RUSH: Joe in Knoxville, Tennessee, you’re next, Open Line Friday, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Rush.
CALLER: Hello January 12th birthday dittos.
RUSH: Thank you, sir.
CALLER: Listen, I called to ask about your wine interests. I like politics as much as the next guy, but last year before our birthday a few days, you had a dinner party and you listed all these fabulous first growth Bordeaux you had for the party, and it got me to thinking about you and Marvin Shanken and Cigar Aficionado and Wine Spectator Magazine, and I’m wondering how long you’ve had that kind of interest, that level, and if it had anything to do with your relationship with him or it predated that and maybe some of your everyday type level wines. I assume you don’t drink that kind of stuff all the time.
RUSH: Okay, back in the 1980s, when I was in Sacramento, I didn’t know anything about wine. I love to tell this story. In fact, earlier than that in Pittsburgh, they had this five-star restaurant actually out in Irwin. Ben Gross and I went in there for dinner a lot, loved the sommelier they had. Fritz was his name, just the funniest, greatest old guy. I had a hot date one night and thought I’d put on a show by acting like I knew a lot about wine. So Fritz comes over, go through this rigmarole question, ‘Fritz, give me your finest year for a great red.’ He looks at me and says, ‘The year you drink it for you,’ (laughing) because he knew I didn’t know beans about it. The short answer to your question, I didn’t have my first vintage Bordeaux until 1985. I’ll never forget who purchased the bottle. We were at a restaurant, it was purchased by well-known Democrat supporter and developer in Sacramento, Angelo Tsakopoulos, and that was the first time — this had to be ’86. I’m 35 years old, the first time I have ever tasted anything like that.
I thought up until that time that all these people going on and on about first growth this, and trying to say, ‘Yeah, I taste the hazelnut hints of wood chips,’ what is this? Just drink it! I don’t taste wood chips or any of that stuff, but I do taste the soil. I now appreciate why people like this. So that was my first taste, but I couldn’t afford any of it back then. It wasn’t ’til I got to New York in 1990, the first time I went to 21. It was before I met Marvin Shanken who did introduce me to the upper-crust cigars. Dick Torykian, now of the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation, got me smoking cigars in I guess it was 1990. In fact, it was Torykian — now, you’ll understand this, Joe — it was Torykian who purchased the first bottle of 1961 Château Haut-Brion I’d ever tasted.
RUSH: Of course, I was finished then. Once that happened, I said, ‘Ooooh.’ I started learning about it on my own, and I started discovering and trying to get various things to taste and sample. So I just buy what I like. I have a pretty good wine cellar collection, it is pretty varied, but I don’t have things in there that I don’t know just because somebody says they’re good. The only thing I have is stuff I like and I only serve it when I have guests. I very rarely crack those bottles for me. For one thing, I’m not going to drink a whole bottle of wine myself a night, not even close. So the everyday wine that you would say if I were just going to have some, some half bottles Caymus, Screaming Eagle Cabernet. If I start naming names, I’m going to leave some out. Francis Ford Coppola’s Rubicon I like. There’s so much good stuff. I’m not big on white wine. I like it, but it has to be with certain kinds of food. Red wine I can handle by itself, but I don’t spend a whole lot of time with whites. I have whites, but mainly for guests. It’s the women that like the whites.
CALLER: Well, there’s some great ones in the world, but I hope you don’t drink Screaming Eagle for your everyday wines. It’s $1,600 bucks a bottle.
RUSH: Not every day, no, no, no, but when I don’t open the Bordeaux, Screaming Eagle, Caymus — Screaming Eagle is hard to get.
CALLER: Yeah, it is. Well, I appreciate it, Rush, thank you. Very interesting.
RUSH: All right. First wine question I’ve ever had on this program.