Sunday, May 3, 2015

William Sokolin, Wine Seller Who Broke Famed Bottle

Do be careful.

William Sokolin holding the bottle broken at the Four Seasons in 1989. It was insured. Credit William E. Sauro/The New York Times
The slightest mishap can cause someone to cry over their beer, or shed tears over spilled milk, but on April 23, 1989, at the Four Seasons restaurant in Manhattan, nobody could have blamed William Sokolin if he had sobbed over a broken bottle of wine.

Not just any bottle, even by Four Seasons standards, where a double magnum of Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, St. Julien 2008 now goes for $2,700. The bottle Mr. Sokolin famously broke that night was a 1787 Château Margaux, which had been found in a Paris cellar in 1985 and was said to have belonged to Thomas Jefferson. (It was inscribed with the initials Th.J.) Mr. Sokolin had been hoping to sell it for $519,750.

A wine merchant for more than a half-century, Mr. Sokolin died of heart failure at 85 on Tuesday at his home in Manhattan, his son, David, said.

He was born on April 25, 1930, the son of David Sokolin, who opened a liquor store on Madison Avenue after Prohibition ended (and was said to have been granted New York State license No. 4), and the former Lillian Isacoff.

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