Imagine this. You get home from a hard day at work and head to the kitchen to pour yourself a glass of water. You turn on the tap – and instead of water, out comes red wine.
Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? Some might even say a miracle. Not for the residents of the Casteverto area of Modena in northern Italy however, who found their pipe network connected to a local winery by mistake.
A “technical fault” at the local Cantina Settecani winery meant that one of the site’s silos was passing its precious load into water pipes which supplied the local system.
Instead of water being piped from the public supply into the bottling plant, an unusual valve malfunction during maintenance work saw wine start flowing in the other direction, out of the silo, into the public pipe network and straight into residential properties in neighbouring villages.
Residents who were wanting to take a bath or wash their dishes were turning on their tap to be confronted with a pink liquid pouring out, which was unmistakably the locally produced red wine Lambrusco Grasparossa.
When passed through pipes, wine has a higher pressure than water. This allowed the Lambrusco Grasparossa to run through the pipes quicker than the water, displacing it within the system. Red wine subsequently flowed into people’s homes once they turned the tap on.
Quick thinking locals began bottling the precious wine. The local newspaper Gazetta di Modena reported that many were planning on storing the free wine to enjoy “later at a lunch or dinner along with other typical Modenese specialties.”
Modena’s Lambrusco is a lightly sparkling red wine which is so well regarded in Italy that it has a ‘denominazione di origine controllata’ (DOC) placed on it. This means that a wine can only be made and labelled as Lambrusco if it is produced in a very specific place.
It has a complex flavour and a history dating back to Etruscan times over 2,000 years ago. It is an excellent accompaniment to the local food delicacy, zampone (stuffed pig trotter).
Sadly for residents, the fault was quickly identified by the local water board who sent technicians to fix the problem. The region’s council was quick to apologise for the error on Facebook.
While some residents voiced the concerns about how easily the local water supply had become contaminated, others complained to the council and water company for fixing the problem too quickly.
The incident provided some relief from the news story that has been dominating Italy in recent weeks with the northern part of the country being particularly badly hit by the coronavirus outbreak.