While the wine trade enjoys a romantic public image, it is a business, and a cutthroat one at that. And, like any other business, it has had its share of unscrupulous operators. The first fraud involving wine probably arose shortly after it was initially recognized as a valuable commodity many thousands of years ago, and the ensuing years have only seen the schemes grow more ingenious, even as more controls have been put in place to stop them.
The history of scandal in the wine business is not only long and colorful; it also has much to say about our complicated relationship with this complicated beverage. Wine may be the most regulated drink in the world, and yet it remains surprisingly easy for knaves and scoundrels to exploit our fundamental gullibility, credulousness, and insecurity about it.