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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Cincinnati Is The Birthplace Of America's Wine Industry: Yet We Couldn't Spot Fake French Pinot Noir

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Eighteen million bottles, and nobody noticed, not even in the city where it is claimed the U.S. wine industry was born. Well, whine me, dhine me. The first person elected into the wine hall of fame was Nicholas Longworth, a Cincinnatian known as the father of American winemaking. Ohio still has a thriving wine industry that is growing. Four of the state's vineyard tour trails start in Cincinnati (map above). In the BBC's news story about the Red Bicyclette scandal, a French lawyer argued nobody was guilty because nobody complained:

"A lawyer for Sieur d'Arques, Jean-Marie Bourland, told Agence France-Presse: 'There is no prejudice. Not a single American consumer complained.' A lawyer for three other defendants argued his clients had delivered a wine that had Pinot Noir characteristics. E and J Gallo said it was no longer selling any of the wine to its customers."

Gawker said Americans were too tasteless to know any better. That views seems to be a bit at odds with Cincinnati Enquirer Editor Tom Callinan's opinion piece this morning that declared "Cincinnati is on a high and in the national spotlight for its rich cultural assets." Still, we can't spot a fake Pinot Noir. That's a fact despite all the culinary wonders Callinan and others have been pointing out recently. If someone here had popped a cork -- and caught on to the scandal -- then Cincinnati would really look refined to the rest of the world. Instead, we're wine rubes like everyone else.

So how was this scam exposed? French Customs inspectors caught on, not gourmands. They noticed that more Pinot Noir was being exported to America than the region of France where it originates had historically been able to produce.

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