The term “wine thief” is a clever name for a glass pipette that winemakers use to extract a small amount of wine from a cask for testing. Typically a wine thief is anywhere from 12 to 24 inches in length and is easily inserted through a hole in the wooden barrel where wine is fermenting.
We are lucky to have obtained the famous and highly allocated Leonetti Cellars Reserve for our upcoming launch of luxury wine baskets, and in the process of researching it, I came across an interesting story. In 2007 during one of Leonetti’s selective “invite-only” tours through their winery and barrel caves, a group of visitors happened upon a wine thief and took the liberty of sampling wine straight from the barrel.
Not only did this rude gesture get them tossed off the property, but it also forced Leonetti to dump that barrel because they could no longer account for what was in it. Seeing as how a barrel holds approximately 25 cases of wine and that a modest Leonetti Merlot runs $75 per bottle, over $22,500 of wine was discarded.
Needless to say, those ill-mannered visitors are no longer allowed on the property, but the story does add a interesting and memorable twist to the concept of a wine thief.