26 November 2016

Weekend Cooking: Sour Grapes (Documentary)

If you live in the USA, then this week (and weekend) is all about the turkey and traditional family holiday recipes. We had a very quiet holiday and I (so far) have no new dishes to share, though I plan on maybe making turkey enchiladas tonight, so that would be different from my usual leftover reinventions.

One nice thing about the holiday weekend is having time to watch some movies. One film that fascinated me was Reuben Atlas and Jerry Rothwell's documentary Sour Grapes (2016). Despite my vow to learn more about wine, the subject of the film -- a huge wine fraud scandal -- was new to me. I guess I just don't pay attention to wines that sell for $10,000 a bottle. (Hum, I wonder why.)

So here's the story in a very small nutshell: Once upon a time, wine collecting (as an investment) and wine auctions were the domain of a few older rich white guys. In the 1990s, things began to change when a young man named Rudy Kurniawan hit the scene, bidding on wines and driving the prices into the stratosphere. He was generous and nice and eventually befriended Hollywood bigwigs, financial wiz kids, and hot-shot auction houses.

Then Kurniawan got involved with selling wine and even helped one New York wine shop sell more than $35 million (yes, you read that right) in wine in just a couple of years. His wines and auctions caught the eye of Burgundy vintner Laurent Ponsot, who began to smell a rat. As a result of several private and federal investigations, Kurniawan was arrested and tried for fraud . . .  for selling fake wines.

Sour Grapes is all about this scam. We meet Kurniawan's friends and foes and victims. We also get a look at the investigations and evidence and trial. Although the documentary starts out a little disjointed, the sequence of events soon solidify, and I couldn't stop watching. Clearly I'm living the wrong kind of life. The amount of money people spend on wine is unbelievable. I can't imagine spending thousands of dollars for a bottle of wine; heck, I can't even imagine spending $100!

Many questions still remain about the case: Who were Kurniawan's backers? Who else was involved with pulling off the deception? How could so many people be duped? How many bottles of fake wine are still in circulation? Can wine collectors ever be sure of what they're buying?

Watch Sour Grapes if you like true crime, if you want to see a different look at the wine world, and if you want to see Bill Koch's absolutely amazing wine cellar. I saw this film streaming on Netflix, but I bet it's available elsewhere too. (The still shows vintner Laurent Ponsot.)

Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.


rhapsodyinbooks 11/26/16, 7:31 AM  

I love turkey enchiladas! (or any kind of enchiladas, actually). I love the idea of using leftovers in ethnic dishes. The NYT is running a good-looking recipe of Turkey Tikka masala.

Tina 11/26/16, 7:47 AM  

What a scam! I admit to spending $60 and $ 70 on wine on only 2 occasions. A big birthday and a anniversary celebration. We pretty much like red blends that can be had for under $30. I'm not that complicated, lol.

Great use of turkey leftovers. I hope you post about them next week.

bermudaonion 11/26/16, 7:53 AM  

I used to devour true crime books. This case sounds fascinating!

jama 11/26/16, 7:56 AM  

What a fascinating story. Who knew? Thanks for the heads up.

Enjoy your turkey enchiladas. Happy Thanksgiving weekend!

Mae Travels 11/26/16, 8:03 AM  

Someone did a scam like that in the Detroit area (near where I live) a few years ago -- they were selling "futures" but didn't really have any contract to buy the wine when it was time to deliver. Interesting subject for a movie. Did you see "Bottle Shock" or any of the other movies about wine issues?

best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

Molly 11/26/16, 8:30 AM  

I just saw this title on Netflix as my son was scrolling through. Now I know I will need to watch it when I return home. GREAT review!

Deb in Hawaii 11/26/16, 10:41 AM  

Here's to quiet holiday weekends! This looks like an interesting film. I have heard of wine fraud before but I'm not familiar with this case or any of the details. I think it's one for my "to be watched" pile. ;-)

Claudia 11/26/16, 10:45 AM  

Hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving! That movie sounds intriguing as I'm interested in wine and enjoy true crime - especially when they round up the bad guys.:)

Melynda@Scratch Made Food! 11/26/16, 10:46 AM  

I look forward to viewing this film, we stream Netflix as our viewing option. Enchiladas sound delicious, in the past I have made a "tamale" pie with leftover dressing and turkey. Have a great weekend!

Nan 11/26/16, 12:13 PM  

I'm a flop at wine. It all tastes the same to me, and I don't like the taste. ;<))

Vicki 11/26/16, 1:46 PM  

I never met a wine I liked and the same with beer. I do love true crime though so I plan on looking for Sour Grapes.

Gilion at Rose City Reader 11/26/16, 6:00 PM  

I am going to go find that movie right now. Sounds great!

It's been forever since I had a post to share. but Weekend Cooking is one of my favorite blog events. I always enjoy it. Thanks for hosting!

Esme 11/27/16, 12:07 AM  

A friend of mine was just telling me about this movie. Happy Thanksgiving.

(Diane) bookchickdi 11/27/16, 1:32 PM  

After our recent trip to Sonoma, my husband would love this.

Unknown 11/27/16, 4:34 PM  

That sounds like a really interesting film! I admit to usually trying to keep my wines under $25, I have serious sticker shock sometimes when I'm in the store. I also shop by the beautiful bottles and labels...haha.

Heidenkind 11/27/16, 11:48 PM  

I watched this doc this weekend, too! It was definitely worth the badwidth.

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