The manifestly evil terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden did not, apparently, have a wine cellar in his Pakistan compound. That makes him the first international evil genius whose tacky, overpriced mansion did not include a surprising cache of tacky, overpriced wines.
For example, Saddam Hussein’s god-awful palaces reportedly contained stockpiles of Mateus rosé. Mateus, for those of you who have never vomited in the back seat of a station wagon, is a wine from the 1970s that was notable primarily for its monotone advertising jingle: “Ho ho, hey hey. Mateau rose-ayayayayaya…” Clearly, Hussein’s similarity to a used car salesman on the make for lonely middle-aged women did not stop with his moustache.
North Korean beloved leader Kim Jong-Il bought the entire 2009 vintage of Latour’s second wine, a fairly typical combination of megalomania and middlebrow settling.
But my favorite is — or rather, was – Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. A knuckle-dragging oaf, in the aftermath of World War II Ceausescu ended up with his own country the way your elderly uncle ended up with a Nazi flag. “I think I found it in a barn or something and never really knew what to do with it.” Ceausescu styled himself a connoisseur of fine wines. He amassed a cellar of more than 150,000 bottles. After old Nicolae “left to pursue other opportunities,” the fledgling Romanian republic imagined the wine would raise a lot of money at auction. Yeah, well: when the cream of that cellar sold a few months later, the 1,000 bottle lot brought-in barely $17 a bottle.
Ceausescu reportedly preferred Merlot, by the way.