Monday, September 4, 2023

The Christopher Morley Wine Challenge


Christopher Morley, newspaperman and middle class bon vivant, wrote an essay about wine and the Prohibition which contains the following partial paragraph, eulogizing wines that were no longer legal in the United States:

There are names that I am selfish enough to enjoy rehearsing. Musigny, rich in bouquet and ether; Romanee-Conti, d'une delicatesse. Clos Vougeot, potent and velvety, Richebourg with exquisite power and aroma. Hospice de Beaune, strong but a touch acrid; Pommard that tickles the cheekbone; Pouilly, the perfect luncheon wine. Nuits St. Georges, bright and gracious. Chambertin, which seems to me just faintly metallic, bitterer than the soft Musigny. Meuralt, which I ran above Pouilly, and the adorable Chablis Moutonne, clear and fine as the lizard's bell-note when he rings, like an elfin anvil, softly under the old stone steps in the mild French dusk.

Sounds good, doesn't it?  A delightful mouthful to reproduce at home over the space of a year or so, I thought. So I set out to see how much it would cost to sample those wines. Not his vintage, of course. But whatever was contemporaneously available. 

And the answer? Choosing always the cheapest bottle in the category... It came to a little over four thousand dollars.

Even allowing for inflation, Morley couldn't possibly have spent so much on wine. Clearly, wine used to be a lot cheaper back when than it is now;

There is no moral to this post. I just thought you'd find it interesting.

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