Every year, somebody asks me to recommend a few wines with which to celebrate Independence Day, and every year my response is the same:
E Pluribus Unum
Now, here’s a question for you, Johnny Seventh Grade American History Scholar: You’ve probably seen this phrase on paper currency, on coins (except for dimes, where it really won’t fit), or even on the great Seal of the United States. If you are a real poindexter, Johnny, you may even know that it was the de facto motto of the United States until 1956, when the United States Congress passed an act (H.J. Resolution 396), adopting ‘In God We Trust’ as our official motto, effectively fusing Church and State and boldly thrusting up a middle finger at our founding fathers, who sort of frowned on this sort of thing.
The year in which Pierre Eugene du Simitiere (a Swiss dude who also designed that weird, scary Eye of Providence on dollar bills) first proposed E Pluribus Unum as a possible United States motto?
That’s right, Johnny: 1776.
But do you know what E Pluribus Unum means?
See, because that winds up being the Francis Scott key as to why I say it whenever people ask for a few wine recommendations for the Fourth. It means ‘Out of Many, One.’
And that’s my advice, Johnny, which you will be able to heed once you reach the age of majority, preferably before we send you off to the Middle East to kill terrorists in the name of freedom:
There aren’t ‘a few’ July 4th wine recommendations to consider. There is, out of many, one:
Louis Roederer Champagne.
I would have to think that when Louis Roederer’s luxury label Cristal was boycotted by Jay-Z, and subsequently lost market share among the hip-hop crowd to other easily-pronounceable bubbles like Salon and Krug (I can’t imagine that Vieille Vignes Françaises was even in the running), the entire Roederer board of directors probably breathed a huge sigh of relief. I mean, nothing against Puff Daddy and Snoop Dogg, but if I am trying to maintain a cache of sophistication with a prestige cuvée previously championed by Russian tsars, the endorsement of people who call it ‘da Cris’ through diamond-studded teeth grills while driving pimped-up Cadillacs is probably not the specific thumbs-up I’m after.
Cristal, incidentally, was created in 1867 for Alexander II of Russia, and the reason that it is bottled in clear glass to this day is so that the monarch could be certain that no explosives had been secreted within. One can but hope that the Alex was nurturing a pain-numbing Cristal buzz fourteen years later when he wound up being blown up anyway by ‘People’s Will’ revolutionary Ignaty Grinevitsky.
And that is, as Roc-a-Fella might say, da bomb.
Meanwhile, Back In Reims
Louis Roederer inherited his uncle’s company in 1833, and in a stroke of magnanimous modesty, renamed it after himself; previously, it had been called Dubois Père & Fils.
Okay, Johnny, now get your war-mongering nose out of Call of Duty 3—geez, no wonder we can’t get out of Afghanistan; these kids are bred to it—and answer another question for us: In what year was Dubois Père & Fils founded?
Bingo again: 1776.
One more, and then you can go back to massacring cyber-Nazis: What else happened in 1776? A no brainer, right? On July 4, Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, effectively a ‘no-turning-back’ decision to wage war against the world’s most formidable army.
A little more complicated is why we ended up winning that war—certainly the prowess of men like George Washington, Ethan Allen and Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben played a huge role, but in retrospect, even at its most disciplined, the American army was a large, glorified militia, and less than fifty percent of the colonists even supported their efforts. In a nutshell, we would have been soundly thumped (and the only finding our founding fathers would have found was themselves at the end of a rope) had it not been for the intervention of the world’s other superpower, effectively saving our scrawny, if remarkably ballsy asses from certain doom:
The French. As in Louis Roederer and company.
The United States and Louis Roederer Champagne, both born in 1776, are each turning 236 this year. And as I do every year, I am advocating a simultaneous celebration of each birthday.
I know it means having to buy two presents, but if you’re short of ideas, I believe that Louis Roederer wouldn’t say no to a brand new Caddie—named, of course, for his countryman Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac.
And I guarantee that a set of diamond-studded grills would do George Washington’s wooden choppers proud.
Whaddya think, Johnny? A little bling for the king?