Say what you will about Vladimir Putin, but the man gets what he wants. Back in March of 2014, he wanted Crimea, so Russia annexed the region from Ukraine. More recently, while touring Crimea’s renowned Massandra Winery, he allegedly decided he and his drinking buddy, former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi, wanted a bottle of wine from 1775, so he supposedly convinced the winery’s director to crack one of those bottles open for them too.
Problem is, 240-year-old bottles of wine aren’t easy to come by and they definitely aren’t cheap. According to the Associated Press, only about five bottles existed and comparable bottles sold for nearly $50,000 back in 2001. So Ukraine, still upset about that whole “stealing Crimea from them” thing, was especially miffed to hear that their archenemy was partying it up with their prized wine. You see, back when Ukraine controlled Crimea, the winery was government property. Occasionally, bottles were auctioned off, but the funds went directly to the state. That means that with every sip, Putin and Berlusconi were basically sucking down what should have been Ukrainian cash. (Now that Massandra is under control of Russia, by drinking the wine, Putin was theoretically just wasting his own country’s money—something I don’t think he worries too much about.)
In an attempt to exact their revenge, Ukrainian prosecutors responsible for Crimea have filed embezzlement charges against Yanina Pavlenko, Massandra’s wine director who the Ukraine says provided the infamous leaders with the exclusive vino. A slight wrinkle, though: Since Crimea is under the control of Russia, it’ll be hard to make any of those charges stick.
In an interesting side note, Pavlenko was already wanted in Ukraine for treason, so…yeah…pouring a couple of pricey glasses of wine was probably the least of her concerns. Meanwhile, we’re still waiting to hear Putin’s and Berlusconi’s tasting notes on the 240-year-old bottle, but I’m guessing it includes a solid cackle.