The Dark Secret About Star Trek’s Best Running Joke

By Chris Snellgrove | Updated

In Star Trek: Picard’s third season, the best running joke was that pretty much everyone hated the title character’s wine. Before getting into more misadventures and rejoining Starfleet, Picard spent all his time working on the family vineyard, and everyone’s reaction to the taste of Chateau Picard seems to prove it just doesn’t taste very good. However, the dark secret behind this famous Star Trek wine tasting bad is it only started tasting bad after Picard’s brother burned to death in a fire.

Chateau Picard Doesn’t Taste Very Good

If you only look at this drink as portrayed in Star Trek: Picard, it’s simple to conclude that the title character’s family has always made bad wine. Captain Shaw refuses a bottle of it as a gift, telling Picard that he’s “more of a Malbec man.” Picard’s secret son, Jack Crusher, also doesn’t seem to be a fan, declining the offer of some Chateau Picard in favor of cheap whiskey.

At first, you might think these new Star Trek characters are refusing Picard’s wine in part because they don’t really know the man who is offering it. Notably, though, even Picard’s close friends aren’t big fans of their former captain’s wine-making skills. Geordi La Forge once commented that Chateau Picard was “too dry,” and the typically blunt Klingon Worf compares the captain’s wine to “sour mead.”

Chateau Picard Used To Taste Much Better

However, other Star Trek shows and films point to the fact that Picard’s family wine used to taste much better. In the Discovery episode “The Vulcan Hello,” Captain Philippa Georgiou has a bottle on display in her ready room, implying that she’s a big fan. In Strange New World’s episode “Among the Lotus Eaters,” Captains Pike and Batel share glasses of the stuff and seem to enjoy the taste.

Additionally, Picard had his senior crew remember the noble sacrifice of Data in Star Trek: Nemesis by drinking some of the family wine, and nobody complained about the taste. In the Lower Decks episode “Kayshon, His Eyes Open,” the title character (a member of the Collectors Guild) had two crates of Chateau Picard in his collection, implying that each bottle is highly valuable.

Why The Decline In Quality?

For Star Trek fans, this creates something of a mystery: if Picard’s family wine was good before and sucks later on, what happened? There seems to be a two-part answer to the mystery.

The first part is that Captain Picard’s brother Robert, the man who previously ran the family business, died in a fire, something that we find out about in Star Trek: Generations. He presumably named his own successor, which is why the wine still seemingly tasted good by the time of Nemesis.

However, when the Picard show begins, Jean-Luc has moved back home and taken over the family business. Notably, nobody complained about the taste of Chateau Picard until then. This implies the problem is with Picard himself, and one of the key reasons for this is the second answer to our mystery.

Robert Picard Cared About Quality

In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Family,” which is the one and only time we see Robert Picard outside of a family photo, we learn that he rejected modern technology and created wine the old-fashioned way. This guy was so old-school he didn’t even want a replicator in his family kitchen. Notably, once Picard takes over the family business, he employs plenty of technology, including automated vehicles that water the fields.

Automation Doesn’t Cut It

There you have it, Star Trek fans: the Enterprise captain didn’t have much experience making wine to begin with and only took over after his brother died. At that point, Picard rejected the very techniques that made Chateau Picard something that was cherished and valued across the galaxy. Picard himself is grim proof that even in a future where money is seemingly irrelevant, dudes living in their giant palatial estates will manage to ruin great products by cutting corners and embracing automation.