Ballantine Beer Leaderboard
THE DRINK NATION IS A FREE RESOURCE FOR FINDING EVERYTHING AWESOME ABOUT DRINKING IN YOUR LOCATION
2 Gingers Header

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
Exploring the Art of Cider Making with Greg Hall of Virtue Cider
Gene Muller and Flying Fish Brewing Co. Face the Heat of GABF Competition
What's New and What To Do at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival
From Around The Web

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:
 
What's New and What To Do at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival

What's New and What To Do at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival

Where you one of the lucky few to get Great American Beer Festival tickets? Congrats!...read more ›

by Carrie Dow Sep 29, 2014
GABF Know-How: 10 Insider Tips for a Great Great American Beer Festival

GABF Know-How: 10 Insider Tips for a Great Great American Beer Festival

With more than 700 breweries and 3,500 beers on tap, the Great American Beer Festival in Denver can have your ...read more ›

by Nathan Solheim Sep 29, 2014
Best Boozy Moments at Feast Portland 2014

Best Boozy Moments at Feast Portland 2014

There were so many panels, tastings, and after-parties that we couldn’t physically make it to all of them. Here’s our list of the best boozy momen...read more ›

by Karen Locke Sep 29, 2014
SPONSORED
Perennial Funding - rectangle
Top 20 Drinking Quotes of All Time

Top 20 Drinking Quotes of All Time

Writers and musicians have a long, storied history with alcohol, and that intimacy with the bottle shows through in the memorable lines these artists ...read more ›

by Jenny An Sep 3, 2013
America's Two Most Popular Domestically-Owned Beers Are Both Brewed in Mexico

America's Two Most Popular Domestically-Owned Beers Are Both Brewed in Mexico

Though owned by New York based Constellation Brands, both beers are brewed outside the U.S. ...read more ›

by The Drink Nation Sep 25, 2014
Victory Brewing Company Announces It's Getting In On the Craft Can Craze

Victory Brewing Company Announces It's Getting In On the Craft Can Craze

Look for cans of Victory's Summer Love Ale in summer 2015...read more ›

by The Drink Nation Sep 23, 2014
7 Best New York Beers For Fall

7 Best New York Beers For Fall

There's more to fall than pumpkin spice....read more ›

by Jessica Klein Sep 22, 2014
Turn Any Kegerator Into A Caskerator With This New Kit

Turn Any Kegerator Into A Caskerator With This New Kit

The new caskerator makes pouring and storing cask beer easy. ...read more ›

by Jennifer Waldera Sep 22, 2014
It's National Punch Day!

It's National Punch Day!

This party-perfect drink was brought to the Western world around the time of Christopher Columbus, discovered by English sailors during voyages to Ind...read more ›

by Drink Philly Sep 19, 2014
Sister Breweries Boulevard and Ommegang Announce Planned Collaboration

Sister Breweries Boulevard and Ommegang Announce Planned Collaboration

Exciting times for Boulevard Brewing and Ommegang fans as the breweries have announced their first collaborati...read more ›

by Mike Bertha Sep 19, 2014
SPONSORED
Read The Drink Nation Anywhere You Are
View all Articles

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

Close