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.
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.
There's a fountain in Abruzzo that gives out a constant stream not of water, but of wine, and for no charge....read more ›
According to the Wall Street Journal, Kirin, which is the second-largest beer maker by market share in Japan, is buying into Brooklyn Brewery....read more ›
Ever wonder what type of drink to order to give off a certain vibe at a bar or party? According to a recent Budweiser survey, men and women who drink ...read more ›
Their solution is the creation of animal safe, edible six-pack rings....read more ›
This means anyone who travels to Cuban can bring as much rum and/or cigars back as they'd like!...read more ›
The Great American Beer Festival celebrated 35 years of great beers on October 6-8 and this festival was the biggest one yet. ...read more ›
The TV Beer Mug is a mug with a slant in it so you never have to look away from the television....read more ›
But don't get too excited-there's no THC in this beer, meaning it won't get you "high"....read more ›
The program provides coaching, mentoring, education and business loans for small and emerging companies. ...read more ›
Not a sports champion, but a champion of beer....read more ›
Over 1,000 beers from home brewers around the country participated. ...read more ›
Scientists at UC San Diego have been developing a temporary tattoo than can measure blood alcohol content...read more ›