Ballantine Beer Leaderboard
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
A New Way to Get in the Holiday 'Spirit': Boozy Advent Calendars
The Drink Nation 2014 Holiday Gift Guide: 25 Gift Ideas for the Enthused Drinkers on Your List
Bars and Restaurants Open on Thanksgiving in Washington, D.C.
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:
 
Bars and Restaurants Open on Thanksgiving in Washington, D.C.

Bars and Restaurants Open on Thanksgiving in Washington, D.C.

These bars and restaurants are cooking up Thanksgiving feasts so you don't have to....read more ›

by Lanna Nguyen Nov 24, 2014
Home Bar Project: How to Make a Whiskey Sour

Home Bar Project: How to Make a Whiskey Sour

Have you ever dreamed of having an amazing home bar, filled with bottles you actually use and the tools you need to execute a finely crafted cocktail?...read more ›

by The Drink Nation Nov 24, 2014
4 Reasons Why Thanksgiving Eve is Biggest Drinking Night of the Year

4 Reasons Why Thanksgiving Eve is Biggest Drinking Night of the Year

Why is Thanksgiving Eve a big party night? It's the perfect storm for drinking fun. ...read more ›

by The Drink Nation Nov 25, 2013
SPONSORED
Find happy hours and drink specials anywhere you are
Countdown to Christmas Like an Adult with a DIY Beer Advent Calendar

Countdown to Christmas Like an Adult with a DIY Beer Advent Calendar

The only chocolate you'll find in this advent calendar is in a Double Chocolate Stout....read more ›

by Ryan Hudak Nov 20, 2014
Beaujolais & Burgers: A Successful Pairing

Beaujolais & Burgers: A Successful Pairing

Almost everyone loves burgers, but what about burgers and wine? Chilled red wine at that!...read more ›

by Swabreen Bakr Nov 18, 2014
Bars with Fireplaces in Washington, D.C.

Bars with Fireplaces in Washington, D.C.

Don't get caught out in a Polar Vortex this winter. These bars have fireplaces to keep you warm all winter long....read more ›

by Lanna Nguyen Nov 17, 2014
DC Bar, Mockingbird Hill, Paves Way for U.S. Sherry Cocktail Revolution
by Marina Cracchiolo Nov 17, 2014
Home Bar Project: How to Make an Old Fashioned

Home Bar Project: How to Make an Old Fashioned

Have you ever dreamed of having an amazing home bar, filled with bottles you actually use and the tools you need to execute a fine crafted cocktail? E...read more ›

by The Drink Nation Nov 17, 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
Le Beaujolais Nouveau Est Arrive!

Le Beaujolais Nouveau Est Arrive!

Beaujolais Nouveau isn't expensive; actually, it's pretty darn affordable....read more ›

by Melissa Auman Greiner Nov 17, 2014
SPONSORED
View all Articles

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

Close