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: Prosecco Donuts

Things No One Asked For: Prosecco Donuts

In case you were tired of drinking Prosecco the regular way, a New York bakery has introduced a new way to imbibe it: a Prosecco donut....read more ›

by Ryan Hudak Aug 8, 2017
This New York Winery is Producing a Rose-Inspired Gin

This New York Winery is Producing a Rose-Inspired Gin

Can't decide between a gin & tonic and a glass of rose? Thanks to Wolffer Estate Vineyard's newest gin release, you don't have to choose....read more ›

by The Drink Nation Aug 8, 2017
Since Humans Aren't Creative Enough, Robots May Be Naming Our Beers Soon

Since Humans Aren't Creative Enough, Robots May Be Naming Our Beers Soon

Research scientist Janelle Shane decided to take matters into her own hands - well actually, the hands of robo...read more ›

by Jessie Donofrio Aug 8, 2017
SPONSORED
Guillermo del Toro and Patron Tequila Collaboration Release

Guillermo del Toro and Patron Tequila Collaboration Release

Guillermo del Toro, Mexican writer, designer, and director for films such as Pan's Labyrinth and Hellboy, is working with Patron Tequila on a new expr...read more ›

by Alexander Frane Aug 1, 2017
Things No One Asked For: The Wine Necklace

Things No One Asked For: The Wine Necklace

Drinking wine can be such a hassle. First, you have to hold the glass in your hand like some kind of animal. Then, if you want to do something with ...read more ›

by Ryan Hudak Aug 1, 2017
Beer Brand Aurosa Makes Beer 'For Women,' Women Say They Already Have a Beer, and It's Called Beer

Beer Brand Aurosa Makes Beer 'For Women,' Women Say They Already Have a Beer, and It's Called Beer

Throw away your beer stash ladies, because a Czech beer company has made the only beer we will need. The compa...read more ›

by Jessie Donofrio Aug 1, 2017
Great American Beer Festival Tickets Go on Sale August 1-2

Great American Beer Festival Tickets Go on Sale August 1-2

The Great American Beer Festival will take place in Denver at the Colorado Convention Center Thursday through Saturday, October 5-7....read more ›

by Carrie Dow Jul 26, 2017
According to Wall Street, Millennials Are Choosing Wine Over Beer

According to Wall Street, Millennials Are Choosing Wine Over Beer

The American financier Goldman Sachs downgraded the stocks of the Boston Beer Company and Constellation Brands this week due to 'sluggish' beer sales ...read more ›

by Jessie Donofrio Jul 25, 2017
A Bunch of Entitled Kids of Big Beer Opened Up Their Own 'Craft' Brewery

A Bunch of Entitled Kids of Big Beer Opened Up Their Own 'Craft' Brewery

If you like your craft beer to lack any kind of authenticity, but make up for that with boundless pretentiousn...read more ›

by Ryan Hudak Jul 25, 2017
There's an Underwater Winery in Croatia & It's as Amazing as it Sounds

There's an Underwater Winery in Croatia & It's as Amazing as it Sounds

Croatia is now home to a unique underwater winery run by Edivo Vina, making it the perfect spot to live out yo...read more ›

by The Drink Nation Jul 25, 2017
SPONSORED
View all Articles

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

Close