The Billionaire’s Vinegar

Continuing my posts on books I’ve been reading: I just finished up The Billionaire’s Vinegar: The Mystery of the World’s Most Expensive Wine by Benjamin Wallace (also available from FCPL).  It was an interesting, if a little dry at the beginning, read.   Briefly it tells the story of the wine market for rare old (18th and 19th Century) wines.  It focuses on a number of bottles sold by a German dealer to various individuals, including a billionaire, that were purported to be from Thomas Jefferson’s cellar in Paris.  I enjoyed the book especially the last part where it becomes  a detective story in trying to figure out the authenticity of the bottles.   The story sweeps up so many eminences in the field of wine:  Robert Parker, Michael Broadbent, and Jancis Robinson to name just a few.  It was fascinating to see how they became vested in the authenticity or inauthenticity in the bottles and  how some people turned a willful blind eye, or at least indifference, to the doubts about the bottles just so they could have bragging rights about tasting or owning such a bottle.  Like all good tales it ultimately is about much more than just wine: ego, pride, greed and other facets of human nature.  For someone who has a wine cellar for the sole purpose of keeping wine for drinking, it  struck me how these rarefied collectors bore about as much relationship to the average wine drinker  as big game hunting does to cooking.   Without spoiling the ending by posting here I’d love to know what you think.



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Filed under Reading, Wine

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