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.
Despite a recent boycott of TRUMP branded wines, Wegmans is selling out of the 45th's President's wine line....read more ›
While President's Day has come and gone, it doesn't mean it's too late to drink like the leader of the country, and with George Washington's whiskey, ...read more ›
At Las Vegas’ Mandarin Oriental Hotel, guests can now self-serve themselves bottles of Möet & Chandon from a vending machine - and it’s the first...read more ›
Many people were shocked when they first heard the news that Walmart was even selling its own craft beer, but alas, it’s all a lie, as one Ohio man ...read more ›
Staff both in the UK and the US will now receive one week of paid leave when they rescue a dog....read more ›
Aging in a barrel can certainly add subtlety, richness, and complexity to whiskey, brandy, rum, and other liquors. But researchers in Spain may have f...read more ›
HBO's wildly popular series Game of Thrones and Ommegang Brewery are continuing their beer collaboration with ...read more ›
You may have noticed a growing trend in movie theaters recently - instead of ordering a popcorn, candy bar, and soda, you might be getting a popcorn, ...read more ›
Fresh off the Super Bowl, Lady Gaga's company filed paperwork this week to begin producing wine, according to TMZ. ...read more ›
Guinness is providing an opportunity for North Americans to learn how to pour that perfect pint without leaving the States....read more ›
Nasty Woman Wines was founded by Meg Murray on Election Day, and she's using it to get more women to the table in policy and leadership positions arou...read more ›
Richmond, Virginia's Veil Brewing Company is making all of our childish dreams come true with their latest release - which is brewed with Oreos....read more ›