Wine Talk

Snooth User: Philip James

eProvenance = the end of wine forgeries?

Posted by Philip James, Mar 26, 2008.

Using multiple RFID chips, tamper proof seals and hidden codes this all sounds pretty serious. What do you think? Personally, even if it doesnt stop wine forgeries totally, i know i'd feel like James Bond when cracking my electronically tagged bottle of wine open.


Reply by Chris Carpita, Mar 26, 2008.

A fella could make a killing selling wine-authentication devices

Reply by Mark Angelillo, Mar 26, 2008.

My guess is that the assurance that your bottle is authentic would serve to raise prices on these fine wines. Right now at the auction the prevalence of forgeries has to contribute to some consumer skepticism.

Reply by gr, Mar 26, 2008.

Yeah, because it's impossible to spoof RFID... oh, wait.

Raising the bar's not a bad idea, though. It's far too easy to do this with wine right now, and easy to get away with it (even if you could taste the difference, maybe it was just an "off bottle").

Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Mar 26, 2008.

We've already seen holograms and other similar technology appear on the back of wine labels to combat fraud. However, the larger problem remains:

-In the Eastern world, top wines (especially Classified Bordeaux) are selling as status symbols to new elites where money is no object. Many of these consumers don't care much for the taste of the wine (or, really, whether its legit). A few years ago, they found that much of the Canadian Ice Wine for sale in Taiwan was just adulterated windshield washer fluid - yum!

-In the Western world, enormous quantities of 1980s and 1990s Bordeaux are changing hand at auction. I think every bottle of 1982 Petrus has now been sold an average of 2.34 times! We need someone to step up and help authenticate all of this wine!

So putting RFID on your 2007 Chateau Margaux won't get very far... and as gr says, the good bad guys will just spoof it!

Reply by gr, Mar 27, 2008.

RBoulanger, I'm pretty sure proving the provenance of wines already in circulation is an impossible problem. Pretty much the only way to do that is to have an experienced palate taste it, which means opening the bottle, which destroys its auction value... and exposes the fact that, even if it were what it claimed to be, it might very well already be vinegar (which I expect the aged wine auction industry would prefer that people didn't think about all that much).

Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Mar 27, 2008.

gr, actually it isn't as impossible as it sounds. Auction houses have developed many methods that don't involve opening the wine - including detailed analysis of the glass bottle, foil, cork, and label and cross-checking this information with that provided by the producer. However, this detailed analysis is rarely carried out in the rush to auction.

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