Skip to main content

I Soured on The Billionaire's Vinegar #FoodieReads


I really wanted to like The Billionaire's Vinegar: The Mystery of the World's Most Expensive Bottle of Wine by Benjamin Wallace*. I mean, it's a mixture of history, wine, and mystery. You read 'wine', right? I will usually read through just about any book that includes food and/or wine. Add history and mystery to that and I thought this would be a winner.

But here's an analogy for you: If you spent an exorbitant amount of money on a bottle of wine and, at first sip, realize it's soured, would you still finish your glass...much less the bottle? I think not.

I felt the warning signs at the beginning of the book, thinking it might be a tedious read. But I persisted, hoping that I was wrong and that I was just not giving it a fair change. So, I pressed on, really gained nothing, but lost several evening's worth of reading time. Perhaps it just wasn't to my tastes as many others rave about it. But I soured on the book less than halfway through.

I hear that the rights to this story have actually been optioned for a Hollywood production. Oddly, I think I might prefer a movie version of this story. Maybe.

I thought I might write about a wine pairing, wine tasting, or Riedel wine glasses with this post, but - honestly - I just wanted to be done with this entire book.

Here's the idea...
This is a work of non-fiction, centered around the world of wine collecting and a German wine dealer named Hardy Rodenstock who acquires and sells extremely old, rare bottles of wine. There is a lot of intrigue surrounding some bottles that he purported to have belonged to Thomas Jefferson. Wallace goes into meticulous detail to catalog all the aspects of the bottle, including the engraving of “Th. J” on each bottle that Monticello historians contest fervently; the antiquity of the cork; the wax seal around it; and the provenance of the wine itself. 

Rodenstock, in his bid for authenticity, enlists the help of Michael Broadbent, Christie's auction house's in-house wine expert. Broadbent gives it his nod and that approval ignites bidding wars and fans the flames of intrigue and speculation. In fact, the first bottle that went up for auction was eventually acquired by Christopher “Kip” Forbes for more than $150,000.

From there Wallace delves into the world of rare wine tastings and collectors and, most interesting to me, wine forgery albeit unproven.

Here's what I didn't like...
While Wallace provides enough circumstantial evidence to implicate Rodenstock - in my mind - the mystery itself remains unsolved. Additionally, I'm of the mindset that wine should be enjoyed, savored, and shared with good food and great friends. I can't imagine buying a bottle of wine just to have it on display. What a waste of a vintner's efforts, right?

This was an unrewarding and frustrating read. I'm happy to be done with it and looking forward to diving into other books on my stack!

*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.


Here's what everyone else read in November 2017: here.

Comments

  1. I think the most disturbing part of this story would be that someone would spend that kind of money on a bottle of wine they are not even going to drink when there are children in this world that don't have potable drinking water....I wonder how much water could be provided for 150K?!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Jamaican Stew Peas #EattheWorld

  Here we are at November #EattheWorld event. What a year this has been! This challenge has been one that gave us some excuse for virtual travel as we've been sheltered-in-place with the coronavirus epidemic for most of 2020. So, we've been able to read about different parts of the world and create a dinner, or at least a dish, with that cuisine. This Eat the World project is spearheaded by Evelyne of  CulturEatz . Read more about  her challenge . This month, Evelyne had us heading to somewhere tropical: Jamaica. I have actually been to Jamaica, but it was almost thirty years ago...and it was just a jumping off point for the rest of our Caribbean exploration. I don't remember eating anything at all! Pandemonium Noshery: Pumpkin Rice   Culinary Adventures with Camilla: Jamaican Stew Peas  Amy’s Cooking Adventures: Jamaican Chicken & Pumpkin Soup   Palatable Pastime: Jamaican Jerk Chicken Burger   Sneha’s Recipe: Jamaican Saucy Jerk Chicken Wings With Homemade Jerk Seas

Lamskoteletten op zijn oud-Hollands for #TheBookClubCookbookCC

Here we are at April's #thebookclubcookbookCC event. It's hard to believe that we only have three more months in this year-long journey to explore - and cook from -  The Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club's Favorite Books and Authors  by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp.* Judy, Vicki, and their publisher,  Tarcher-Penguin ,  have provided the hosting bloggers with copies of the book plus copies to giveaway each month of the project. Woohoo. Incredibly generous. This month Sarah at  Things I Make (for Dinner)  has selected  Girl With a Pearl Earring  by Tracy Chevalier.** Click to read  Sarah's invitation . She shared the recipe for Griet's Vegetable Soup, but invited us to find inspiration in any of the pages. On the Page... While the boys were playing around the lake during our week in Tahoe earlier in the month, I stayed by the fire and finished this book in one sitting. Loved it. photo by R

Pistachio Dukkah for #HandCraftedEdibles

In an effort to make all of my holiday gifts this year, we are sharing recipes for hand-crafted edibles. Over the course of twelve weeks, we'll be sharing recipes that you can make at home to give to friends and loved ones, or things to serve at holiday parties. We hope you'll follow along for inspiration. You can find out more information, including the schedule:  here . This week, we are "going nuts" and sharing all sorts of recipes with nuts. Think spiced nuts or nutty fruit cake or whatever floats your nutty boat! Here's what we're posting this week... Amy's Cooking Adventures  shared her Salted Chocolate Cashew Butter Cookaholic Wife  cooked up Slow Cooker Cinnamon Almonds Making Miracles  made Honey Roasted Almonds Christmas Tree Lane  posted Crockpot Spiced Nuts A Day in the Life on the Farm  wrote about the Easiest Nut Brittle in the World Sew You Think You Can Cook  prepared Orange Rosemary Roasted Almonds Culinary Adventur