Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tuesday Review, The Billionaire's Vinegar

A friend loaned me her copy of The Billionaire's Vinegar saying she was too busy to read it. I sometimes pre-read for her (she has a vast library) and let her know whether or not a book's worth her time, particularly if it's not one of her favorite genres. Kinda like taste testers in medieval times. Only I get sleepy instead of being poisoned to death. Mostly because I know when to stop if a book reads like it's going to kill me.

The Billionaire's Vinegar, by Benjamin Wallace, is a true story, only recently somewhat resolved. Several decades ago, a German wine enthusiast found a cache of cellared wine in Paris which he believed originally belonged to Thomas Jefferson. Several of you have probably heard details of this story, since one of the bottles sold at auction to Malcolm Forbes's son back in the '80's, becoming the most expensive wine ever sold. It's a twisting, complex tale of truth and lies, money and power, obsessive collecting, people believing what they want to believe, and it winds its way from the early '70's to as recently as two years ago.

I love that the author keeps the story interesting (too many true stories aren't written well), that despite the wealth of information I had to absorb to understand the story line (I knew so little about wine and its world), Wallace kept me engaged, interested in knowing more about the subject so I could continue reading. The Billionaire's Vinegar almost reads like fiction stylistically, which makes it a hit for me.

In talking through the book with my Hunny (when I'm absorbed in a book, I talk through the plot with him), he remarked that it was a Blink book. Why yes! The characters in the book all had some sort of gut check about the German's story, about the tastings, about the murky elements surrounding the bottles' origins. Nearly everyone chose to ignore what they knew and believe what they wanted to be true. Blink, by the way, is a phenomenal book and I highly recommend it.

So yes, I recommend The Billionaire's Vinegar. If it were a movie, I'd say wait till it came out on video. In other words, pick up the paperback or head to your local library. But that's mostly because I prefer fiction to non. I you're a wine afficianado, you'll probably want the hardback edition.

Until I write again ...



Leenie said...

Thanks for the info on The Billionaire's Vinegar. Not sure I'm ready to tackle big money and wine right now but BLINK looks fascinating.

Karen said...

OK....just added to books to my must read list.