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How Wine Fraud Works

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Author's Note: How Wine Fraud Works

I love that experiment where 57 wine drinkers strongly preferred the wine from the fancy bottle over the exact same wine with the generic label. It speaks to human nature and the many ways that our expectations and assumptions interfere with the way our senses process the sights, smells and tastes around us.

That might explain why Robert Parker, the world's most famous wine critic, gushed about the intensely aged flavor of an uncorked Jefferson Bottle, giving it a perfect 100 points, even though the wine was almost certainly a modern concoction mixed up by fraudster Hardy Rodenstock. The "history" of the wine was more powerful than any taste bud. Which makes me wonder, does it really matter if wine is counterfeit? Does it prevent the owner from experiencing the joy of owning a rare delicacy and the thrill of uncorking it for a very special occasion? Not unless you know it's a fake, in which case, maybe it's better not to ask.

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Sources

  • Applied DNA Sciences. "SigNature DNA" (Aug. 15, 2014) http://www.adnas.com/products/signaturedna
  • Forbes. "The World's Billionaires: #393 William Koch" (Aug. 15, 2014) http://www.forbes.com/profile/william-koch/
  • Gannon, Suzanne. "New Ways to Fight Counterfeiters." Wines & Vines. Sept. 2009 (Aug. 15, 2014) http://www.winesandvines.com/template.cfm?section=features&content=66988
  • Gardiner, Sean; and Sharp, Sonja. "Counterfeit Fine-Wine Dealer Sentenced to 10 Years." The Wall Street Journal. Aug. 7, 2014 (Aug. 15, 2014) http://online.wsj.com/articles/rudy-kurniawan-counterfeit-fine-wine-dealer-sentenced-to-10-years-in-prison-for-selling-fake-vintages-1407432096?mod=_newsreel_5
  • Goldstein, Robin. "Are Empty Wine Bottles on eBay Being Used for Counterfeiting?" Freakonomics. June 26, 2009 (Aug. 15, 2014) http://freakonomics.com/2009/06/26/are-empty-wine-bottles-on-ebay-being-used-for-counterfeiting/comment-page-3/
  • Keefe, Patrick Radden. "The Jefferson Bottles." The New Yorker. Sept. 3, 2007 (Aug. 15, 2014) http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2007/09/03/the-jefferson-bottles
  • Nelson, Davia; and Silva, Nikki. "How Atomic Particles Helped Solve a Wine Fraud Mystery." NPR. June 3, 2014 (Aug. 15, 2014) http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/06/03/318241738/how-atomic-particles-became-the-smoking-gun-in-wine-fraud-mystery
  • Steinberger, Michael. "A Vintage Crime." Vanity Fair. July 2012 (Aug. 15, 2014) http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2012/07/wine-fraud-rudy-kurniawan-vintage-burgundies
  • Stephens, Dustin. "Counterfeit wine: A vintage crime." CBS News. Dec. 22, 2013 (Aug. 15, 2014) http://www.cbsnews.com/news/counterfeit-wine-a-vintage-crime/
  • Susman, Tina. "Wine fraudster, Rudy Karniawan, once an L.A. name, gets 10 years." Los Angeles Times. Aug. 7, 2014 (Aug. 15, 2014) http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-wine-sentencing-20140807-story.html

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