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A Large Portion of Wines Sold Worldwide Are Fake, Experts Say

One authority calls it a counterfeit wine "plague" with "crooks all over the world" to blame.

Whether you're a confident connoisseur or someone who just enjoys sipping wine casually at home, you want to buy what you believe you're buying. However, says a new report, a remarkable percentage of wine sold globally is fake. Here's how some authenticity experts are fighting to make sure you're getting the real deal.

According to a new report from Business Insider, "Experts estimate that about 20% of wine sold worldwide is fake." As just one example, they reference a cheap Sicilian wine that had been recorked and resealed to pose as a wine that sells for around $300 per bottle. It was ready to be shipped to Asia and Russia when Italian police discovered over 40 cases of it stashed inside a Milan warehouse.

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The report also cites the case of an Indonesian man in California who served eight years in federal prison for running a "full-service counterfeiting workshop," with nearly 20,000 fake labels onsite before the FBI busted his operation.


wine bottles

It might seem natural that this kind of scandal would only apply to the thousand-dollar-per-bottle types. Actually, the report states, only a minuscule amount of fraudulent wines are expensive.

In reality, most imposters are stand-ins for "everyday wine targeting unsophisticated customers," the report says. The problem is said to be most pervasive in China, but it's affecting wine consumers everywhere—including the United States. "Crooks all over the world are realizing that counterfeiting trophy wine is highly lucrative and is done in a very low-risk environment," San Francisco-based wine authentication expert, Maureen Downey, told Business Insider. "It's a plague that is not going away."

If you're not that crazy-picky about wine quality factors like the vintage and origin, this may simply be a heads-up on a little wine-buying wisdom. Meanwhile, authorities like Downey are employing a number of measures to help fix this fake wine problem, from implementing microprinting and label watermarks from legitimate makers that are difficult for fakers to duplicate.

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Krissy Gasbarre
Krissy is a senior news editor at Eat This, Not That!, managing morning and weekend news related to nutrition, wellness, restaurants and groceries (with a focus on beverages), and more. Read more about Krissy
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