Historic wine list highlights high price of sparkling Moselle

Following yesterday’s story on the discovery of a wine list from 1966, Sue Glasgow sent us a much older list which highlights how much tastes and prices have changed, particularly for German wines.

wine list close up from Oruba

Wines on offer over dinner on RMS Oruba

Glasgow, who heads up Spear Communications, which represents Taylor’s Port, Dourthe, Clos de los Siete and Bordeaux Grands Crus in the UK, found a wine list from 1909 in an old family photograph album.

The list (pictured left) is dated 21 November 1909 and comes from the back of a menu for a dinner on the RMS Oruba which sailed to and from the West Indies.

Among the wines, spirits and cigars featured on the list is a bottle of 1888 Château d’Yquem for 5 shillings, the same price as Château Latour, which is marginally cheaper than Margaux.

wine list from Sue

The full list for the Diner d’Adieu on RMS Oruba

As for Champagne, Moët, Pommery, Lanson and Heidsieck were all priced at 12 shillings, while Ayala and Mumm were a touch cheaper at 10 shillings.

It’s interesting to note the high prices of Hock and “Moselle”, while the most expensive wine on the list, with exactly the same price as Margaux, is sparkling Moselle ­– a wine style once popular enough to inspire a song by the same name, which can be listened to here.

Glasgow, who photographed the wine list and sent it to db, spoke to her mother about the find, who said that the voyage was taken by her grandfather, William Fogarty, who was accompanied by his wife, Ann.

The family, who are Irish, owned a shop called Fogarty’s in Bridgetown, Barbados, which was considered “the Harrods of the West Indies”.

The ship, the R.M.S.P. Oruba (pictured below) was owned by the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company and sailed on 21 November 1909, when this dinner took place, which was called the Diner d’Adieu.


A postcard depicting Oruba from http://monkbarns.wordpress.com/tag/rms-oruba/

One Response to “Historic wine list highlights high price of sparkling Moselle”

  1. Michael Dable says:

    Fascinating piece of history you give us Sue – thank you. Hock and Moselle commanded a higher price than top Bordeaux wines from the the middle of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th, even after the Bordeaux classification at the great exhibition. Wars and wine writers have influenced some dramatic changes. An examination of 1950 wine imports to Britain will illustrate this:- France 1,062,000 gallons – Portugal 1,956,000 gallons – Spain 2,562,000 gallons – Australia 625,000 gallons – South Africa 1,270,000 gallons.
    Perhaps the most fascinating of all – R.M.S. Oruba. What price Stalin’s rout of Hitler’s precious army from Russia without the incredible support of the magnificent Royal Mail Fleet out of Hull; treacherous seas, frightening submarine and air attacks, to fuel Russia via Archangle with food and weapons.

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