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  • Writer's pictureSusan Welsh

An Inauguration Toast

On January 20, 1961, my grandfather attended the inauguration of John Fitzgerald Kennedy as the 35th president of the United States. Marian Anderson sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" and Robert Frost recited his poem "The Gift Outright."

Kennedy's presidency would kick off what food historians have dubbed CUISINE À LA CAMELOT, a period of exquisite and lavish meals inspired by Jackie's love of all things French and John's love of James Bond movies—many in which Dom Pérignon makes a cameo appearance.

But it was in 1972 that President Nixon introduced a California sparkling wine into the presidential circle. Nixon's "Toast to Peace" with the Premier of China Zhou En-lai was made while holding glasses of Schramsberg Blanc de Blanc, the California sparkling wine that has been a favorite of mine for decades.

In the '80s, Ronald Reagan served a considerably sweeter California bubbly at his second inaugural luncheon— Schramsberg's Cremant Demi-sec, made with the unique Flora grape, a cross between Semillon and Gewurtztraminer developed at UC Davis in 1938. We also served Cremant at my father's 40th birthday party at The Broadmoor in Lambertville, NJ. A gem of a restaurant where I developed a taste for brie sautéed in breadcrumbs and adored the French silk pie. Both of which, by the way, go beautifully with bubbles.

Due to Covid, this year's inaugural luncheon has been canceled. There will be no fancy champagne and no party to compare to that of Benjamin Harrison's 1889 bash of Blue Point oysters on ice and an 800-pound cake replicating the Capitol building.

Here at home we will celebrate with a throwback to Nixon and drink the bottle of Schramsberg Blanc de Blanc that's chilling in the fridge. We will toast to the new president and the history-making of our first female, Black, South Asian vice president, Kamala Harris. We will also toast our new President, Joe Biden, and echo his sentiments in our toast to "A day of history and hope, of renewal and resolve."

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