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Does Netflix drama Bodies secretly predict the future of wine?

Eagle-eyed viewers of hit drama Bodies may have spotted that the nail-biting series offers some telling predictions about where the wine industry will be in 30 years time.

Anyone who has binge-watched Bodies, starring Stephen Graham, will be familiar with the phrase: “Know you are loved”.

However, the edge-of-your-seat drama can also be seen to convey subliminal love to the wine trade by hinting at its longevity, despite the many challenges it faces at present.

While climate change has led to some stark projections for wine producing regions, episode four of Bodies offers a possible blueprint for what wine producers should focus on if they want to be around for decades to come.

The gripping television series and Netflix fan favourite explores four identical dead bodies that turn up in the same location (Longharvest Lane in Whitechapel, London), with matching injuries in 1890, 1941, 2023 and 2058.

Discovered by four police inspectors across the different time periods, they must each get to the bottom of the mystery, within their own era, of why the same victim keeps turning up dead.

One scene set in 2058 shows characters Iris Maplewood and Gabriel Defoe enjoying a bottle of wine together while policewoman Maplewood harbours Defoe in her futuristic flat, with breathtaking views of London’s Tower Bridge.

“It’s French and organic, and soon we might all be dead,” says Defoe persuasively when opening the bottle.

Given that France has just experienced one of its most troubling harvests yet, with a helpline set up to counsel traumatised growers hit by mildew, the TV programme’s choice of wine appears to be a show of confidence in the French wine industry. A nod that says, “you can survive the storm”.

Earlier this year, a statement by the Chamber of Agriculture Gironde issued a prognosis of the 2023 harvest, saying that “no one had been spared” and that some “winegrowers have lost everything already.” The trade body added that it had “never seen anything like this.”

Picture credit: Netflix

Message in a bottle

The bottle of wine that Maplewood and Defoe share in episode four of Bodies is made from paper rather than glass, implying that the sustainable packaging route already being explored today by brands such as Avallen and When in Rome may become the norm in the future.

Leading paper bottle manufacturer Frugalpac revealed it was approached by Moonage Pictures, the production team for Bodies, in July 2022 after the team had seen media coverage of the paper bottles, which are now used by more than 35 drinks brands around the world.

Frugalpac created two bottles specifically for the scene, with the vintages listed on the label looking far ahead into the future: a Château Montcasse Cabernet Sauvignon 2050, and a Château Serephinelle Merlot 2039 Reserve.

Earlier this year, db reported that Queen Camilla had been presented with a ‘Cardbordeaux’ bottle of wine during a royal visit to France.

Frugalpac CEO Malcolm Waugh proffered the bottle, which was made from 94% recycled cardboard, and is supposedly five times lighter than a traditional glass bottle.

Furthermore, Italian wine producer Cantina Goccia, the first drinks brand to release wine in a paper bottle, opened a dedicated filling service in January 2023 to help other wine producers switch from glass to paper.

Meanwhile, other producers are choosing to forgo glass in favour of housing their wine in plastic bottles.

The Wine Society, for example, has put flat plastic bottles to the test in its pursuit of “low-carbon packaging.”

External factors

As well as suggesting that an organic approach and alternative packaging strategy could benefit producers, in Bodies fictional character Gabriel Defoe also suggests that our experience of enjoying a glass of wine is influenced by a number of external factors, many of which are outside of our control.

He reels off a long list to Maplewood:

“Your prior relationship to alcohol, your parents relationship to alcohol, genetically, the tastebuds on your tongue, the specific make-up and responsiveness that makes this wine taste sumptuous to you right now in this moment; the temperature of the room, the mood you’re in when you drink it, the person you drink it with. My point is, free will does not exist. It’s an illusion and a pleasant one.”


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