History: the wine-methanol crisis of 1986   Leave a comment

The wine-methanol crisis of 1986 is certainly the most serious of all modern Italian alimentary scandals and proved catastrophic for both Italian wine producers and for Italian wine consumers.

By 1986 a series of wine makers across northern and central Italy had begun to include methanol (illegally) in their wines to increase their wine’s alcohol content. However, the company that truly set off the crisis and that killed and maimed dozens of people was Ciravegna based in the province of Cuneo. Indeed, from December 1985 to March 1986, Giovanni and Daniele Ciravegna cut two and a half metric tons of methanol into their wine! The practice ceased in March because the first deaths had been registered and arrests were then made.

The consequences were grave: twenty three killed and dozens left blind or with serious neurological problems. The Italian wine industry had seen its international reputation ruined: some countries – particularly Germany – temporarily blocked the sale of Italian wine.

And the moral of the story is?

Well, actually there are two…

(i) Already in 1984 a local quality inspection had mentioned problems with methanol in the Ciravegna’s production: better forewarned…

(ii) Giovanni Ciravegna was given a fourteen year sentence and when he was released in 2001 he went back to producing wine: pick your bottle carefully then. SY

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Posted November 3, 2010 by zachmon in Uncategorized

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