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“Hedonism and Claret”,  from The Economist <link>. It’s a good read.

When Britain made peace with France in 1713, claret became more accessible and the wine trade flourished. Claret was pricey but rich Londoners, who were also by then big spenders on theatres, spas and music produced by fashionable immigrants, such as Handel, consumed conspicuous quantities. Sir Robert Walpole, Britain’s first prime minister, used navy ships to smuggle his favourite wines from France. The most expensive one he bought was old burgundy, but that—as now—was available only in tiny quantities. So he relied largely on claret, buying four hogsheads of 24 dozen bottles of Margaux and one hogshead of Lafite every three months. In a single year his wine bill amounted to over £1,200 (£100,000 today).

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