Sunday, October 15, 2000

What about counterfeiting, forgery and fakes in the wine trade? This is a subject not often written about, as wine is sold on such a weight of dreams that the very idea that trickery could be involved causes all involved in the trade to change the subject. Three facts: 1) the same liquid, for all intents and purposes, can be worth tens or hundreds of times more, depending on where it comes from and who makes it; 2) wine labels and bottles are laughably easy to copy; and 3) the recent economic boom has led to both an increase in the amount of money available for luxuries and the corresponding need for conspicuous consumption. The very nature of the expensive wine business means that there is a very limited supply of the most expensive wines available, and, more importantly, that that supply cannot be increased. It cannot be increased as pricey wine is sold on the basis of the actual tiny plot of land on which its grapes are grown, and the yield of those grape plants is fixed, either by law or custom. Thus, when the number of expensive restaurants and wine collectors goes up extremely quickly, the demand for the wines simply cannot be met legitimately. All one would have to do to track the deception is calculate the cases of wine sold and compare it to the known case production levels for the same year.