The State Department???
Hard as this is to believe, the U.S. State Department used to publish a list of “Recommended Wines of the United States.” The introduction to the 1972 list notes that the wines recommended are based on “personal tastings by the State Department Selection Committee.” Twenty-nine wineries are listed; 22 in California and 7 in New York. Among the wines the Selection Committee loved: Almaden Solera Cocktail Sherry, Charles Krug Gamay Rosé, Louis Martini Gewurztraminer, Hanns Kornell Champagne, Gold Seal Champagne, Paul Masson Rare Tawny Port, Souverain Green Hungarian, and Widmer’s Catawba. The type of wine mentioned more than any other was Cabernet Sauvignon immediately followed by Riesling tied with Sherry. Wines called Pale Dry Sherry, Rare Dry Sherry, Cocktail Sherry, Flor Sherry, and Cream Sherry all made the list. (Needless to say, in 1972 U.S. wineries thought nothing of co-opting European appellation names such as Champagne, Sherry, and Port). My thanks to my friend and super wine educator Kevin Zraly who found this list in his files and used it in 1972 to plan a wine trip to California.