There are lots of wine trade magazines and I read most of them but my favourite, by far, is The Wine Merchant. It’s a niche magazine for independent wine merchants that reflects, in its articles and editorials, the knowledge, good humour and bonhomie of the wine trade.
As you’d expect, most articles in the magazine aren’t really of much interest to those not involved in the business of selling wine but, in my humble opinion, the latest issue’s light-hearted look at wine world records deserves a wider readership.
So here, with all due credit to The Wine Merchant are the magazine’s 12 tales of wine related record breaking.
Longest restaurant wine list At the end of 2008, a tot-up of wines at Restaurant Chiggeri in Luxembourg showed that 1,746 had been on sale for at least the previous 6 months.
Highest auction prize A bottle of Cheval Blanc 1947 went for £ 192,000 at Christie’s in Geneva in November 2010.
Most wine glasses in one hand: Most sommeliers pride themselves on their encyclopaedic wine knowledge and ability to find a match for chocolate. But there’s also a certain rivalry over how many glasses they can get in one hand. The reigning world champion is Philip Osenton of the UK, who in 2012 beat Reymond Adina’s record of 39, which had stood since 2007.
Biggest collective uncorking The record for the most people taking the corks out of bottles at the same time was set as recently as July, in Poschiavo in Switzerland, where 1,054 got together to perform the feat for charity.
Most valuable contribution to gravy As part of breaking the record for the most expensive meat pie, the Fence Gate Inn near Burnley served a jus made with two bottles of Mouton-Rothschild 1982 (current cost is £ 1,000 per bottle). The pie also contained wagyu beef, matsutake and bluefoot mushrooms, winter black truffles and pastry made with gold.
Biggest wine tasting Pub chain Wetherspoons is the surprising holder of this record, with over 17,000 people taking part in simultaneous tastings in 409 pubs. For the record, the wines were Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, White Zinfandel and Merlot.
Oldest selling white wine In 2011, a bottle of Chateau d’Yquem 1811 was sold to a wine bar owner in Indonesia for £ 75,000.
Fastest bottle opener Using a non-levered T-handle corkscrew, Frenchman, Alain Dorotte, unbunged 13 bottles in a minute in 2001.
Biggest bottle Given the relatively low profile of its wine industry, the Swiss are prolific in setting wine records. Andre Vogel created a 13-foot-plus bottle for the opening of his American off road car showrooms in Lyssach last year.
Biggest Cellar Almost 2 million bottles are stored in the former limestone mines in the Moldovan town of Milestii Mici. It sounds a lot but they’ve barely scratched the surface as its corridors and galleries actually extend for 120 miles.
Longest distance for cork spitting American Ashrita Furman went to Phuket in Thailand to have a go at the record for projecting a Champagne cork as far as possible from the mouth. Apparently, it’s something to do with air pressure. Anyway, he set the benchmark for doing something most people probably never dream of with a distance of 8.55 metres or just over 28 feet in old money
Most expensive haircut Bored with her home town’s Leaning Tower and disillusioned with her country’s hairdressers, Beverley Lateo of Pisa in Italy flew to London to pay £ 8,000 for a shampoo set, Champagne lunch and limousine ride back to the airport (but no cup of tea).