Grapes of Bluff

Usually when we think of forged items we think of artwork or money. But there’s another expensive item of which people make fake versions. Wine forgery is a growing problem for wine makers, collectors and drinkers worldwide. According to wine consultant Stuart George, there are two types.

“A fake is a genuine object that has been tampered with for the purpose of deception. In wine terms this means a bottle in which the contents do not match the label – for example, pouring cheaper stuff into a bottle with a label that imitates the good stuff, or taking a bottle of an inferior, less expensive vintage and relabeling it with a better, more expensive vintage,” he told The Word. “A forgery is an object made in fraudulent imitation of something – bottles and labels that are an attempt to copy the real thing.”

An auction is a sale where people make offers, which usually get increasingly larger.

The biggest scandal that has rocked the industry is that of Rudy Kurniawan, who was arrested by the FBI in the US in March 2012 for, among other crimes, ‘Attempt to Sell Encumbered Wines at an International Auction House,’ probably in connection with a London wine auction held one month earlier in which questionable bottles of wine turned up and Kurniawan was rumored to have been the consignor.

At either auction or through private sales top wines can bring in a lot of money, so counterfeiters are busy. This situation becomes obvious when experts notice that there are too many rare bottles from famous wineries. Huge global demand for wine, especially from Asia, is also making wine more expensive in general. The Chinese demand has led to some wine being specifically faked according to Mr George.

“Château Lafite has been the most faked wine in recent years because of the huge demand for it in China. But the demand has slowed significantly because (among other reasons) buyers are unsure if they’re getting the genuine thing,” he said. “In the current fine wine market Domaine de la Romanée-Conti is probably the most faked wine. As with Lafite, the huge demand for the wine has motivated fraudsters. Counterfeiters are not brand loyal.”

Slang: Plonk: Plonk is slang for wine. It probably comes from the sound the cork makes when we open the bottle.

Even cheap bottles of plonk aren’t safe.

“In China, fake Bordeaux châteaux that don’t actually exist and in London, forged bottles of Jacob’s Creek, for example, were found last year.”

Interestingly, Mr George says red wine is more likely to be forged than white.

“Spotting “genuine fakes” is getting harder than ever because there are so many of them and often skillfully done,” Mr George said. “Old wines are guilty until proved innocent.”

Original article by Jacy Meyer – Phoenix, Arizona. Text edited by The Word’s methodology team

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Usually when we think of forged items we think of artwork or money. But wine forgery is a growing problem for wine makers, collectors and drinkers worldwide. According to wine consultant Stuart George, there are two types.

“A fake is a genuine object that has been tampered with for the purpose of deception. In wine terms this means a bottle in which the contents do not match the label – for example, pouring cheaper stuff into a bottle with a label that imitates the good stuff, or taking a bottle of an inferior, less expensive vintage and relabeling it with a better, more expensive vintage,” he told The Word. “A forgery is an object made in fraudulent imitation of something – bottles and labels that are an attempt to copy the real thing.”

An auction is a sale where people make offers, which usually get increasingly larger.

At either auction or through private sales top wines can bring in a lot of money, so counterfeiters are busy. This situation becomes obvious when experts notice that there are too many rare bottles from famous wineries.

Huge global demand for wine, especially from Asia, is also making wine more expensive in general. The Chinese demand has led to some wine being specifically faked according to Mr George.

“Château Lafite has been the most faked wine in recent years because of the huge demand for it in China. But the demand has slowed significantly because (among other reasons) buyers are unsure if they’re getting the genuine thing,” he said.

Slang: Plonk: Plonk is slang for wine. It probably comes from the sound the cork makes when we open the bottle.

Even cheap bottles of plonk aren’t safe

“In China, fake Bordeaux châteaux that don’t actually exist and in London, forged bottles of Jacob’s Creek, for example, were found last year.”

Interestingly, Mr George says red wine is more likely to be forged than white.

“Spotting “genuine fakes” is getting harder than ever because there are so many of them and often skillfully done,” Mr George said. “Old wines are guilty until proved innocent.”

Original article by Jacy Meyer – Phoenix, Arizona. Text edited by The Word’s methodology team

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Forged paintings, fake money…when you think of someone copying something to sell fraudulently, these are the two items that come first to mind. But there’s another pricy item that is being faked, and this deceitful product might actually catch you.

Wine forgery is a growing concern to wine makers, collectors and drinkers worldwide. According to wine consultant Stuart George, there are two types.

“A fake is a genuine object that has been tampered with for the purpose of deception. In wine terms this means a bottle in which the contents do not match the label – for example, pouring cheaper stuff into a bottle with a label that imitates the good stuff, or taking a bottle of an inferior, less expensive vintage and relabeling it with a better, more expensive vintage,” he told The Word. “A forgery is an object made in fraudulent imitation of something – bottles and labels that are an attempt to copy the real thing.”

The biggest scandal that has rocked the industry is that of Rudy Kurniawan, who was arrested by the FBI in the US in March 2012 for, among other crimes, “Attempt to Sell Encumbered Wines at an International Auction House,” probably in connection with a London wine auction held one month earlier in which questionable bottles of wine turned up and Kurniawan was rumored to have been the consignor. The complaint against Kurniawan included details of a search of his home which included empty wine bottles, inkpads, glue and fine paper, along with dozens of old labels, corks and capsules, as well as bottles soaking in sinks to remove their labels.

To keep busy: To maintain a high level of work

The amount of money top wines can bring in at either auction or through private sales is why the counterfeiters are keeping busy and experts note there are too many rare bottles from well-known wineries for there not to be fakes out there. Huge global demand for wine, especially from Asia, is also bumping up wine prices in general. The Chinese demand has led to some wine being specifically faked according to Mr George.

“Château Lafite has been the most faked wine in recent years because of the huge demand for it in China. But the demand has slowed significantly because (among other reasons) buyers are unsure if they’re getting the genuine thing,” he said. “In the current fine wine market Domaine de la Romanée-Conti is probably the most faked wine. As with Lafite, the huge demand for the wine has motivated fraudsters. Counterfeiters are not brand loyal.”

Slang: Plonk: Plonk is slang for wine. It probably comes from the sound the cork makes when we open the bottle.

But don’t think if you are just interested in a decent bottle of plonk to drink with dinner you are safe from the danger. Mr. George says he has seen inexpensive fake wines.

“In China, fake Bordeaux châteaux that don’t actually exist and in London, forged bottles of Jacob’s Creek, for example, were found last year.”

Interestingly, Mr George says red wine is more likely to be forged than white.

Idiom: To go a long way: To help a lot

“Old(er) Bordeaux and Burgundy red wines,” he said are the most popular forged wines. “There is much less, if any, faked or forged white wine because the demand is not as great as for red.

Mr George, whose clients call on him to authenticate wines, says it is getting increasingly difficult to detect wine forgery. He obviously prefers to check a bottle visually rather than opening it, particularly for especially rare vintages. He first checks the bottle to make sure it is the right shape, size and color for the wine and then moves on to the capsule, checking the same thing – it is the right color, design and material? The label can hold many clues, and is difficult to check. Mr George says he looks to make sure it’s the right size and shape, the fonts and ink color are correct and the type of paper and glue that was used. Misspellings and misplaced or missing accents are also a big clue the bottle has been relabeled. Also, what’s the vintage? Some forged wines have been offered that have never been made. But all this is irrelevant if the bottle has been refilled. Then Mr George says the color and cork are two of the most telling signs. The last resort is to approach the winery itself, but Mr George says not all wineries are cooperative. Plus, many pre-1945 records were destroyed during the war at many Bordeaux and Burgundy estates. Due diligence by the wine merchant in checking these things out can go a long way to verifying if a bottle is authentic.”

“Spotting “genuine fakes” is getting harder than ever because there are so many of them and often skillfully done,” Mr George said. “Old wines are guilty until proved innocent.”

Jacy Meyer – Phoenix, Arizona

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