Find happy hours and drink specials anywhere you are

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
spacer

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:
 
A Bunch of Entitled Brewer's Kids Opened Up Their Own 'Craft' Brewery

A Bunch of Entitled Brewer's Kids 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
Sat
Aug 12
SPONSORED
Find happy hours and drink specials anywhere you are
Drinks Decoded: Gin Rickey

Drinks Decoded: Gin Rickey

Get to know the history behind classic drinks as well as where you can find them in the DMV area. This week’s Drinks Decoded takes on The Rickey....read more ›

by Lanna Nguyen Jul 25, 2017
Here's Where You Should Go for National Tequila Day in D.C.

Here's Where You Should Go for National Tequila Day in D.C.

National Tequila Day is around the corner on Monday, July 24! With plenty of ways to celebrate in the city, we've whittled down the options to include...read more ›

by Lanna Nguyen Jul 18, 2017
Things No One Asked For: The Hydrasatch, A Satchel Bag That Holds Mixed Drinks

Things No One Asked For: The Hydrasatch, A Satchel Bag That Holds Mixed Drinks

There's more good news out there for all those people who can’t possibly be without alcohol at their sides a...read more ›

by Ryan Hudak Jul 18, 2017
Flying Dog Terminates Brewers Association Membership, Cries McCarthyism

Flying Dog Terminates Brewers Association Membership, Cries McCarthyism

The Brewers Association, creators of the recently reported on craft brewery logo has lost one of its members: ...read more ›

by Alexander Frane Jul 18, 2017
A Canadian Company is Crowdfunding 'Interesting' Whiskey Stones

A Canadian Company is Crowdfunding 'Interesting' Whiskey Stones

Morgan Street Company out of Ontario is trying to crowdfund a set of 'unique' whiskey stones....read more ›

by Ryan Hudak Jul 18, 2017
Game of Thrones & Ommegang Are Teaming Up For Its Line's Latest Beer, 'Winter Is Here'

Game of Thrones & Ommegang Are Teaming Up For Its Line's Latest Beer, 'Winter Is Here'

Just ahead of the July 16 premiere of HBO's megahit series Game of Thrones, Ommegang has announced its latest ...read more ›

by The Drink Nation Jul 11, 2017
Keep Calm & Carry On This Summer With Pimm's Popsicles

Keep Calm & Carry On This Summer With Pimm's Popsicles

The latest boozy summertime treat is the poshest yet - a U.K. based company is producing Pimm's popsicles....read more ›

by The Drink Nation Jul 11, 2017
SPONSORED
View all Articles

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

Close