Usually, wine fraud revolves hugely expensive bottles most of us have never heard of, can’t afford, and will never drink. This week, though, wine fraud hits wines that many of us could drink.
• Wine competition fakes: Those of us who judge wine competitions have always suspected this happened, and it turns out we weren’t far off. The intrepid W. Blake Gray reports that the prestigious Concours Mondial de Bruxelles has two accused two producers of entering a better quality wine in a lesser quality bottle in last year’s competition. Each wine won medals; hence the fraud, since what the the judges tasted wasn’t what was submitted. Said the contest director: “It was really clear that it was not the same wine. It was completely different. The samples in the competition were much different than the samples in the supermarket.” The idea here is not to counterfeit poorly made wine, but to fool everyone and get a medal by substituting better made wine for the plonk.
• Not very Kosher: How about bootlegging Kosher wine at a Montreal synagogue? Police seized 650 cases of Kosher wine at the site, which was being sold to Jews for Passover in violation of the province’s liquor laws. The laws, similar to those in Pennsylvania, require that most wine be sold through stores run by the province, the SAQ stores. But since the stores carry little Kosher wine, it’s not uncommon for Jews to being wine into the province illegally and re-sell it during Jewish holidays. The Quebec liquor cops will have none of that; in 2010, another synagogue in Montreal was charged with illegally bringing in about 1,000 bottles of Kosher wine.
• Bait and switch: A class-action lawsuit claims chain retailer BevMo tricks consumers by using scores for wine in its stores that aren’t the same vintage as the wine being sold. That is, a sign in the store might say the wine got 92 points, even though the score was for a 2014 wine and the sign was being used to sell the 2015 vintage. The BevMo response is classic: It says displays a disclaimer regarding “vintage substitution:” “We always recommend customers check the bottle for vintage if they’re looking for a certain vintage.” Which, to the cynical among us, means the score listed is irrelevant, and implies that it is a trick.