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12.2013

Massachusetts Beverage Business

archivedOnWineReport

DEADLY WINE

THIS WAS AN ATTEMPT at teaching a lesson that went terribly wrong.  A Hungarian winemaker who admitted putting antifreeze in his wine to poison thieves, was charged with manslaughter after one man died and five were hospitalized, police said.  The 37-year-old, who worked in the village of Vacszentlaszlo, 3O miles east of Budapest, told police that people regularly stole from his cellar so he contaminated the barrels to “teach them a lesson”.  However, he denied intending to kill anyone, saying he only wanted to make the thieves ill.  Police said in a statement that a 3O-year-old man (according to media reports a known thief), took several jugs of wine from the barrels on October 24, later sharing them with acquaintances.  He was taken to hospital a few days later with suspected poisoning and died on November 1.  Experts are examining the precise cause of death, police said.  Five others are in hospital in a “serious” condition.  Antifreeze is commonly used in winery cooling systems and first came to worldwide attention in 1985 when it was discovered that some Austrian wines had been adulterated with diethylene glycol, a component in some brands of antifreeze.  As well as being found in some Austrian wines, it was discovered in those made by German producers who had bought Austrian bulk wine.  It was used to add body and make sweet wines seem sweeter.  While there were no reports of fatalities or permanent ill effects, it has taken decades for Austria to regain wine consumers’ trust.

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