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Westchester Restaurateur Recalls Wine Merchant's Expensive Break

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WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- A famous wine merchant who famously broke a bottle of 1787 Château Margaux that reportedly once belonged to Thomas Jefferson died on Thursday, April 30, in New York.

William Sokolin, 85, died at his Manhattan apartment. He was attending a black-tie dinner in April of 1989 when he broke the bottle, which had an estimated worth of more than $500,000. According to a New York Times story, several bystanders, including restaurateur Julian Niccolini of Pound Ridge, dipped their fingers in the broken wine bottle. Niccolini, who co-owns the Four Seasons, deemed the wine "unpalatable, concluding that it had deteriorated,'' according to the Times story.

Sokolin broke the bottle when he accidentally bumped into a tray table and put two holes in the bottle. The wine spilled on the carpet. The wine had been been found in a Paris cellar in 1985 and was was inscribed with the initials Th.J., prompting the rumored relationship to Jefferson.

Click here to read the New York Times obituary on Sokolin. Click here to read a People magazine story on his historic breaking of the wine bottle.

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