The most expensive drink I ever had

1 June 2021

By: Peter Taradash, Investor, entrepreneur, ex-lawyer, published author, EdenPress.com; Normally lives in Monaco, but stuck in Buenos Aires for last 1 year & 6 months due to Corona.

The most expensive drink I ever had?

Can anyone top $500,000 for a single bottle of wine?

It was around 35 years ago. I had just written my book, the Opus Magnum “P.T.” It was aimed at older high-net-worth men who were mildly unhappy. Why? Because they were “conventional”…Many felt they needed to break out of a boring life in a town they knew too well. Often an unhappy, loveless, sexless marriage. Many of the businessmen I knew at that time were simply not enjoying being alive.

“Teach me your secrets. One of them said to me.

Why you are always having so much fun and never seem to have a care in the world?”

That and similar stuff is what many of my old buddies said to me me.

Thus, I instinctively knew there was probably an audience for my original

“PT” Theory. What’s that?

PT 101: Break away from what other people expect of you.

Learn to explore options you never knew existed!

Find Freedom in an Unfree World by leaving your old

restrictive belief systems and the wishes of other people

far behind. Go to other places in the world where your

wildest fantasies can be realized.

I was certain that there would be a paying audience for learning to emulate my personal exuberant lifestyle of the time. Why? Because in my various activities (then in my 60s) old geezers who had been my friends, told me every day (only half-joking) they wanted to grow up to be like me.

What was the “me” of those days like to be so enviable? For one thing, I didn’t seem to work. I only did things I liked. That might include a big deal now and then, but never administrative stuff. Never going to an office. I didn’t even have an office outside my bedroom. And my bedroom. Well, that’s another story. Heffner, the then aging editor of Playboy was not the only guy who had playmates.

What did I do? I spent a lot of time cruising on yachts until I discovered that cruise ships were far less expensive more fun, and above all, happy hunting grounds for attractive young, wealthy widows. They went to seek romance and rippling muscles but ended up with fat, bald, 65 year old me. Why? Because I was the only single guy (who could still dance) available most of the time. After all, cruises are for “Newlyweds or almost dead.” Because of my dubious charm (or maybe something else I am still unaware of), after a long ocean cruise, I was always able to show up at local parties and “the club,” with several good-looking new women in tow. The other old guys jokingly would ask me again:

“Can I take a course from you in how you do it, Pete?”

Now you ask, what does this have to do with expensive drinks? Well, to tell you the truth, not much, so far. But if you will bear with me, this story does have a few ideas that you can use to

1. Get rich

2. Chase & actually catch & corral a few nice women

3. Get free stuff.

4. Find freedom in an Unfree World.

Do I have you hooked? If not, you can quit here. Do that & you will miss a good story. I promise at the end of this exciting tale, I will tell you a secret, the little-known truth I discovered about vintage wine.

Getting back to the story.

I was a bit overweight, bald, not especially great looking. At least I didn’t need a cane and have knee arthritis yet (thirty years ago). But unlike my contemporaries who were living in polluted cities with fat wives who looked like my grandma, I was doing my thing, enjoying life, traveling a few times a year between exotic places on ocean cruises. As I said — always enjoying the company of at least several beautiful women at one time.

It occurred to me that I could write that long-planned P.T. book as sort of a calling card. If it was mildly amusing and informative, maybe then I’d be invited to speak at seminars, go on free boat cruises, and do some private consulting to help old guys find happiness — for big money.

Guess what? I did finally write the book with an old guru, my sidekick, Harry Schultz. It was a big success.

I could write a few volumes on my experiences as a quasi-famous author, a lecturer who became even more attractive to women. They do love “stars.” This is what happened next: When it rains, it pours. Or to express it another way, success leads to more & more of the same until you get too famous and/or too rich. If you are also high profile, you may (and probably WILL) become a target … But I will skip the rise and fall of Peter Taradash and now tell what I learned about wine.

We now introduce into this tale, “Hans,” one of the many consulting clients I attracted with my P.T. Book. The book was all about leaving a big brother country and a boring life. I preached that it was a big mistake to grow old doing only the stuff expected & prescribed by others.

My thing was to show guys like me how to find health, happiness & youth. “How to find love and exciting new experiences in the wider world.”

He was a German billionaire we shall call “Hans Von Shickelgruber.” Or from now on just “Hans.”

Hans owned factories, hotels, ranches in the USA and Argentina. He said he read my book(s) and would be happy to plunk down my usual $20,000 fee in cash — for unlimited consulting in how to be happy. “But,” he said, “Having read in your book that you should always get stuff for free by trading something you don’t want for something you do want, I have a better offer.”

“I’m all ears!” said I.

Hans then tells me, “I inherited an exceptional, aristocratic hunting lodge in Germany that comes complete with a chauffeur, classy Mercedes Benz, cook, & great wine cellar. Would you like to have the place for your personal use for three months in exchange for your services? I will throw in $2000 a month spending money to cover your expenses while you are staying there in the Black Forest. Bring your mistresses.”

What, dear reader, do you think my answer was?

Of course, I accepted. The next thing I knew, I was ensconced in a romantic, rustic castle — the best pad I ever lived in.

On my first trip into town, we went in one of the estate cars, a Mercedes convertible. It was the sort of car you see in old newsreels of Hitler on parade. The local storekeepers and such greeted me by doffing their hats & addressing me as Wie Geht Es “Graf?” At first I thought that it could be something nasty but later learned that ”Graf” was a noble German title like “baron” or something. The title went with the place I was staying in. But there I go, off in another tangent when you probably want to hear only about my expensive drink. Or sex maybe. First a little tantalizing tidbit.

During my stay there I did manage to add a delightful Deutsche Kindchen (German Sugar Baby ) to my little “menage.” The picture below is a more recent “friend” but the Black Forest Maiden looked just as good. That is how I learned to speak decent German. But I know you want me to concentrate on the booze story … So here we continue . . .

In the Schloss (Castle) Shickelgruber, there was a large wine cellar. With a table and chairs made from old oaken barrels. It was the ideal place for sampling the swell drinks to be found there. And what drinks there were! Hundreds of bottles of wine, and cases of beer from all over the world. The caretaker told me I was the first person to go down to this wine cellar for over 25 years. I was no wine expert, but I knew that some wines in that cellar were obscenely valuable. Especially those in the locked cage. I spotted a dozen bottles of Romanee-Conti French Burgundy 1945 vintage. Romanee-Conti only produced 600 bottles in 1945. I’d heard that it was considered a highly collectible wine. The few bottles in this cellar were probably worth nearly $1000 each at the time.

And now for the wine.

The local winery in the town gave me a few hints about which of the wines in my cellar were likely to be just right for drinking. If I were to buy them in a wine store, I was told that really good German and French wines could be had for $15 to $20, and exceptional old wines $100 per bottle and more.

I mentioned the Romanee-Conti French Burgundy 1945 vintage that was in a special locked cage that the caretaker opened for me. … He said this was a rare, collector favorite wine probably worth $1000 a bottle, at the time. I asked if he had ever tried it. The answer was “Who can afford that price for a drink?”

Naturally, I was not going to quaff a $1000 bottle without permission so I called Hans … Asked him about the Romanee-Conti. He said, “I don’t drink anymore so if you want to try it, go ahead.”

Knowing I’d never again have the opportunity to drink anything that costly, I invited a friend and we ceremoniously and carefully decanted a bottle of the Romanee-Conti, swirled it around in our glasses, did the mandatory color inspection and smell tests, and then we drank.

The truth? It was OK. Even pretty good. But to my trained (but far from an expert) palate this $1000 wine was no better than a good $100 wine or maybe even some wines from the same cellar worth infinitely less. In short, after anticipating some kind of holy grail or ambrosia fit for a god, I found that the Romanee-Conti was grossly overvalued.

The next day Hans called me and asked, “How did you like the Romanee-Conti ?” I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, but I didn’t want to lie either. So, trying to be tactful, I said “It was a good wine, but IMO (In my opinion) no better than your less rare Pinot Noir, Malbec or the other Bordeaux Cabernet Sauvignon.

Han’s laughed and said “Now Peter I will teach you something: I used to buy and sell wine. And there are two kinds of wine: Drinking wine and trading wine. You never drink the trading wine — just like you never spend a $20 gold coin as $20. It is worth closer the $1,500! Collectors pay outlandish prices because they have been conned by dealers into believing that something like a date or label has some mystical value. Just between you and me, wine is worth more or less because it tastes better or less good. The label should have no value. Thus, Peter, the lesson you have just learned is

“Never drink the trading wine!”

How did I get from $1000 to $500,000?

The Romanee-Conti, in the Schloss cellar, was probably worth around $1000 a bottle at the time I drank it. I checked just now as I write this. These few remaining bottles are now (2019) supposedly selling at auctions for around (would you believe?) $500,000! Romanee-Conti has become “the” status symbol for newly rich Chinese wine collectors! I guess that proves the rule I learned from Hans:

“Never drink the trading wine!”

///PeterTaradash@gmail.com///

PS: I write mostly about how to make money, find new love, and live to old age like me. Now in my mid-80s