...to have hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend on bottles of wine from the eighteenth century which may or may not have belonged to Thomas Jefferson.
That's the crux of the story in Benjamin Wallace's The Billionaire's Vinegar: The Mystery of the World's Most Expensive Bottle of Wine, which I really, really enjoyed.* (I also know it was good, story-driven nonfiction, because Mr. CR read it and enjoyed it too, and that boy needs a good story to get interested.)
Wallace, a food writer and journalist, provides a great look behind the collectible wine scene as he tells the story of a bottle of 1787 Lafite wine, supposedly found in a Paris basement, engraved with the initials "Th. J." The wine-world notable behind the find and the eventual sale of the bottle at Christie's, a German named Hardy Rodenstock, is a wily character in his own right. Although questions were initially raised about the authenticity of the bottle of Monticello's Jefferson historians, very few in the very insular wine world questioned Rodenstock's "discovery" of the wine--a policy that would come back to haunt them.
It's a great book, equal parts wine trivia, history, fancy wine parties, and greed and corruption. It ended a bit abruptly for my taste, but I won't hold that against it. And, even though I don't have $156,000 to spend on a bottle of wine (which is what Kip Forbes, son of Malcolm Forbes, paid for that 1787 Lafite), it has put me rather in the mood for either a box of chardonnay or some of Boone Farm's best vintage.
*This is also the last book I read and enjoyed lately, and that was before surgery. I definitely need to find another good read soon.