Monday, December 27, 2021

Dan Berger: Authenticity

 When we buy a bottle of a famed wine, we take it on faith that it's genuine and not a fake.

    In fact, fake wine is precisely why corks began to be branded with the name of a winery as well as the vintage date.
    It is also why most reputable wineries still use branded corks. When you order a bottle of wine in a restaurant and the waiter hands you the cork, the main reason is so you can inspect it and see if the brand is the same as the one on the label.

    If you order a bottle of Chateau Palmer and the cork is blank, for example, that alone is sufficient grounds for rejecting the wine.

    (Very inexpensive wines often are sold with blank corks that have no brands.)

    Is wine fraud rampant here? No, it's almost nonexistent. But it happens elsewhere, and often enough that it has spawned lots of discussion and several books. It often takes the form of poor-quality wine with a falsified label that indicates it's a great wine.

    And fraudulent wine practices have led to scandals (and, rarely, even deaths). Decades ago, antifreeze was used in some Austrian wine. Another time, some wine in Italy was found to have been adulterated. In both cases, the wines were sold only locally and never made it to the United States.

    One famed scandal in Burgundy involved a producer bottling wines of two different quality levels in identically labeled bottles. He was caught.

1    Wine scandals take many forms and have existed for hundreds of years. The assumption by most fraudsters is that only experts can tell a great wine from an impostor. And wine fraud flourishes to this day. There have been numerous books on the subject.

    The first major book explaining wine fraud was "The Winemasters" by Nicholas Faith (1978), a terrific history of the French wine trade. That was followed by "Wine Scandal" by Fritz Hallgarten (1986), "Wine Snobbery" by Andrew Barr (1988), and "Is This the Wine You Ordered, Sir?" by Christopher Fielden (1989). 

    What's interesting is that all the writers above are European. There are few books on American wine fraud because so little of it exists -- or has been uncovered. Over the decades, there have been only a handful of trivial "wine scandals" in this country. 

    Even author Ellen Hawkes, who wrote an unauthorized biography of Ernest and Julio Gallo ("Blood and Wine," 1993) never hinted at winemaking chicanery, even though her book did a lot of veneer-stripping.

    There are many reasons the California wine industry is so free of taint. One that's not well known is the cooperative relationship between wineries and the government agency that regulates them, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).

    TTB gets a lot of barbs from winemakers, but most say they work closely with TTB inspectors and follow the rules. To do otherwise threatens their livelihoods. Licenses to operate are at stake.

    Moreover, inspectors generally are fair-minded, not the ogres some make them out to be.

    In Europe, most wine scandals are technical violations of complex regulations that mandate, among other things, how much fruit may grow in a plot of land or how long a bottle of wine must remain in the cellar before it can be sold.

    Indeed, for the last several years many European wine regions have been rewriting their wine regulations to address grievances that producers or trade groups say are hamstringing them. Some of the violations are simply because producers misread the new regulations.

    By contrast, U.S. wine regulations are far simpler and thus much easier to follow. 

    To find out more about Dan Berger and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at



Anonymous said...

I'm glad to hear that wine fraud is rare in the US. An examination of olive oil fraud would bear fruit, too.

Anonymous said...

There is zero assurance that the wine you purchase is legit.

Nor do we know, with certainty, that our toilet paper is recycled...and we can only HOPE that it's not.

There's also a famous jeweler in these parts who wants us to believe that his commercials are truthful and that he has a roof leak twice a year, every year.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS