Tag Archives: wine

Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Food Fraud Quick Bites

Le Bordeaux, C’est Si Beau!

By Susanne Kuehne
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Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Food fraud, Bordeaux, wine
Find records of fraud such as those discussed in this column and more in the Food Fraud Database.
Image credit: Susanne Kuehne

This kind of lead must weigh heavily on the minds of food and beverage fraudsters. The quantity of lead isotopes and elemental lead can be used to determine the geographic origin and vintage of a wine and therefore determine whether the wine is from a specific location. The isotopic profiles of genuine Bordeaux wines were compared to suspicious bottling. The fake wines were clearly identified to be from different locations and vintages than claimed on the labels.

Resources

  1. Taylor, P. (September 16, 2019). “Lab technique spots fake Bordeaux wines”. Securing Industry.
  2. Epova, E. (January 15, 2020). “Potential of lead elemental and isotopic signatures for authenticity and geographical origin of Bordeaux wines”. Food Chemistry.

 

Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Food Fraud Quick Bites

A Case Of Fake Wine Classification

By Susanne Kuehne
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Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Bordeaux, fraud
Find records of fraud such as those discussed in this column and more in the Food Fraud Database.
Image credit: Susanne Kuehne

Based on a classification system that was established more than 150 years ago, wines from the world-renowned region of Bordeaux can fetch high prices and enjoy a high degree of recognition and popularity. The Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux (CIVB) and Chinese authorities set a precedent by sentencing a wine supplier for offering fake “Bordeaux” wines. Nearly 10,000 bottles of mislabeled “Bordeaux” wines were seized, and the guilty judgment included fines and a suspended prison sentence.

Resource

  1. Taylor, P. (June 30, 2020). “Bordeaux wine body wins key counterfeit lawsuit in China”. Securing Industry.
Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Food Fraud Quick Bites

A Little Kiwi Birdie Told Me

By Susanne Kuehne
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Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Food fraud, New Zealand wine
Find records of fraud such as those discussed in this column and more in the Food Fraud Database.
Image credit: Susanne Kuehne

New Zealand is known for its premier, high quality wine industry, enjoying a steady growth for the past several years. Even just one isolated case like the one reported here can hurt the reputation of an entire country’s wine industry. The Ministry of Primary Industries in New Zealand found that a large wine producer in New Zealand is responsible for falsely blending wines, as well as mislabeling the vintage and origin of the wines. The wines do not pose any health risks but due to the damaging nature to the New Zealand wine industry, this fraud is being punished by a hefty fine and other sentences.

Resources

  1. Radio New Zealand (March 13, 2020). “Wine fraud: Southern Boundary Wines fined $1.7m”.
  2. Shermand, E. (August 4, 2017). “New Zealand Winery Accused of Wine Fraud in Landmark Case“. Food & Wine.
Karen Everstine, Decernis
Food Fraud Quick Bites

Fraud in Alcoholic Beverages

By Karen Everstine, Ph.D.
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Karen Everstine, Decernis

Recently, a group of researchers published a paper that documented unique chemical “fingerprints” left by whiskies after evaporation that could be used to identify the origin (specifically, American whiskeys in relation to Scotch and Irish whiskies.) Authentication of value-added label attributes in wine and spirits is important for protection of producers, brands and markets. Other examples include varietal fraud and geographic indication misrepresentation with wines and counterfeit production (intellectual property infringement) of a variety of spirits.

Food Fraud, wine
The Food Fraud Database has captured 220 incidents of fraud involving all alcoholic beverages and 63 specifically involving wines. (Source: Grape Wall of China)

Unfortunately, alcoholic beverages are also prone to fraud involving the addition of substances that can cause illness or death. This often happens at the local level, with the production of “moonshine” or other unlicensed spirits. Some of the substances used have included methanol, isopropyl alcohol and industrial-grade alcohol.
One notable incident from the 1980s had global implications and severe market effects. Diethylene glycol was added to Austrian wines, resulting in recalls around the world when the adulteration was detected. Fortunately, no illnesses or deaths were reported. Just a year later, methanol added to Italian wine caused both hospitalizations and deaths. More recently, incidents involving the addition of methanol to spirits have caused deaths in India, China and Malaysia.

Authentication and traceability for alcoholic beverages, and specifically wines, lend themselves to technology-enabled solutions such as blockchain. On a lighter note, take a look at some of the labels documented by reporters covering the wine market in China. In a high value marketplace such as the wine business, there is no end to creativity in labeling.

Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Food Fraud Quick Bites

In That Wine, There Is No Truth

By Susanne Kuehne
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Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Wine, Decernis Food Fraud database
Find records of fraud such as those discussed in this column and more in the Food Fraud Database.
Image credit: Susanne Kuehne.

Booze bootleggers are still quite active since there is a lot of money exchanging hands in the high-end wine and liquor business. Fake premium Penfolds wines, which can fetch several hundred dollars per bottle, as well as acclaimed brands of adulterated whisky, were discovered and seized in a liquor store in Cambodia. Besides the fake beverages, the raid also uncovered fake labels and packaging materials.

Resource

  1. Australian Associated Press (November 28, 2019). “Fake Penfolds wine seized in raid on bootlegging operation in Cambodia”.The Guardian.

 

 

Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Food Fraud Quick Bites

Not in Good Spirits

By Susanne Kuehne
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Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Food fraud, brandy
Find records of fraud such as those discussed in this column and more in the Food Fraud Database. Image credit: Susanne Kuehne

Fake brandy based on corn distillate was purchased by a Spanish company based in Georgia and was exported to other EU countries with falsified documentation. Fortunately, this alcohol fraud did not pose a health hazard like many other alcohol fraud cases. However, the economic gain for the fraudulent brandy was going to be huge, since a volume of 4 million liters of “brandy” was exported. EU regulations state that brandy is supposed to be based on wine distillate only, which costs up to four times more than distillate made from corn.

Resources

  1. Herraiz, P. El Mundo (September 16, 2019). “La trama del brandy español falsificado exportó cuatro millones de litros ilegalmente”.
Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Food Fraud Quick Bites

In Wine, There Is Not Always Truth

By Susanne Kuehne
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Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Wine
Records involving wine fraud can be found in the Food Fraud Database. Image credit: Susanne Kuehne

Three arrests were made and at least 11,000 bottles of red wine labeled high-quality IGT Toscana wines have been seized in Italy for containing lower quality wines and fraudulent labeling, misrepresenting the wine’s geographic origin. The investigation was taken to the Europol level in conjunction with German and Italian law enforcement authorities.

Resource

Authorities shutdown international wine fraud operation; three in Italy arrested. Food Safety News. Accessed February 19, 2019.

Paul Dewsbury, B.Sc.
In the Food Lab

Is that Pricey Wine the Real Deal? Using IRMS to Detect Fraud

By Paul Dewsbury
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Paul Dewsbury, B.Sc.

By Paul Dewsbury, B.Sc.

Upon conducting some online research to find a nice bottle of wine to bring to a party, I became distracted by a story about the world’s most expensive wine, priced at an eye-watering $195,000. With just a few clicks, I uncovered stories about auctioning a single bottle of wine for more than $300,000, and a case of 114 bottles selling for a record $1.6 million. Some of the reasons for the huge sums invested in pricey wines include rarity, social status of owner (aka famous), vintage, and perhaps most importantly, region and vineyard.

Ever the analytical chemist, I wondered, how do buyers identify whether that the extravagant bottle of wine they’re purchasing is the real thing? Perhaps the serious wine collectors out there could benefit from having an isotope ratio mass spectrometer (IRMS) in their cellar! But seriously, could IRMS play a role in authenticity testing?

Testing for Authenticity and Geographic Origin of Wine

Increasingly, fraud surrounding the provenance of wine has become a problem. Last year, a man was sentenced to 10 years in prison for selling millions of dollars of counterfeit wine. He not only created fake labels, but he also mixed and blended lower-priced wines to imitate the taste and character of rare and much more expensive wines.

An article published last year about the authenticity and geographic origin of wine discusses the results of investigating the stable isotope composition (C and O) of wine samples.1 The authors claim to have found significant isotope variations within samples from the same country as well as between samples from different countries.

¹³C and Simultaneous ¹⁸O and ²H Isotope Analysis in Ethanol with Thermo Scientific DELTA V Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometers is also a useful resource, as it defines the configuration required for such testing. The method demonstrates excellent results and could be quite suitable for origin testing of wine. Isotopic analysis of wine has become a widespread tool to evaluate the quality, authenticity and origin of labeled products. This application note shows the ability and performance of the analysis of ethanol with combustion and with a high temperature carbon reduction technique in combination with a DELTA V IRMS. With this configuration, the ethanol can be analyzed for oxygen and carbon isotope composition. The analysis allows for the quantification of exogenous sugar added during the fermentation process, which is used to increase the alcohol content of the wine. This control is also needed for the detection of frauds, such as mislabeling regarding both ingredients and origin.

Most laboratories will seek alternative or complimentary techniques for authenticating wine. A few months ago, I blogged about using an ion chromatography method to verify the authenticity of your wine. I was also captivated by the poster, Related Seasonal and Geographical Differences in Wine from California’s Central Coast, which describes how a high performance liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (LC-MS) configuration was successfully implemented to analyze several wine varieties from different areas to show simultaneous detection and relative quantification of the wine’s components.

Wine authenticity is a fascinating subject, and I will leave you with this unbelievable but true story. In 1989, a bottle of 1787 Château Margaux from Thomas Jefferson’s wine collection was valued at more than $500,000 by its owner, William Sokolin, a New York wine merchant. At a dinner, it was accidentally knocked over and broke. What’s more,  the insurers paid $225,000 for the loss of the wine.

And to get back to where I started—I went to the supermarket and picked up a cheap bottle of wine. I don’t think anyone was the wiser, either.

References

1. Horacek, M., Papesch, W., Ogrinc, N., Magdas, A., Wunderlin, D., and
Misurovic, A. (2014). Control of Authenticity and Geographic Origin of Austrian, Slovenian,Romanian, Montenegrin and Argentinean wine, Geophysical Research Abstracts, 14. Retrieved from: http://www.josephinum.at/fileadmin/content/BLT/Puplikationen/1444-00_E.pdf.