


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