The Billionaire’s Vinegar in the 641s

February 11, 2018 Uncategorized 8

The Billionaire’s Vinegar in the 641sTitle: The Billionaire's Vinegar: The Mystery of the World's Most Expensive Bottle of Wine
Author: Benjamin Wallace
Links: Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

Summary: A great micro-history, covering many interesting topics in just enough detail to bring this history to life.

The single subject connecting the threads of this story is a unique bottle of wine – a 1787 Château Lafite Bordeaux, supposedly owned by Thomas Jefferson and sold at auction for $156,000. The origins of this bottle were a mystery. Speculation had it coming from a cellar in Paris, a secret Nazi bunker, or a forager’s workshop. While exploring the mystery of this particular bottle, the author gives us a fascinating history of wine appreciation in the US. He also explores what draws some people to wine, gives us a glimpse into the world of wealthy wine collectors and wine forging, and considers what factors make people value a single bottle of wine so highly.

I really love a good micro-history, where an author takes one small topic and connects it to a lot of other interesting topics to make a great story. This single bottle of wine had an interesting story all its own. In particular, the twists and turns in the mystery of whether or not it was real kept me turning pages. The author also shared interesting bits of the history of wine in the United States, with a focus on Thomas Jefferson. In the modern era, this book was an interesting look at the science available to authenticate wine and the subculture surrounding the collection of wine. Perhaps because of stumbling into the wonderful world of book bloggers myself, I’m always fascinated by the subcultures that arise in groups with a shared interest.

All of the topics covered in this book – food, history, science, and subcultures – are things that appeal to me, so this book hit all the right notes for me. It was also written in an engaging way with just the right amount of detail. The details brought every scene to life without slowing the story down. Amusing anecdotes about the people involved also kept this story fun. If this topic appeals to you, I’d definitely suggest picking this up, because the execution was great.

Inspired by Arya at Fangirl Lexicon’s choice to also tackle a Dewey Decimal challenge, I’m thinking of talking a little more about my challenge in my reviews. For this book, I just want to note that the 641s are a favorite of mine, including foodie nonfiction and cookbooks. I’ve already read about a half dozen books for this number!

8 Responses to “The Billionaire’s Vinegar in the 641s”

  1. whatsnonfiction

    This sounds like a good one! I’m also fascinated by microhistories, even more so when it’s a subject I didn’t have any particular interest in and the author manages to pull me into the story anyway. It sounds like this one does exactly that.

  2. Naomi

    I love this kind of book, but so rarely have time to read them. However, I like to keep a running list for the day all my kids have flown the coup and I can stop making lunches and cooking supper. (Not that I’m wishing away the years… just planning ahead!)

    Now that I work at the library, and spend a lot of time shelving books in the nonfiction section, I can picture nicely all the books in the sections you’re talking about. I often end up flipping through books while shelving in the 641s. 🙂
    Naomi recently posted…Survival: ‘Touch’ by Alexi Zentner and ‘Castle of Water’ by Dane HuckelbridgeMy Profile

    • DoingDewey

      Whenever you’re looking for more, I’d be happy to recommend some! I really love this kind of book too 🙂

      I’m also getting pretty familiar with this section of my library! I love just browsing at the library and I have enjoyed getting back into this past year.

  3. JaneGS

    I absolutely love books like this! Slice of history that provides social commentary and perspective. Will have to put this on the reading list. Great review–really gave a flavor of the book.

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