Party for Poe: The 2013 Cask of Amontillado Wine Tasting Among the Bones

It's not A Cask of Amontillado party without
Fortunato and Montresor.
March 19, 2013 — The grave of Edgar Allan Poe has become one of my more oft-visited oddities, up there with the heady wonders of Sleepy Hollow, the bedeviling atmosphere of Salem, and anything with the word “Smithsonian” somewhere in its name.

Saturday, I returned to my home state of Maryland and found myself once again above his bones in Baltimore. However, this time it was to pay my respects in a whole new way…by drinking wine labeled with his face, watching Goth belly dancers, and touring dusty crypts.

The event was called the 2013 Cask of Amontillado Wine Tasting Among the Bones. It was held in Westminster Hall, the ex-church that gives verticality to the burial ground where Poe is interred. The event was thrown by these guys to raise funds for the Poe House, the place where Poe lived and which has been a museum dedicated to him for decades. Due to budget problems, it’s currently closed to visitors, but will hopefully open again at the end of the year.

Besides performances that included music, dance, and—of course—recitations of The Raven, the event featured Poe-inspired art, artifacts such as a piece of Poe’s coffin and a lock of his wife’s hair, and Poe-themed merchandise. The best part, though, is that we got to hang out with a bunch of like-minded Poe admirers, many in Venetian masks according to the theme of the party, just a few dozen feet from where the remains lay of the man who was the “common spring” for our passion.

It was also somehow my first time venturing into the crypts beneath Westminster Hall, a fascinating place that at one time was open air before the building was constructed atop of it some 160 years ago. But my foray there is a story for another day.

While I was in Baltimore, I also revisited some old Poe-related haunts and dropped by a few that were new to me, all of which, like the crypts, will get a full OTIS treatement at some other point.

Right now I just wanted to show you a bit of my Saturday.

Selling a limited-edition Poe-themed wine...

And, of course, I bought a bottle for
some future celebration...

The only church in the world with a quote from
Vincent Price on its walls. Here's a cool pic of his visit.

An excellent, literary rendition of The Raven by
Tony Tsendeas. You can tell he's playing Poe
because of his mustache.

In the foreground, one of the previous medallions that
adorned Poe's grave. In the background, some of the
bottles of cognac left by the sorely missed Poe Toaster.

A child's ice casket, used to preserve
the body before burials.

Annabel Lee Tavern.

Present day...

A decade ago. At least Poe has aged well...


  1. So, how was the Amontillado?

    It's a variety of sherry, a fortified wine, btw. A friend who loved sherries let me try some. I thought it was lighter than the cream sherry my mother used to tipple when she wasn't feeling well. (Which was often, now that I think of it.) It was still sweet, however, almost raisin-like.

  2. Jeff Jerome, Curator Emeritus, formerly with the Poe House in Baltimore and Mark Redfield produce the wine tasting event mentioned in this story.