A wine merchant told me a story recently about a customer who wanted to return two cases of 1982 Bordeaux, even though the bottles and labels were in perfect condition. Apparently his customer had served the wine at a dinner with friends and everyone around the table was suspicious of the bottles because the labels and capsules were perfect. They looked new. Moreover, the wine was incredibly fresh and beautiful, like it was 10 years younger.
What his customer didn't know was that the two cases came directly from the cellars of the château. The bottles had been kept in the estate's damp, cool cellars without their labels and capsules, and the château had then put them on the bottles before shipping to the merchant. Thus, the labels and capsules were new.
The wine merchant explained this to his customer. But the guy still wanted his money back. He was sure the bottles were fake.
It's a shame that so many fine wine lovers are now living in fear of fake bottles. I was in Hong Kong about two months ago, and many of the wine collectors talk more about fakes than the actual wines they are supposed to be enjoying. If a wine is too young, it's fake. If a wine doesn't taste right, it's fake. The labels are too new, so it's fake. The labels are too old, so it's fake. If a wine is not theirs, it's fake. It all gets a bit too much in the end.
Obviously, fake bottles, or counterfeits, are a big problem as outlined in our magazine's recent cover story: The Crusade Against Counterfeits (Dec. 15, 2009). And I doubt the problem is ever going to go away. Counterfeits are a big problem with all luxury consumer goods, from watches to handbags to clothes. It's even a bigger problem when a lot of money is involved, like ultra-fine wines.
However, I think that the majority of the wines that we buy and consume are not affected. It's mostly the blue-chip, super-expensive wines-what some call "trophy wines"-that are being faked.
The rest are just fine. We can drink with pleasure and without fear. As I wrote in my column in the Dec. 15 issue, "Drinking a great old wine is one of the most exciting experiences a wine lover can have. ... I am not willing to give that up over the greed and dishonestly of whoever is out there faking wine- and you shouldn¹t either."
I should have written "all wine" and not just "great old wine." Happy Thanksgiving!
Jamie Sherman — Sacramento — November 25, 2009 5:46pm ET
Michael Myette — Sacramento, CA USA — November 25, 2009 6:29pm ET
Matt Scott — Honolulu HI — November 25, 2009 7:41pm ET
Johnny Espinoza Esquivel — Wine World — November 26, 2009 8:36am ET
Lorenzo Erlic — victoria canada — November 26, 2009 3:48pm ET
Vittorio — Italy — November 27, 2009 9:43am ET
John Poggemeyer — Cleveland, OH — November 27, 2009 12:48pm ET
Nick Fafoglia — St. Louis, MO — November 29, 2009 9:24pm ET
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