THE DRINK NATION IS A FREE RESOURCE FOR FINDING EVERYTHING AWESOME ABOUT DRINKING IN YOUR LOCATION

On Scales Both Large and Small, Wine Fraud Happens

Here's how to spot it
by Robin Shreeves on Jan 28, 2013 in Wine
On Scales Both Large and Small, Wine Fraud Happens

In March of 2012, the rare-wine collecting world was shaken by the arrest of Rudy Kurniawan. His crime? Wine-fraud. Kurniawan had bought and sold millions of dollars worth of rare wine over the years, but many of the wines he sold were fakes. The FBI found a counterfeiting operation in Kurniawan’s home. They confiscated bottles in the process of being turned into knockoffs of desirable wines from Burgundy and Bordeaux, along with counterfeit labels.

It was the labels on the wine he was attempting to sell that in 2008 tipped off Laurent Ponsot, proprietor of Domaine Ponsot in Burgundy. Kurniawan was trying to auction bottles of wine that Domaine Ponsot never made. The dates were wrong — sometimes 40 years off. Ponsot instigated a four-year investigation of Kurniawan, which eventually led to his arrest for what many believe is the largest case of wine fraud in history.

For years, Kurniawan had duped many of the wine world’s biggest spenders. But collectors who invest millions in rare wines aren’t the only ones that need to be concerned with wine fraud. It can happen to anyone in a restaurant.

Check the Year

A standard wine menu will always list a vintage year. Sometimes, a server will present a bottle that’s a different year than the one on the list. Since the quality of wine varies from year to year, not all vintages are equally valuable. A restaurant may try to serve an inferior vintage, purposefully or simply by oversight. A quick look at a presented wine’s label to double check the vintage is a good idea when ordering a bottle. If the year differs from that on the wine list, point it out to the server before the bottle is opened.

Pre-Opened Bottles


A bottle that arrives at the table already opened is another indication the wine in it may have been switched. In inexpensive or chain restaurants, it could also be an indication that the server is inexperienced at opening wine and had someone else open it in the wait station. In a fine restaurant, however, an already opened bottle brought to the table is a red flag. An empty bottle may have been filled with less expensive wine.

By the Glass

When wine is served by the glass, fraud is even easier to pull off. If wines on the menu are unfamiliar, it’s difficult to determine if what is served is what was ordered. The bartender may send out the $7 glass of Chianti when the $12 glass was requested. Short of watching the bartender pour the wine, this type of fraud is hard to catch.

It’s good to remember that being brought the wrong wine can be a mistake and not necessarily a deliberate fraud attempt. Suspected wine fraud should be brought to the manager’s attention discreetly, giving the restaurant a chance to correct the problem. However, if it happens at the same restaurant more than once, definitely pick a different restaurant next time.

Top photo via Flickr user nahlinse; bottom photo by Flickr user WineCoMN

Recent Articles

Feedback

How are we doing? Tell us what you like or don't like and how we can improve. We would love to hear your thoughts!

*Name:
*E-mail:
*Suggestions:
 
Things No One Asked For: Fireball Gummy Candies

Things No One Asked For: Fireball Gummy Candies

Get ready - both Irish Confectionery Co. and VineGelee are now selling gummy bears spiked with Fireball. ...read more ›

by Ryan Hudak Jun 13, 2017
D.C. Is Getting a 'Game of Thrones' Pop-Up Bar For the Summer

D.C. Is Getting a 'Game of Thrones' Pop-Up Bar For the Summer

D.C. is getting a Game of Thrones pop-up bar - three of them, in fact. Drink Company (run by Derek Brown and Angie Fetherston) is turning three of its...read more ›

by The Drink Nation Jun 12, 2017
AB InBev Buys Minority Shares in RateBeer.com: Craft Beer Brands Ask to Be Removed From Site

AB InBev Buys Minority Shares in RateBeer.com: Craft Beer Brands Ask to Be Removed From Site

Global conglomerate Anheuser-Busch InBev now has a minority stake in RateBeer.com....read more ›

by Alexander Frane Jun 12, 2017
SPONSORED
Pernod Now Owns Del Maguey Mezcal

Pernod Now Owns Del Maguey Mezcal

On June 7, 2017, Ron Cooper announced that Pernod-Ricard, one of the world’s top spirits companies, would be acquiring Del Maguey....read more ›

by Alexander Frane Jun 12, 2017
Negroni Week 2017 is Featuring Negroni-Inspired Food Across the Nation

Negroni Week 2017 is Featuring Negroni-Inspired Food Across the Nation

This year, for Negroni Week, bartenders and chefs are working together to create Negroni-inspired eats across ...read more ›

by Alexander Frane Jun 6, 2017
You Can Now Get Rose From a Drive-Thru in the Hamptons

You Can Now Get Rose From a Drive-Thru in the Hamptons

If you find yourself driving through the Hamptons one day and need an emergency bottle of rose, you're covered - a winemaker has opened a rose drive-t...read more ›

by The Drink Nation Jun 6, 2017
Behind the Bar: Tracie Franklin, Glenfiddich Ambassador

Behind the Bar: Tracie Franklin, Glenfiddich Ambassador

For this installment of Behind the Bar, we talked to Tracie Franklin, the Southeasten US representative for Glenfiddich, about her day-to-day, her per...read more ›

by The Drink Nation Jun 6, 2017
Taco Bell is Rolling Out More Bars, Eyeing World Domination

Taco Bell is Rolling Out More Bars, Eyeing World Domination

Taco Bell started the trend of international fast food garbage restaurants serving alcohol in the US with their Taco Bell Cantinas. Now, the company ...read more ›

by Ryan Hudak Jun 6, 2017
Chinese Factory Caught Making Fake Budweiser

Chinese Factory Caught Making Fake Budweiser

A factory in Dongguan, China was caught producing and canning fake Budweiser beer early in May. ...read more ›

by Jessie Donofrio Jun 6, 2017
Drink This Beer to Help Save the Tiger Population

Drink This Beer to Help Save the Tiger Population

A Singaporean beer owned by Heineken called Tiger Beer has teamed up with the World Wildlife Fund to help save baby tigers, so you can drink great bee...read more ›

by The Drink Nation May 31, 2017
SPONSORED
View all Articles

Sign up to get weekly drinking news, bar reviews, events and more sent directly to your inbox!

Close