Sonoma Trip 2014 Header Ad
Moletto Prosecco Header

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
Trends: Vodka Going Back to Basics
Less Blurry Memories of Tales of the Cocktail 2014 in New Orleans
Drinking Trends at Tales of the Cocktail 2014
spacer
2 Gingers Below Features
From Around The Web

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:
 
Drinking Trends at Tales of the Cocktail 2014

Drinking Trends at Tales of the Cocktail 2014

Some of the trends we noticed, we've seen before, others may never take flight but either way we love what's going on in the hotbed of cocktail trends...read more ›

by Karen Locke Jul 28, 2014
Neighborhood Happy Hour Crawl: Barracks Row

Neighborhood Happy Hour Crawl: Barracks Row

Taking its name from the Marine Barracks at the nearby Navy Yard, Barracks Row has seen a remarkable revitalization within the last decade and is now ...read more ›

by Mara Kurlandsky Jul 28, 2014
Video of Drunk Guy Fighting a Bus Stop Sign Serves as a Good Reminder to Drink Responsibly

Video of Drunk Guy Fighting a Bus Stop Sign Serves as a Good Reminder to Drink Responsibly

Watch as the highly intoxicated dude goes a couple rounds with a completely inanimate object...read more ›

by The Drink Nation Jul 25, 2014
SPONSORED
Find happy hours and drink specials anywhere you are
Beam Suntory Expands Laphroaig Portfolio with the Rollout of Laphroaig Select

Beam Suntory Expands Laphroaig Portfolio with the Rollout of Laphroaig Select

Inspiration for Laphroaig Select comes from both American bourbon traditions and the history and family lineag...read more ›

by The Drink Nation Jul 24, 2014
6 Myths About Tequila Debunked

6 Myths About Tequila Debunked

Tequila has come a long way from its rowdy frat-party and skull-crushing hangover reputation...read more ›

by The Drink Nation Jul 22, 2014
Where to Get in the Holiday Spirit for Christmas in July
by Mara Kurlandsky Jul 21, 2014
Top 5 Spots for Barbecue and Brews in D.C.

Top 5 Spots for Barbecue and Brews in D.C.

Vegetarians beware: this piece contains mountains of mouthwatering meat. ...read more ›

by Mara Kurlandsky Jul 21, 2014
Narragansett Brings Back Iconic 'Jaws' Can

Narragansett Brings Back Iconic 'Jaws' Can

With the rollout of the new retro can, 'gansett's adopting a real live shark ...read more ›

by The Drink Nation Jul 18, 2014
Best Washington, D.C. Brunch Drink Specials

Best Washington, D.C. Brunch Drink Specials

Whether you're trying to get the best of a hangover or simply celebrating the weekend with a bout of day drinking, these bars with breakfast sipping s...read more ›

by Drink DC Feb 10, 2014
File Under Bad Ideas: Beer Made with Sheep Poop

File Under Bad Ideas: Beer Made with Sheep Poop

All that poopy smoke is said to balance the IPA's sharp citrus hop character ...read more ›

by The Drink Nation Jul 17, 2014
SPONSORED
View all Articles

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

Close