An 18th-century letter for auction reveals how Irish wine merchant duped British
A letter up for auction at Sotheby's in
shows an 18th-century Irish wine merchant duped the British authorities in Dublin Castle
by giving them "vile plonk" instead of high-quality . Burgundy
The letter, which is written by an archbishop to the secretary of a lord lieutenant, is part of a collection of correspondence which reveals what the British administration came up against while trying to govern
According to the Irish Times, in the summer of 1751,
officials were preparing for the arrival from London of Lionel Cranfield
Sackville, the duke of Dorset and the newly-appointed lord lieutenant of . Ireland
Church of Ireland
Archbishop of Armagh, George Stone, was sent to check out the “lodgings” in
for the duke and the wine cellar. Dublin Castle
Stone arranged a wine tasting and discovered that the castle had been duped by a dodgy merchant. The wine supplied was “a vile infamous mixture” and “fundamentally bad." The archbishop determined that the castle had been “scandalously abused."
Stone described the contents of bottles “sealed with black wax, and falsely and impudently called Vin de Beaune” as “the worst, and is, indeed, as bad as the worst tavern could afford."
He discovered that “the four barrels of
are almost equally bad” and was “sure that no person will ever drink a second
glass of either”. Burgundy
He wasn't the only one who tasted the wine. He invited a select group of “eight or nine” to the tasting which turned into a “melancholy operation."
The archbishop wrote to the lord lieutenant’s secretary to tell “his grace” the “disagreeable news."
He said: “I am very apt to conclude the whole business has been dishonestly transacted. I am confident that not a drop of the wine, so-called, was ever in the
”. province of Burgundy
The name of the fraudulent
wine merchant who concocted the fraud was not recorded. Dublin
The letters will be sold in an auction of rare books and manuscripts at Sotheby’s on July 10th.