Pawned wine stored in vault

Pawnshops in Paris are branching out. In addition to the usual jewelry and family heirlooms, the Credit Municipal de Paris, as reported by, has started offering loans against wine.

Oenophiles who find themselves in a credit crunch can be assured their vintage collection will be stored carefully in the bank’s cellars, where there is a natural 80 percent humidity and a temperature of between 53 and 55 degrees. There is space for 90,000 bottles to be kept until their owners’ cash flow is back under control.

“We’ve been amazed by the response,” said Vincent Vogt, communications director for the bank, who confirmed to the Web site that the most valuable bottle pawned so far is estimated to be worth $8,000: a 1985 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti. The minimum value wine allowed for pawning is $100, with a loan value of 50 percent. Any wine not redeemed is sold at auction.

“The idea of pawning your wine is horrifying to me,” said Neil Ingram, Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival’s sommelier of the year and co-owner of Boneta restaurant in Vancouver, B.C. “It would be like pawning your kids.”

Though the bank’s cellars could use more humidity, Ingram said, the conditions sound “fair.” He was more concerned about the veracity of the wine: “I would hope they have someone on staff to authenticate what the wine is and its value,” he said. “The trade in fake wine around the world right now is rampant.”

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