New anti-fraud system 'reads' wine in the bottle

fraud News Wine News
  • Friday 18 June 2004

Spanish scientists have just announced a new test which can detect if the wine in the bottle is genuine or not.

Researchers at the University of Seville have developed the technique using a method known as atomic spectrometry, which measures trace metals in the wine - which come from the soil of origin - and then compares the findings to a databank of the wine’s known ‘fingerprints’.

It is thought the system should be particularly useful for combatting Champagne fraud.

Ana Maria Camean, who led the research, said ‘This is a powerful tool for authentication. Our tests produced no negatives’.

Scientists claim the system is 100% accurate, and expect it to replace current anti-fraud measures – bar-coding, etched bottles, intricate labels and most recently, microchip technology – already employed by many Champagne houses and other luxury wine producers around the world.

Hervé Augustin, general manager of Champagne Bollinger told decanter.com, ‘If the test does in fact work, it would be a very useful tool against any attempt at fraud’.

While the incidence of fraud is relatively small in the overall wine market, according to Andrew Gordon, director of London wine merchant Corney and Barrow, ‘There is unquestionably a problem with counterfeit wine which affects the high end of the market’.

Yet fraudulent wine is not just a French phenomenon. Tom Stevenson, author of the New Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia says, 'More than half of the wine - almost 58% - sold as Italian in the US is fake. By fake I mean what's in the bottle is not what's on the label.'

Stevenson's comments are based on the findings of NOMISMA, an Italian economic research institute based in Bologna, which estimates the value of fake Italian wine in the USA alone amounted to U$541m, compared to US$397m for the genuine article.

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