June 02, 2014

The Billionaire's Vinegar by Benjamin Wallace

It is amazing, if you have money, just what you can purchase.  In this case, a really old bottle of wine that was supposedly owned by Thomas Jefferson.  I can't say it is something I'd ever want to possess, but to each their own.

The Billionaire's Vinegar chronicles the auctions, private sales, findings, tastings, and pretty much everything having to do with wine from the eighties onward.  Specifically, it delves into the mystery of the Thomas Jefferson bottles.  Rare wine supposedly owned by Thomas Jefferson and auctioned off at great sums.  Later, there would be controversy surrounding the authenticity of the bottles though and both the players (ultra-rich people who have bought these bottles), scientists (analyzing the age of the bottles), tasters, and others would get involved.

There were a lot of people in this book, and with the exception of a few that came up every chapter, it was hard to keep track of them.  All the tasters, journalists, auctioneers, vintners, etc; there are a lot of people involved in the wine industry, and this book just tracked a small circle of them.  I didn't really care for any of them though.  Probably because I couldn't identify with any of them.  Well, that and with the exception of the really sweet wines, it all tastes like vinegar to me (and it's why I like the title).  I did find the history on Thomas Jefferson very informative though.  I learned things about him that I never knew, especially in regards to his spending habits.

This book started off very interesting with the information about wine and the history lesson.  But then it tapered off in the middle and became quite dry.  I disliked the politics and the intrigue and the drama that the bottles caused, especially since nothing was ever resolved so the book didn't feel finished.  I'm sure wine aficionados would have more of an appreciation for some of the people described in the book and would understand a lot more about the different vintages and bottlers.  Or at least they'd understand more of the terminology that was used.

Not a great book but it did have some good facts and was engaging in the first half.  History or wine lovers will probably enjoy it the most.

The Billionaire's Vinegar
Copyright 2008
319 pages

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