Papers of John Adams, volume 15

To C. W. F. Dumas

From Francis Dana

5 June 1783

Mr. Sarsfield has the honor of conveying his compliments to Mr. Adams and of sending him the letter that he requested regarding wine. It explains everything Mr. Adams needs to know. Mr. Sarsfield would willingly write to Mr. de Piffon Martoret, his correspondent in Bordeaux, to introduce Mr. Adams and to make all the arrangements he deems appropriate.1

All these wines reach their perfection only after a few years. You must keep them in bottles and observe the rules you will find here.

1. Never draw the wine in the month of February under clear skies. If you draw it under a March moon, it will sparkle.

2. If you can, avoid drawing it during a frost, especially red wine, which will then turn black.

3. Keep it one year in the barrel before putting it in bottles. For example, the wine that is harvested this year 1783 should not be put in bottles until February 1785.

4. Enclosed is the recipe for a fining agent necessary to clarify the wine.2 You add it to the barrels, stir it well into the wine using a stick you insert into the bunghole, and leave it to sit for at least fifteen days. You can wait two months after fining the wine before drawing it without a problem. Note: You should leave the sediment in for at least three months. It can remain in good condition that way for a year, if it is well sealed and in a good cellar.

5. The bottles should lie on their sides in the cellar, and it is advisable to put a little sand between them.


Mr. Adams knows the wine from Canon and the white wine that Mr. Sarsfield orders for him. The Saint-Emilion wine is not as well known as the Canon, but it is less expensive and quite good.

Mr. Sarsfield paid between ₶600 and ₶720 for a Bordeaux barrel of Canon wine holding 1,000 bottles. White wine never cost him more than about ₶150.

I request that Mr. Adams please acknowledge receipt of this letter.3