Top 10 wine scandals17th August, 2011 by Rupert Millar
Following the antifreeze scandal on a more serious note, in 1986 a fraudulent winemaker in Italy mixed methanol into his wine with tragic results.
Twenty-three people died and over 90 were hospitalised after being poisoned with the wood alcohol, which was used to increase the alcohol content in what had been a rather thin product.
The wine affected was Odore Barbera and the dose of 5.7% far exceeded the legally permitted limits of just 0.3%.
Eight people died initially and 30 were hospitalised apparently from one batch, but the scandal spread with another hospitalisation when a woman drank from a bottle of Fraris Dolcetto del Piemonte, which was tainted with methyl alcohol.
The initial culprits, identified by police as distributor Giovanni Cirvegna and his son Daniele, were soon charged with multiple accounts of manslaughter.
As the scandal threatened to rock the $953 million Italian wine industry, the government strove to contain it.
Three-hundred labels, mostly low-grade, were listed as suspect and 12 growers were arrested on charges of manslaughter, grievous bodily harm or illegal adulteration of food.
Quite a lot of Italian wine was seized in France and West Germany and destroyed and Denmark even enforced a ban on all Italian-made drinks after discovering that a large consignment of vermouth was similarly tainted.
Like Austria though, the Italian industry used the episode to tighten up its act and enforce much stricter control measures.