Tuesday, January 16, 2007

luxury good, fetish object

"What is man, when you come to think upon him, but a minutely set, ingenious machine for turning with infinite artfulness, the red wine of Shiraz into urine?"
Isak Dinesen

I like to loiter in the richer liquor stores of my city, browsing the pricier Bordeaux and Burgundies. I like to pick up a bottle of two hundred dollar wine and feel its heft, test the weight and coolness of the glass, check out the quality of the paper stock on the label, imagine what it might be like to drop the thing on the floor. I like to watch besuited gents filling their miniature shopping carts with bottle after bottle, placing orders for a case of this or that.

I fantasize about owning a dusty, stone-walled wine cellar like Ingrid Bergman's in Notorious. And as important as the consumption of wine would be for that fantasy, I also just want one of those big gothic skeleton keys to lock the heavy cellar door.

While I can shrug my shoulders at just about any other luxury good I can't afford, and there are plenty of those, the desire to collect and own expensive wine is something I respect and understand. Wine dies. It won't last, no matter how carefully you cellar it; and every vintage is finite. However intensely you fetishize the experience of owning that crazily valuable grape juice, you will never fully enjoy it until you destroy it.

Wine is anti-money, despite its sometimes outrageous price. Wine collectors, whether they know it or not, are acting on an impulse to throw their money away.

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