Top 5 Wine Frauds
Recent events within the wine industry remind us that fraud can impact its participants and patrons. The question is where does or can the fraud lie in the world of wine? At the very least, certain areas deserve watching.
1. Counterfeit Wine
If you are in the market for the most coveted wines, the First Growths of Bordeaux, or the Grand Cru of Burgundy, the recent “Kurniawan Affair” should inform you that it is a Buyer Beware marketplace. Your best defense against counterfeit wine is a good education, significant research and a reliable vendor.
2. Natural Wine
The idea of a wine being “natural” and the trendy marketing of “natural wine” is fraudulent in the extreme. The term itself, when applied to any wine, is pure marketing and describes nothing concrete. If someone insists the wine they want to sell you is “natural”, turn and run.
3. The “Three Tier System” as the Savior of Consumers
It is no longer uncommon to read that the “amazing” choices possessed by wine consumers in the U.S. is a direct result of the state mandating wine be sold by producers to a wholesalers then to a retailer before it gets to the consumer—otherwise known as the “three-tier system.” This is a fraudulent claim and a perfect example of what is known as the “big lie”. The fact is, the only way for consumers to possess real choice is by going around the state mandated three-tier system and using both remote and local sources to find wine.
4. Fraudulently Labeled Wine
There have been various examples of a wine label claiming the wine in the bottle to be of a particular varietal or from a particular region, when in fact it is not, or the wine is composed only partially of said varietal or region. It’s exceedingly difficult to suss out this kind of fraud.
5. Absurdly Price Restaurant Wines
Some will claim that overpriced restaurant wine is not technically fraud. But I don’t care. It is. When a bottle of wine cost the restaurant $15 and they are selling the same bottle for $60 or $10 a glass (neither is uncommon), then “fraud” is about the kindest thing you can call this practice. Your defense against this kind of fraud is your handy cell phone. Think you are getting ripped off? Look up the retail price of the wine, multiply by .75 and that’s what the restaurant paid—give or take. Then make your own decisions.