Sunday, April 16, 2006

Waiter, this wine is ... fake

Counterfeit wine and alcoholic beverages continue to be a growing health and financial problem. Instances of fake wine, liquor, and beer are cropping up worldwide, and it's no longer just fake expensive French vintages.

  • Recently Russia has cracked down on imports of Georgian wine, finding that 50-80% of the famous beverage is fake. Often these fakes are alcoholic cocktails laced with dyes and flavors, and perhaps a trace of fermented grape to try to fool the inexperienced nose.
  • Fake Eiswein claiming to be from Canada has put a serious freeze on sales in China. Four years ago, China was a promising market for Canadian ice wine. In 2001, one Beijing-based importer was selling 50 to 100 bottles of Canadian ice wine every month, despite the high price of the product. By 2004, the importer's sales of Canadian ice wine have fallen to less than one-fifth of their 2001 level, largely because the pirated ice wines have grabbed control of the market. Furthermore, the poor quality of the fake product has ruined the reputation in this burgeoning market.
  • A recent study by the State Administration for Industry and Commerce in China found nearly 60% of "foreign-brand" liquor found in four major Chinese cities is fake. Often these liquors contain industrial alcohol or formaldehyde - and can be fatal. The counterfeiters were able to copy the anti-counterfeit labels, too.