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I heard on the news today that 12 French wine makers had been arrested for taking some entirely unremarkable red wine and putting a label for more expensive Pinot Noir on the bottles, then packing them up and selling them to the United States. Evidently, it had been going on for some time and the 12 conspirators made quite a tidy profit. Wine fraud. Tsk, tsk. Naughty little wine guys. What were they thinking? Since they only pulled their little con with wine they sent to the United States, I can guess what they were thinking. They were thinking that America is full of wine philistines who love to yammer about knowing wine when in actuality, they wouldn't know Pinot from beano. The fact that they got away with it for so long is rather powerful evidence that they were right.
I don't drink but rarely, I can't recall having even a glass of wine with dinner in 2 or 3 years and I've never had a beer in my life. Forget hard liquor – just pass the open bottle under my nose and I'll pass out for an hour. I like nice wine and I have had some very good ones over the years, some I have enjoyed and some didn't thrill me. I don't pretend to know a lot about wine and I have never cared to pursue an interest in fine wines. It always seemed like a waste of time for someone who couldn't drink. I have known a lot of people who considered themselves quite the wine aficionados, learning all the rituals and jargon that is supposed to prove just how refined, continental, and experienced they are. It never impressed me much. I respect people who know fine wines, but I can't stand posturing. I'll confess, I can be petty, too. When I heard the news report I got a lovely visual of some of the more pretentious people I have known standing around, swirling their Pinot Noir in their glasses, inhaling the bouquet, and saying things like, “...a robust yet smooth year, with just the right hint of piquant bite to be mysterious,” (They say stuff like that), little realizing that they are actually drinking some cheap swill from Chateau de Tricksy. I couldn't help it – I laughed myself silly. So sue me.
In the same vein, I read not too long ago, that all that expensive imported Virgin Olive Oil we have all been buying for years is less olive than a bunch of other oils, including canola oil, hazelnut oil, and some other oils that come from things I've never even heard of. Even most of the really expensive olive oils are not even refined and certainly not from the first press of the olives. They tested one brand of oil that costs over $50 a bottle only to discover that it had canola oil in it and the olive oil that was in there was taken from the 3rd press of olives and is technically considered waste. You might ask how this can happen and you might wonder why no one caught it years ago. It seems that there are no regulations that exist for the testing and control of imported olive oil. That would explain it.
I imagine that French wine and imported olive oil from Spain are not the only high priced products that are manipulated in order to make a huge and unethical profit. Why should wine and olive oil producers be any different than bankers, hedge fund brokers, and snake oil salesmen? They aren't. The simple fact of the matter is that profit is all, any wretched, sneaky, underhanded, manipulative thing that can be done will be done, and there's no fool like a fool with extra cash who is trying too hard. So all you folks out there at your dinner parties, cooking your shrimp stirfrys in $80 imported olive oil while sipping your pricey Pinot Noir – beware, you may be sautéing your fish in canola oil and drinking wine aged in a bathtub. Just remember what PT Barnum said a long time ago...there's a sucker born every minute and some of them drink French wine and dip their specialty breads in basil and olive oil.
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