I love wine . . . and I love history. And I especially love it when they get all tangled up together. I just finished inhaling this book:
LOVED it! It reads like a Tom Clancy novel . . . only wine is the hero. Sorry Jack Ryan, if I have to choose between you and wine . . .
When the Germans stormed into France in 1940, they weren’t just coming to occupy. They were coming to plunder . . . all the greatest French wines — Champagne, Bordeaux and Burgundy. Ah, but the French are a cunning people. They conceived ways to deceive their German occupiers. The French walled up entire wine cellars with bricks, buried their wines under gardens, and even sunk their wine in ponds. In the compulsory shipments of wine bound for Germany, the French resistance did everything from putting “good” labels on “bad” wines, to diluting wines, or loading full wine barrels onto Germany-bound trains, and then siphoning the contents so the barrels would arrive empty. Talk about a risky business! But the French were as smart as they were devious. They didn’t mess with the wines bound for the Third Reich’s top leadership — because apparently, those guys were wine snobs.
This launched me down a rabbit hole of research about the Third Reich’s drinking habits. I poured myself a glass of wine and did a little Googling . . .
The Führer himself wasn’t much of a drinker. Only occasional sips of wine and beer. Apparently, Hitler’s crazy was fueled by cake. But his staff . . . they could put away some good wine. Joseph Goebbels preferred Burgundy, while Hermann Göring fancied Bordeaux, particularly Chateau Lâfite Rothschild (and also cake). And Joachim von Ribbentrop loved Champagne.
While Googling all of this, I came across a photo of Herr Führer’s wineglasses. They sold at auction a couple of years ago for nearly $13,000. Yes, three zeros. So . . . after you shell out $13,000 for the Führer’s wine glasses (assuming you have one hell of a certificate of authenticity), what do you do with them? Do you drink out of them? I don’t think I could drink out of them . . . evil dictator germs don’t just wash off, you know. The creepiness factor hovers at about 10. So what does that leave? Throw them in the china cabinet next to grandma’s Wedgewood?
What do you think? Could you drink out of the Führer’s wineglasses?
If you haven’t read Wine & War . . . carve out some alone time this weekend and dig in. You won’t be sorry!