The Dog Doesn’t Die

Book reviews & random thoughts

Does the Dog Die? A Brief Review of The Billionaire’s Vinegar, by Benjamin Wallace

This is a story about wishful thinking, and people who have more money than sense — it’s the story of how people who wanted bragging rights for having the “most special” bottle of wine were conned by the Bernie Madoff of wine purveyors, a German by the name of Hardy Rodenstock.

Hardy fooled almost everyone, because those who could afford to spend $150,000 and up on a single bottle of wine wanted to believe that 200 years after the fact, he’d discovered a “secret stash” of perfectly kept wines that had been in Thomas Jefferson’s Paris collection. And like most con artists, Hardy wasn’t satisfied with the first big fraud. He kept “finding” things, and selling them to eager collectors who would then take their over-priced treasures to wine tastings where the point wasn’t so much to find good wines as to show off.

I know something about wine. I’ve had a few well-aged Ports and Sauternes. And it’s a pleasure. But these people turned it into a competition. Not that I’m criticizing, but it became clear from Wallace’s well-crafted story that, for most of these wine buyers, the price tags on the bottles mattered as much as the taste of the contents. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The Billionaire’s Vinegar doesn’t so much chase down Hardy Rodenstock as it explores the world of obsessed wine collectors. A bottle of 1787 Chateau Lafite Bordeau sets the story in motion, and gives Wallace an opportunity to discern the why and how of the rare-wine collecting subculture. The fact that Hardy Rodenstock was elusive and hard to pin down in his fraudulent activities just adds more depth to the story. This was a riveting story, and I highly recommend the book.

As for animal lovers, there’s nothing to worry about here. I do not recall a single animal making an appearance in this book, which means it is 100% SAFE for animal lovers. Enjoy — preferably with a glass of “the bargain of the week” from your favorite wine merchant.


May 3, 2009 - Posted by | Book Reviews, wine | , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] esheley placed an interesting blog post on Does the Dog Die? A Brief Review of The Billionaire's Vinegar, by …Here’s a brief overviewLike most blogs, this one includes random thoughts and observations, but its primary purpose is to provide book reviews for animal lovers. Please feel free to add comments or make suggestions of books that are animal-friendly. … […]

    Pingback by Topics about Animal-lovers » Archive » Does the Dog Die? A Brief Review of The Billionaire's Vinegar, by … | May 4, 2009 | Reply

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