From Asia’s obsession with Bordeaux to the complex challenges in identifying counterfeit wines, our pick of wine-focused documentaries and long-form articles will keep you busy during these uncertain times.
1. Why it’s so hard to tell if a $100,000 bottle of wine is fake
Wine has been the subject of fraud for as long as mankind has ascribed it value. It’s a crime that happens daily around the world, although some cases – that of Rudy Kurniawan, for example – are better known than others. This article dives deep on the history of the illegal practice and, critically, what makes it so hard to spot.
Read it here: Livemint.com
2. The race is on to stop the climate crisis claiming your favourite wine
Grapes that once thrived are now struggling, putting Merlot and Cabernet at risk. Saving them could mean rethinking what goes into the world's favourite wines. This interesting piece takes a wide look at the measures the industry is racing to adopt before the environmental crisis changes it forever.
Read it here: Wired.co.uk
3. The 8,000 year effort to transport wine around the world
Getting wine safely from A to B is no longer the herculean effort it once was, but getting to this stage of temperature-controlled logistics and meticulous transport management has only been achieved with thousands of years of trial and error. This absorbing long-read explores the many ways humans have transported wine over land and across oceans throughout the millennia.
Read it here: Vinepair.com
Wine is an elixir, a miracle-worker and shapeshifter – no wonder even the most secular of us hold it sacred still. This engaging article considers the many fascinating historical, theological and social factors that play such a vital role in the pagan rituals of modern winemaking.
Read it here: Aeon.co
5. Has wine gone bad?
Natural wine advocates say everything about the modern industry is ethically, ecologically and aesthetically wrong – and have triggered the biggest split in the wine world for a generation. This thought-provoking deep dive considers both sides of the argument and explores what’s in store for winemaking in the future.
Read it here: theguardian.com
6. Sour Grapes (2016)
The now infamous Rudy Kurniawan will probably go down in history as the most ambitious wine fraudster in history, having made millions of pounds selling counterfeit bottles through top auction houses. The scale of his operations was frankly staggering, and this addictive documentary reveals both the almost-unbelievable scope of his illegal endeavours as well as the darker side of the wine industry.
Watch it on Netflix
7. Somm: Into the Bottle (2013)
The follow-up to 2012’s Somm, this documentary focuses more on the wines loved by sommeliers rather than the journeys of the sommeliers themselves, as was the case with its predecessor. Perfect for hardcore wine aficionados, this film is probably the closest most of us will ever get to seeing super rare wines (think 1969 Dom Ruinart and 1966 Mondavi) opened and tasted in real life.
Watch it on Amazon Prime
8. Decanted (2016)
Ever toyed with the romantic notion of starting your own winery? This eye-opening document might give you pause for thought. Following the creation of a new winery in California, Decanted reveals the often soul-destroying effort that goes into starting a fledging business in a highly competitive industry, and the depth of the dreams of those determined to make it work.
Watch it on Amazon Prime
9. Mondovino (2004)
If you like your documentaries hard-hitting and damning, Mondovino is a must-watch. Spanning five continents, the film thrusts the wine industry’s biggest players into the spotlight, questioning the impact of globalisation on producers around the world. This is also your opportunity to see some rare interviews with wine critic Robert Parker and renowned consultant Michel Rolland.
Get it on Amazon
10. Red Obsession (2013)
Narrated by Russell Crowe, this documentary will take you on an extraordinary journey from Bordeaux to Beijing, from the passion and art of the vineyard to the notorious counterfeit wine markets of the Far East and into the homes of billionaire collectors. Bordeaux faces unprecedented demand from Asia’s enormous market – what will this mean for the wine industry in the long run?
Rent it on Amazon Prime