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  • Megha Chorawala

Bordeaux region wins case in China

Updated: Oct 16



The latest news in wine counterfeiting is that recently Bordeaux Wine Council (CIVB) along with Chengdu authorities were able to solve case of wine fraud happened in March 2019 at China Food and Drinks Fair in Chengdu, China.


But let’s understand why Chinese people like red wine so much.

Marketing tool is the strongest in China and is used economically and culturally. There are many symbolic indications in their roots such as with the country flag, it is in red color. They believe that, red brings positivity, abundant wealth and power along with happiness in family and a generator for romance. A toast in the business environment will always happen with red wine in people’s hand and everyone will say Ganbei (Cheers!), clinking their glasses and wishing success to each other. Many exports of red wine such as Burgundy, Bordeaux and Cabernet Sauvignon will be found in warehouses and in many restaurants and bars too. There is so much more of red wine than white wine because there is also a symbolic meaning attached to it as well i.e. sadness. People will start comparing with red wines based on appealing as well.


Red wines dominate in Chinese market, and a society who drinks red wine tells a lot about their wealthy lifestyle. But where exported wines gain so much popularity, at the same time many wicked ideas begin to form in relation with the production of counterfeit wines and the sale in the same market. Chinese market alone can sell 70 per cent of fake wines on websites, which is a huge problem for wine exporters. Now China imports the majority of wines from France and Australia and it hosts ‘China Food and Drink Fair’ in Chengdu, China, once every year. There is participation of old and new world wines from many countries in that expo. And in March 2019, a case of Bordeaux wine counterfeiting was lodged. As per in the news, the wine forger was auctioning the fake Bordeaux wines at Chengdu Wine Fair.


Now, there is not much information on how he did it, there is no back-story in the news yet but in this article, I would be sharing on different ways a forger will fake any wine from vintage to current collection.


Right now, people have come up with dozens of shortcuts and hacks to process the manufacturing of fake wine. Borderline, it has become so dangerous that people can die if they consume false products; food or wine. If you want to learn how make fake products and also get away with it without getting caught, China is currently crushing that list. But seriously, don’t ever do it. I mean China is being the best in what they do in creating the false products and according to Volodzko (2015) “Almost 70 percent of all counterfeits seized globally came from China between 2008 and 2010.” That is a lot of misguidance and misinterpretation.


But there are different main stages which are prominently used in forging wine. The most noteworthy and EASY technique is refilling the empty bottles where the input is very cheap compared to the vast collection of income by selling it. There was a case in Beijing where there was huge demand for empty bottles of Lafite Rothschild according to Moore (2011) and a buyer paid 2,900 yuan which is equivalent to almost 583 Australian Dollar. This led to a popular demand of empty wine bottles with label attached to it from restaurants and bars in exchange for a great deal of money. As it is a common and cheap way, the counterfeiter didn’t need to have vintner skills and can fill it up with cheap fruit juice added with a colorant, sweetener and were being creative in their own way which later would be sold to uneducated and unsuspecting people.


Labeling is another way in counterfeit industry. Apparently, there is usually the production of Bai-Ban which mean unbranded bottles where after the forger acquires a real looking and genuine label from the black market with relevant information such as year, origin, production site, verification etc. (Fu, 2016), it is then stuck to the bottle and sold to people.

Another tactic is re-labeling where the imitator replicates and replace the label of the genuine wines and attach the label to cheap false wine. And that is sold at high price.

It has come to notice to many literary individuals, and they have pointed out that, it is easy to fool consumers in China because of multiple reasons. First, they might not have seen an original bottle, or they must have not heard the vineyard name, ever. Secondly, the people lack wine knowledge about the bottle look, its taste, label awareness, knowledge about the vineyard and where is it coming from. Also, they must be unaware about the real price as well. Thus, its consumer loss in front of counterfeits profits.


Coming back to the highlight of the news, the wine counterfeiter in Chengdu is found to be guilty for forging 10,000 wines and his wine display was a big sham after all. He is currently in prison serving his 18-month sentence with a fine charged of 150,00 yuan (approximately 31,000 Australian Dollars) by the court in Shanghai.


Even our E-Bottli CEO, Nathalie Taquet shared her knowledge by putting a light on global wine industry where the counterfeits are estimated to reach $4.3 trillion by 2022 and due to COVID, many wine cartels are taking benefits by disrupting the supply chain. But with E-Bottli, any vineyard in Australia can benefit and get support from the company. Fassam & Dani (2017) proposed that “Information sharing, for example, helps to holistically connect supply chains in the counterfeiting trade, which allows law enforcement to work seamlessly.”


We too believe that!

So, join our community and together we can be stronger with our shields up.

References:

  1. Berry, K 2020, ‘New tech protects wine from $4.3T fraud risk’, Food&Drink Business, 17 June. Available at:

https://www.ebottli.com/post/new-tech-protects-wine-from-4-3t-fraud-risk

  1. Mercer, C 2020, ‘First conviction’ over fake Bordeaux wines in China’, Decanter, 25 June. Available at:

https://www.decanter.com/wine-news/counterfeit-bordeaux-wines-china-conviction-440392/

  1. Shen, A 2018, ‘Being affluent, one drinks wine’: Wine counterfeiting in mainland China. International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy 7(4): 16‐32. DOI: 10.5204/ijcjsd.v7i4.1086. Available at:

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/329422686_'Being_Affluent_One_Drinks_Wine'_Wine_Counterfeiting_in_Mainland_China

  1. Verot, O 2012, ‘WHY CHINESE LIKE RED WINE?’, Marketing To China, 5 December. Available at:

https://www.marketingtochina.com/why-chinese-like-red-wine/

  1. Volodzko, D 2015, ‘China’s Addiction to Counterfeiting’, The Diplomat, 17 October. Available at:

https://thediplomat.com/2015/10/chinas-addiction-to-counterfeiting/


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