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Fancy a flagon of Safari Burgundy from South Africa or a “very full” Algerian Burgundy? Maybe a Spanish Sauternes is more your tipple? The most expensive still wine on the list is a Berncasteler Estate Wine, 1955 vintage yours for 18/6 a full bottle. That’s 18/6 in old money, that, coupled with the ’55 vintage gives an indication of the age of this Christmas price list from now defunct Unwins.

These two lists were discovered many moons ago in the shop, an Unwins offie, which he managed. They were lining a bottom of a box at the back of a cupboard if memory recalls correctly. Said friend gave me copies and what a fascinating little slice of wine history they are.

One list is a Christmas list the other seems to come from a year or two later but both are of the similar design. The non-Christmas list gives a later vintage of the Berncasteler; the ’57 now available for 18/0. Now I’m unsure if these are the full product range of the merchant but what is interesting is the domination of sherry, sherry-style (South African in origin), port wines and port-style wines (both South African and Australian) and Madeira. The full gamut of sherry styles are listed – pale, golden, ‘palido’, brown, golden oloroso, fino, manzanilla, amontillado, walnut brown (isn’t that a brand?) and oloroso cream. The latter the most expensive at 21/0 the rough equivalent to £18 today.

Deinhard Liebfraumilch 1957 at 14/6 is the same price as a Beaune 1953, producer unlisted. That 14/6 converts to about £12.60 today. British wines, Chanticleer or Tattoo (both brands I believe), are available in something called a ‘Large Oval’. Interesting too, that nearly all the wines listed are available in both bottle and half bottle sizes. A Grand Cru Chablis 1955 would set you back 13/6 (£11.76) for a bottle or 7/3 (£6.30) for a half.

[The Pound/shilling conversions for this vintage wine list were undertaken via a facility at The National Archives]


  1. Rob H says:

    Hello Mr. B

    As far as I remember they were uncovered by the lady down the street who found them in the back of a book in one of the secondhand bookshops in town (the posh one on Friday St I think) and then dropped them in for me.

    I think it was the lady who ran a shop on the corner of Station Rd who died from Lung Cancer a fair few years ago. Very nice of her.

    Although my memory could be warped and your account may well be correct!

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