Seven of the world’s biggest wine disasters
The term ‘wine disaster’ likely brings to mind images of a corked bottle or clumsy spill on a cream carpet, but for those involved in the following misadventures their experiences were far more calamitous – not to mention eye-wateringly expensive.
1. The $1 million drop
A warehouse operator had a very difficult call to make back in 2011 when a forklift mishap resulted in the loss of more than AU$1.07 million worth of premium wine. Over 460 cases of 2010 Mollydooker Velvet Glove Shiraz were smashed while being loaded for export to the US – a third of the winery’s annual production. Fortunately, the wine was fully insured.
2. The world’s most expensive puddle
Manhattan wine merchant William Sokolin had New York’s high society aghast back in 1989 when he accidentally dropped a bottle of 1787 Chateau Margaux at a $250-per-person black tie Bordeaux dinner. The bottle – valued at more than $500,000 – was discovered behind a cellar wall in Paris in 1985 and is thought to have belonged to Thomas Jefferson. Amazingly, the bottle didn’t shatter but the wine poured out nonetheless, resulting in what People magazine called ‘the world’s most expensive puddle’.
3. The $100 million arson attack
Sadly, California is no stranger to fires, but due to the increasing impact of climate change most come about accidentally these days. This wasn’t the case back in 2005, though, when an act of arson led to a massive warehouse fire resulting in the loss of six million bottles of wine worth some $100 million. The arsonist, Mark Anderson, was arrested two years later, having allegedly started the fire to cover up embezzlement.
4. The kitchen tap mishap
Residents in the northern Italian town of Castelvetro got a surprise in March this year when they turned on their kitchen taps and found a stream of wine instead of water. This wasn’t some kind of Biblical miracle, though. Instead, a faulty valve at the nearby Cantina Settecani winery was responsible for the leakage of some 1,000 litres of Lambrusco into the waterways. In the midst of COVID’s onset in the region residents saw the funny side of the incident, with the town’s deputy mayor tweeting “wine is always the answer”.
5. The red rivers of Sonoma
One of Sonoma’s biggest rivers had an unusual makeover in January this year thanks to a massive Cabernet Sauvignon spill. More than 97,000 gallons of the wine – enough to fill eight large tanker trucks – spilled at the Rodney Strong Vineyards in Healdsburg, eventually making its way into the coincidentally-named Russian River and turning it red.
6. The Spanish street running red with… wine
The internet looked on in horror last month when a clip emerged showing a river of wine bursting forth from a blown-out tank in Spain. The quick-thinking camera person managed to capture the tidal wave of wine from Villamalea’s Bodegas Vitivinos as it poured through nearby streets, engulfing the property’s equipment. Some 60,000 bottles’ worth of wine was spilled, but fortunately for the 50-year-old winery and its annual production of around five million bottles this didn’t represent too great a loss.
7. The £4,500 bottle blunder
Less of a disaster and more of a mortifying mistake, this one. Lucky diners at Manchester’s Hawksmoor restaurant got a shock last year when it emerged they’d been served a £4,500 bottle of 2001 Chateau le Pin instead of the £260 bottle of 2001 Chateau Pichon Longueville Contesse de Lalande they’d actually ordered. Fortunately for the member of staff who made the error, the restaurant’s manager publicly tweeted, “Chin up! One-off mistakes happen and we love you anyway.” Not everyone would be so forgiving!