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11.20.2008

Ye Olde Wine Shoppe

When I was a kid, one of my favorite things to do on the weekends was to go to garage sales. I liked looking at all the stuff that other people had (which I didn't) but perhaps more importantly, I loved that I could buy it for a nickel. Or something like that. I'm sure my mother did, too, since we couldn't exactly afford shopping sprees at ToysRUs.

I don't know when was the last garage sale I visited, but I'm pretty sure there wasn't anything there for a nickel. It's easy to get nostalgic about what amazing things we used to be able to buy for ridiculously little money. Perhaps for this reason I still really enjoy an occasional flip through reproductions of the old Sears Roebuck catalog where you could get an entire bureau of drawers for a bit more than a dollar.

So it probably comes as no surprise that I'm fascinated by the 1909 inventory list from UK wine merchant Berry Brothers and Rudd that Jamie Goode just posted on his blog. It's quite a treat to look through this little catalog it and see what was available before the first World War in England, and how things were priced. Jamie points out one of the most interesting facts -- that German Riesling was either popular enough or hard enough to get that it was priced comparable to many of the top Bordeaux wines of the time.

It's pleasantly comforting to see familiar names on this wine list, and mouthwatering to contemplate buying a case of Domaine Romanee Conti for less than $150. In these tough economic times, when many wine lovers, myself included, have cut back on wine expenditures, this list is almost cruel.

I was particularly intrigued by the category in one of the margins labeled as "Sparkling White Medoc." Did Bordeaux make sparkling white wines as recently as the turn of the century? That was news to me.

In any case, the list is an interesting little diversion if you care to take a few minutes to check it out.

Thanks to Jack at Fork & Bottle for the tip.

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Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.