illustration of Fortunato standing in motley behind a mostly completed brick wall with a skull superimposed on the wall where his face should be

The Cask of Amontillado

by Edgar Allan Poe
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What does Montresor mean when he says, “In painting and gemmary, Fortunato, like his countrymen, was a quack—but in the matter of the old wines he was sincere”?

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This means that Fortunato, like his fellow countrymen, doesn't know what he's taking about when it comes to painting and precious gems. He's a quack—a word often used to describe someone pretending to be a doctor but which in general can apply to anyone who pretends to have specialized knowledge...

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This means that Fortunato, like his fellow countrymen, doesn't know what he's taking about when it comes to painting and precious gems. He's a quack—a word often used to describe someone pretending to be a doctor but which in general can apply to anyone who pretends to have specialized knowledge in something.

Though a quack when it comes to painting and gemmary, Fortunato certainly knows his stuff when it comes to wine, as Montresor readily admits. This is important, because it is Fortunato's proud reputation as a connoisseur of fine wines that enables Montresor to lure him down into the catacombs. Montresor knows that Fortunato will not pass up this golden opportunity to show off his extensive knowledge of the pleasures of the grape and taste a drop of rare vintage Amontillado in the bargain.

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