Whether you’re a fan or not, the recent state visit from US president Donald Trump was a talking point for many reasons, not least the hospitality he enjoyed throughout his stay. Chief of these was the state banquet thrown in his honour by the Queen.
Being 6 months in preparation it took palace staff 4 days just to lay the table! By the end of the night over 1,020 glasses of wine had been served to 170 VIP’s (a thirst-slaking 6 glasses per guest on average). Joining Donald and his wife Melania were the Queen, 15 other members of the royal family, Theresa May and numerous others with cultural, diplomatic or economic ties to the US.
The wine list for events such as this need to be fully considered lest they make a political faux pas by snubbing the efforts of the visiting nation. Safe in the knowledge that Trump wouldn’t be partaking of any vinous delights (he’s famously teetotal) they were able to quite rightly focus on the talents of our own homegrown producers alongside some classic French examples.
Proceedings began with a speech by the Queen using the 2014 vintage of her own sparkling wine Windsor Great Park to toast the President and “the continued friendship between our two nations” as well as “the health, prosperity and happiness of the people of the United States”.
A starter of steamed halibut with watercress mousse and asparagus spears in a chervil sauce kicked off the 3-course menu. Just like the meticulous planning of the event all courses were served with military precision over exactly 1 hour and 15 minutes.
A notoriously brisk eater, guests are also forbidden to continue eating after the Queen has finished, so in no time at all it was straight on to the main; saddle of new season Windsor lamb with herb stuffing, spring vegetables and a Port sauce. Both courses were paired with either a white wine from Burgundy (Loius Jadot’s Domaine Duc de Magenta 1er Cru Morgeot Chassagne-Montrachet 2014) or a red from Bordeaux (Château Lafite Rothschild 1990).
Out of interest, if you fancy recreating the menu at home the Burgundy will set you back about £75 a bottle. The Bordeaux on the other hand will cost you about £1,400 – somewhere equivalent to the average UK monthly wage. I think I’ll stick to the red thanks, waiter!
For dessert, a strawberry sable with lemon verbena cream was served up alongside another English sparkler, Hambledon Classic Cuvée Rosé. It was then on to the Churchill’s 1985 Vintage Port to round off the night.
As the guests left, presumably lightly giddy from the circumstance, the food and more likely the 6 glasses of wine, spare a thought for the servers. Even now they’re probably still hand-cleaning the more than 8,000 pieces of cutlery and crockery used on the night, before they safely tuck them away one-by-one until the next time.