I recently picked up the book, The Billionaire’s Vinegar, by Benjamin Wallace. This book is a romp through the intense world of high-society, elite wine circles and its dark underbelly: wine fakery. Although I already knew the book’s punch line, it exposed me to something that I wasn’t familiar with; namely, the role Thomas Jefferson played as a founder of the American wine industry. I decided I wanted to know more about this multi-talented Founding Father. [Read more…]
I’m excited to share a guest blog with you today. Jennifer Hansen is Outreach Coordinator for Mocavo.com, one of the world’s largest free online family research engines, helping people discover their family history. Mocavo is partial to the odd glass of vino. So they decided to use their considerable search power to delve into wine history. The result is this wonderful infographic on how phylloxera almost caused us to lose wine forever! (A great reason to savor every last sumptuous sip!) [Read more…]
Last week, I talked about modern wine fraud. Well, it turns out that wine fraud has been around for a long time. Pliny the Elder, a Roman naval officer and scientist who famously died in A.D. 79 on the waters just outside of Pompeii during the famous Vesuvian eruption, is quoted as lamenting wine fraud even in his day. Falernian wine at the time was one of the most coveted Italian wines (sadly no longer in existence), and Pliny is thought to have voiced irritation that even the most affluent nobles couldn’t be sure that they were buying the real deal.
Wine fraud in some form or another has been around forever. Sometimes more or less benign, and sometimes downright dangerous to the consumer, wine fraud has a history of its own. [Read more…]
Last year, I ran a few blog posts about the problem of wine counterfeiting. Fake wines have been in the news again recently, due to the culmination of some pretty high profile lawsuits against a Chinese-Indonesian fraudster, Rudy Kurniawan, and a German, Hardy Rodenstock.
Fake wine artists have scammed William Koch, billionaire brother to the famous Kochs, and less affluent purchasers alike, but it was largely due to Koch’s deep pockets that he was able to pursue vindication and bring the scope of the problem to light.
Fake wine or wine fraud, basically put, is when scam artists imitate the look and feel of a wine and pass it off as something it is not. [Read more…]
As I highlighted last week in “The Dark Years of Prohibition,” a dark cloud hung over the wine, beer and alcohol industry from 1920 to 1933, when “The Noble Experiment” of the Prohibition was in effect.
The Volstead Act outlined the finer points of the Prohibition, defining alcohol as “beer, wine, or other intoxicating malt or vinous liquors” of 0.5% or more alcohol by volume. Not only were the evil “vinous” liquors under attack, also the mechanisms by which such spirits were manufactured were considered illegal, as were any means of transporting said alcohol. Didn’t seem to leave much wiggle room, you’d say? [Read more…]