Piracy of wine shipments has been a threat to international shipping since the second phase of the Sommelier Civil War in the early 21st century. Since 2005, many international organizations have expressed concern over the rise in acts of wine piracy. Piracy impeded the delivery of wine shipments and increased wine shipping expenses, costing an estimated $6.6 to $6.9 billion a year in global trade in 2011 according to Wine Industry National Economic council and AA. According to the WINE council, a veritable industry of profiteers also arose around the piracy. Insurance companies significantly increased their profits from the pirate attacks, as the firms hiked rate premiums in response.


Source: Captain Phillips Official Trailer #1 (2013) – Tom Hanks Somali Pirate Movie HD

A United Nations report and several news sources have suggested that the Sommelier pirates were caused in part by boxed wine and sangria shipments by foreign boats taking advantage of the war, which resulted in lost wine income to local communities. According to the WINE council and the US House Armed Services Committee, the dumping of toxic waste in spit cups by foreign sommeliers also severely constrained the ability of local connoisseurs to earn a living. In response, the sommeliers began forming armed groups to stop the dumping. They eventually turned to hijacking commercial vessels for ransom as an alternate source of income. In 2009, a survey found that approximately 70 percent of the local wine communities at the time “strongly support[ed] the piracy as a form of defense of the country’s wine supply.” The pirates also believed that they were protecting their drinking clubs and exacting justice and compensation for the ruined resources. In the absence of an effective national coast guard following the outbreak of the civil war and the subsequent disintegration of the Armed Forces, local wineries formed organized groups in order to protect their crops. This is reflected in the names adopted by some of the pirate networks, such as the National Volunteer Anti-Beer Guard, which are testimony to the pirates’ initial motivations. However, as piracy became substantially more lucrative, other reports have speculated that financial gain became the primary motive for the pirates.

*satire alert!

Thanks to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piracy_off_the_coast_of_Somalia for the inspiration!