Slate.com investigates the high-end wine market

Screen shot 2010 06 14 at 5.04.00 PM It is rare to see long-form journalism on the web. It’s even harder to find superb investigative journalism in wine writing. Thus the department of fine and rare wine writing just got a path-breaking new entry: “What’s in the Bottle?” published on Slate.com.

In it, Mike Steinberger explores the rarefied and occasionally louche world of supremely expensive wines that the book The Billionaire’s Vinegar made widely known. The cast of characters includes Hardy Rodenstock and billionaire Bill Koch as before, but expands to include a prominent merchant, auctioneers, collectors, and the critical role of Robert M. Parker, Jr.

Consider the piece a must-read. Uncorking a magnum of 1921 Petrus while reading is optional, however.

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7 Responses to “Slate.com investigates the high-end wine market”


  1. Thanks for pointing this out. Off to read it now….


  2. Yeah, but if you’ve already go the `21 magnum of Petrus open, then I *guess* I’ll have a glass…


  3. I really like Steinberger’s wine writing. With regard to RMP, this piece edges a bit too close to me to blaming the victim. I’ve read that the fine art market is prone to manipulation in a similar sort of way with cozy relationships between galleries, collectors and auction houses…


  4. [...] seeing this post on Dr Vino’s, I read the Slate article on fraud in the high-end wine market, and it made me [...]


  5. I wonder, if you buy a really good fake of 1921 Petrus and can’t tell the difference by tasting it, should you really know that it’s fake?

    Just posted about this:
    http://www.blindspectator.com/?p=215


  6. Don’t really understand your motive, beyond the obvious, for commenting on Steinberger’s pale piece. I would have thought, from a historian’s point of view, yours, that it would have been clear that Slate’s post was premature. It does not have heft. The jumble of years and dates, though mother’s milk for the lawyer buried in the archive, really sheds no light for the rest of us.

    As Mark Twain said, “The researches of many commentators have already thrown much darkness on this subject, and it is probable that if they continue we shall soon know nothing at all about it.”


  7. Thank goodness my opinion of Slate’s journalistic was low before I read the article. At least I was not disappointed. Still, it was a fun gossipy read. Why?

    My feeling is that the world of high end wine sales, the people, the wines, the money, is interesting to observe especially for those of us that stick to the $10-20 price range for our personal consumption. The success of the book played into that voyeur tendency of ours when it comes to these wines.


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