In this era of grim global non-vinous volatility,
perhaps wine writers should focus more on being cheerful and optimistic. Less vintage Weltschmerz and more advice about imbiber wellbeing. Such as how you can get even more of those delightful Champagne bubbles up your nose if you drink it while you’re doing pilates.

I think they should. But I’m afraid this time I can’t. Please blame the wine desk at the UK Guardian. Thanks to them, I must pass on an urgent and sobering reminder to all who love wine. Be a wine romantic by all means, and a wine worshipper, and even, on Friday nights, a wine casualty. But please, please, don’t neglect to also be a wine detective.

Most of us, most of the time, don’t need reminding. Only yesterday I solved the Case Of The Missing Corkscrew. The suspect finally confessed, and my souvenir from the Barossa was found, as I suspected, blu-tacked to the wrist stump of an evil-looking and possibly alcoholic Lego pirate.

This of course is the easy part of the wine detective’s beat. My grandson is still young, but I’m confident that even in years to come I’ll be able to solve the Case Of The Missing Case Of Shiraz by simply looking under his bed. Or, failing that, under his eyelids.

But there are many more complex and difficult tasks awaiting us wine detectives as we tread the macerated mean streets. People depend on us. People who regularly fill their bodies with a fluid whose hundreds of organic chemical components are never listed on the bottle and only ever on the most verbose winelist.

Here’s just one chilling item from the Guardian‘s casebook. A wine company in the US bought 13.5 million litres of pinot noir from the Languedoc region. Some time later, eagle-eyed French wine authorities let them know that the area only produced five million litres of the stuff a year. A sample was analysed. The buyers discovered that their millions of bottles of pinot were actually merlot and shiraz. About which they’d received not one consumer complaint. How did the punters not notice? Or the experts? Unless (gulp) every bottle of pinot in the world is actually merlot and shiraz?

Told you it was chilling. I’ve already instigated security measures re my own pinot drinking. Before I open one, I first drink a bottle of merlot and a bottle of shiraz for reference.

Just in case you think that outrage was a one-off, let this sit on your palate for a moment. A group of shops in Birmingham UK were busted selling fake Yellow Tail. I know, are there no depths? Though in their defence, there were thousands of empty Yellow Tail bottles left lying around temptingly. Mostly, I assume, by the people who refill Château Lafite bottles.

Be careful out there, detectives.