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An Insider’s Guide to Counterfeiting Wine

on 13/03/12 at 11:11 am


Illustration by Luke McGarry

Last week the FBI arrested a 35-year-old millionaire wine dealer suspected of trying to sell $1.3 million in counterfeit wine. The high-profile case is just the latest illustration of a fraud that has spread to every corner of the wine world in the past few decades, from the booming Chinese market to the international auction circuit.

Given the prices collectors are willing to pay for high-end wine—bottles of the 1982 vintage of France’s grand crus, for example, can fetch $2,000 to $5,000, depending on the trustworthiness of the provenance—selling counterfeit wine can be a lucrative business. Aspiring fraudsters need only a bit of know-how and a few hundred dollars of startup costs. Herewith, a rundown on some of their techniques.

Picking a target wine:

Older vintages are easier to fake. They are more likely to remain in cellars unopened, as collectors’ items. And even if they are drunk, connoisseurs recognize that the wine inside may have been transformed over time—taste, at a certain point, is not a reliable indicator of authenticity.

The methods:

1) Relabeling: The simplest, and arguably crudest, way to counterfeit wine is to slap the label of a fine wine on to another, similar-looking bottle.

FULL STORY via Business Week

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