Book Reviews,  Creative Non-Fiction,  History

The Billionaire’s Vinegar by Benjamin Wallace *** (of 4)

I had no idea there were still bottles of wine worth drinking from the 18th and 19th centuries or that collectors frequently amassed cellars with thirty, fifty, or one hundred thousand bottles. The Billionaire’s Vinegar opens with the 1985 Christie’s auction of a bottle of Lafite originally purchased by Thomas Jefferson in Paris in 1787. From there Wallace brings us into a world of snobs, sneaks, dilettantes, scientists, clods, and show-offs, a world of invitation-only verticals where a single wine is tasted through decades of vintages and over-the-top horizontals of single year’s showpieces of rare wines that cost thousands per bottle. Patrons are invited to drink history. And there’s a mystery. Is the Jefferson bottle authentic? October 2008.