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The Mystery of the World's Most Expensive Wine

Jun 10, 2008

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Book Tour is a Web feature and podcast. Each week, we present leading authors of fiction and nonfiction as they read from and discuss their work.

Benjamin Wallace's best-selling first book, The Billionaire's Vinegar, is at once a detective story and a sensational history — of wine, wine snobs and the most expensive bottle of wine ever sold.

Wallace begins his story in 1985, when a 1787 bottle of Chateau Lafite Bordeaux was sold at auction for a record-setting $156,000. Rumors about the bottle's provenance began to swirl in the wine world. Did it truly come from a bricked-up cache formerly belonging to Thomas Jefferson? Was it part of a Nazi stash? Or was it a fake?

As Wallace attempts to unravel the mystery, he introduces a cast of eccentric characters — billionaires, shady dealers and obsessed oenophiles — along with their peculiar world of decadence and deceit.

Movie rights for the book have already been purchased by Will Smith's production company. One producer told Variety, "For me, [it] is the unraveling of a mystery that comes down to a guy who punked the wine world."

This reading of The Billionaire's Vinegar took place in May 2008 at the Politics and Prose bookstore in Washington, D.C.

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