Austrian wine scandal – setting the record straight

Vineyards in Austria (Photo: Austrian Wine website)

My recent article about the Austrian wine scandal attracted a response from a friend of mine who runs a wine school in Austria. It seems that the facts may have become slightly distorted after 33 years. Here is a copy of Pepi’s email.

Dear Bob, Happy New Year to you!

Just ahead of the festive season Willi Klinger sent me the link to your piece on your memorable wine scandals. As you realised he was not amused at all.

Aside from all the tragic criminal dimension and the following economic and image crisis I think you are fully aware that this scandal triggered all the positive developments in Austrian wine we saw in the past 30 years, in fact, also my Austrian Wine Academy that I founded in 1989 would not exist without the wine scandal.

As your friend and fellow MW and as someone who has been very close to the pulse of all those tragic developments let me put a few things right. (Ironically my neighbour was sentenced for selling some of these substances to wine companies and my close friend’s late father was heading the police force that unveiled the diethylene glycol scandal.)

  1. Important!!NOBODY died and nobody was physically harmed by the substance. The estimate was that the lethal dose of a ‘glycol wine’ was about 25-30 litres at a time…..
  2. It was in fact not ‘anti-freeze’, the substance used as antifreeze in cars is ethylene glycol not diethylene glycol. Some journalist had the idea to choose the catchy term anti-freeze.
  3. There were no wine growers involved or sentenced but criminal wine merchants who altered cheap wine to ‘Spätlese/Auslese’ style wines and shipped it in tank to Germany where it was bottled and sold. So the image of ‘two Austrian wine growers one on the southern and one on the northern side etc…’ is wrong and misleading.

I would be happy to welcome you very soon to our wine country and share a good bottle of wine with you.

Kind regards

Pepi

Dr. Josef Schuller MW – Director Weinakademie Österreich Seehof

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