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:
 
Applebees Employee's Video Shows Crappy $1 Margaritas Even Crappier Than You Thought

Applebees Employee's Video Shows Crappy $1 Margaritas Even Crappier Than You Thought

Applebee's is offering a $1 margarita throughout the entirety of October at any of their participating restaur...read more ›

by Ryan Hudak Oct 13, 2017
California Wildfires Burn 150,000 Acres, Majorly Affecting Vineyards Throughout Wine Country

California Wildfires Burn 150,000 Acres, Majorly Affecting Vineyards Throughout Wine Country

Wildfires have swept through Napa and Sonoma counties, killing 15 and putting the livelihood of wine country a...read more ›

by The Drink Nation Oct 10, 2017
Johnnie Walker Is Selling a Blade Runner 2049 Scotch

Johnnie Walker Is Selling a Blade Runner 2049 Scotch

With the Blade Runner sequel in theaters now, Johnnie Walker has designed a blend to commemorate the film: Johnnie Walker Black The Director's Cut....read more ›

by Alexander Frane Oct 10, 2017
SPONSORED
Oregon's Union Wine Co. Teams up with Wildfang Clothing to Benefit Planned Parenthood

Oregon's Union Wine Co. Teams up with Wildfang Clothing to Benefit Planned Parenthood

Oregon's Union Wine Co. and Wildfang Clothing are teaming up to raise money for Planned Parenthood with a new ...read more ›

by Alexander Frane Oct 2, 2017
Boozy Ice Cream is Here To Boost Your Buzz

Boozy Ice Cream is Here To Boost Your Buzz

A Maryland company, ArcticBuzz, has given us the gift of combining vodka and ice cream to create the ultimate boozy treat....read more ›

by Jessie Donofrio Oct 2, 2017
What's Happening at the 2017 Great American Beer Festival

What's Happening at the 2017 Great American Beer Festival

Just about everything you can think of having to do with beer is at this festival....read more ›

by Carrie Dow Oct 2, 2017
Celebrate Fall in Style with Flask Cocktails from Coopers' Craft

Celebrate Fall in Style with Flask Cocktails from Coopers' Craft

Spice up your autumnal drinking with coffee cocktails that fit perfectly in a flask made with Coopers' Craft Kentucky Bourbon, which pairs perfectly w...read more ›

by The Drink Nation Sep 29, 2017
NPR is Starting a Wine Club to Fund Public Radio

NPR is Starting a Wine Club to Fund Public Radio

With funding for public radio possibly under fire, NPR is finding a way to fund its own shows that fits perfectly in their own tote bags - a wine club...read more ›

by The Drink Nation Sep 27, 2017
Summer Isn't Over Yet, Thanks to a Rose Festival in Texas This October

Summer Isn't Over Yet, Thanks to a Rose Festival in Texas This October

Summer may be over, but rose season isn't done quite yet, thanks to a rose wine festival this October in Dalla...read more ›

by The Drink Nation Sep 27, 2017
Auchentoshan Whisky Releases Bartenders' Malt

Auchentoshan Whisky Releases Bartenders' Malt

Auchentoshan recently released the Bartenders' Malt, a scotch whisky designed by twelve bartenders from around the world coming together at the distil...read more ›

by Alexander Frane Sep 26, 2017
SPONSORED
View all Articles

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

Close