‘20% of all wine in the world is fake’ – this expert’s guide will save you a fortune

Last month we placed the fake wines coming out of China under the microscope, asking our followers if they could spot the two fakes from the real deal. Alarmingly, very few people could tell the difference. Counterfeits are a big concern for all wine brands, and not just for Australia’s most iconic brand Penfolds. According to fraud experts, 20% of all wine currently circulating the globe is fake.

With that in mind, I reached out to Australia’s Scott Evers of www.wineauthentication.com.au to help us understand the world of counterfeit wine. Scott is one of only eight people globally  to be mentored by the world’s leading wine fraud expert, Maureen Downey. When fully qualified, Scott will become a TCM Licensed Wine Authenticator. With Maureen’s unparalleled training backing him up, Scott offers this invaluable advice every winelover in the world should heed.

Drew (Wine Wankers): How prevalent are fake wines these days?

Scott Evers: 20% of all wine currently circulating the globe is fake (which is in line with all luxury goods). This is actually a conservative figure and the number is growing each year. It’s not just rare wines that are counterfeited, many more ‘commercial’ wines are now also being counterfeited.

Drew: What’s the easiest way to tell if a wine is fake?

Scott: A bad fake is obvious on first look…. Poor print, wrong paper, misspellings, missing info etc. ‘better’ fakes require experienced authenticators to examine bottles more closely.

Drew: Which wine is the most forged in the world?

Scott: For older wine, the most counterfeited producer is between DRC & Petrus, but Lafite and d’Yquem are up there as well. For a particular bottling of wine, 1945 Mouton is probably most counterfeited. In Asia, Penfolds Grange and Bin 707 are the most highly counterfeited, along with Lafite. The counterfeit trend today is for more current vintages and recent releases of very high-end Burgundy and Bordeaux.

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Drew: Is it easier to forge wines these days with the advent of digital printing?

Scott: Yes of course

Drew: What are the top tips for buying genuine wine?

Scott: I have a number of tips but most of it is common sense

  1. Purchase direct from the producer;
  2. Only purchase from merchants who have zero history of selling counterfeits;
  3. Only buy from vendors (auction houses, retailers etc) who can prove the stories of provenance they are telling or have trained authenticators either directly employed or who are a third party consulting to them. (Remember a piece of paper claiming provenance can easily be counterfeited too and this generally is NOT enough proof!);
  4. Only buy wines that have been formally authenticated and registered in the Chai Wine Vault block chain as this guarantees the provenance for the lifetime of that bottle.  Also, look at who merchants are associated with and the company they keep. People who stand alongside merchants/people that knowingly sell counterfeits is a cause for alarm.

Drew: Why is Maureen Downey the world’s best wine fraud expert?

Scott: Many reasons, but this will give you the best info on her https://www.winefraud.com/about-us/team/maureen-downey/. [You cannot cut and paste this exert unfortunately]

Drew: What’s one secret that she’s taught you that you were blown away by?

Scott: That most infamous wine counterfeiters (Rudy Kurniawan etc) unknowingly leave a mark/footprint on their work that is evident across all of their counterfeits. So, experienced authenticators often ascertain as to where/who that fake has come from once they stumble across that common mark.

Drew: What kind of wine are counterfeiters putting in the bottles?

Scott: It varies. Some use other, lesser vintages of the same wine. Some use a combination of cheap wines and flavour additives. Some use a blend of other valuable, but certainly lesser than the bottle they are purporting to represent as authentic. Here are a couple of specific examples that Maureen Downey has come across – I.e. – Marcassin Pinot Noir + other wine, for 1945 DRC Romanee-Conti. Or Duckhorn merlot + Liberty Bay Cellars merlot, + something old for 1940’s/50’s Pomerol. One important point to note is that an unsuspecting buyer does not know what is in a counterfeited wine. This is scary when you consider there are cases where people have died from drinking counterfeited wine! I’ve had very wealthy businessman say to me “oh well, even if it’s a fake wine our VIP guests at the table will see this DRC bottle as being authentic, its more about image and impressing our clients so we will enjoy drinking the wine regardless” – You could imagine the look on their faces when I tell them the story of people dying from drinking fake wine!

Drew: Do you ever use a Coravin to test a wine to see if it’s the real deal – and if so, does it decrease the value of the wine or increase because tasting reveals the quality if good [note: Coravin is a wine preserving system that inserts a needle into the top of allowing wine to be extracted from a bottle without uncorking – it replaces the wine with an inert gas]

Scott: No never, and this is a very important point – Taste is not a measure of authenticity. No one can taste for authenticity. If they could, convicted counterfeiters like Rudy Kurniawan, Hardy Rodenstock, Kahled Rouabab, and Alexandre Lubov etc would not have been able to be so prolific! And yes – piercing with a Coravin destroys the value. Sadly, it is also now a counterfeiting technique by which people drain and refill bottles! Also, again reiterating my point above, you do not know what has been put in a counterfeit bottle of wine, so I for one would certainly not want to taste it if there were red flags to its authenticity.

Drew: Which wine brand has the best security measures in place to stop counterfeiters?

Scott: Ha, the ones counterfeiters do not know about! Maureen and all trainees are abundantly protective of the information we know, and as mentioned Maureen is teaching the very small group of TCM Certified Authenticator trainees (myself included), about the measures producers are using to counter fraud. If we make that public, it is a huge disservice to the producers we are trying to assist! In general, what I can say is that many producers layer anti-fraud technologies, and do not rely on one thing to protect them.

Drew: What’s an average day for a wine fraud investigator look like?

Scott: Not as glamourous as some people may think! Long hours, hard, exhausting and repetitious work, often dirty… but also intriguing, fascinating and you get to meet many fellow wine lovers and incredible cellars around the world! There is a lot of paperwork and repetition required for formal authentication of wines (and sadly not enough drinking), so it’s not all glamour and romance!

Drew: What are some of the tools of your trade?

Scott: Lighting, magnification, measuring, cutting, cleaning, photography…..and a deep knowledge of wine, producers, packaging, technologies/changes, classification systems, food and beverage laws in respective countries, forensic techniques etc

Drew: How expensive are you to hire?

Scott: I am not yet fully trained, so am not yet taking clients for authentication and charging yet…. It is currently being worked out in our business model, but it will be in line with what Maureen and her company charges. I will be offering many different services at different price points. My company called Wine Authentication is registered and we have a website www.wineauthentication.com.au, however I will not start taking clients until I am TCM Master Authenticator qualified and licensed.

Drew: Have you ever been wrong?

Scott: I haven’t started ‘formally’ authenticating yet. That said, I am learning from the best in Maureen Downey who to date has not been proven wrong! The TCM Formal Reporting Methods we use are thorough and exhaustive. We use a 90+ point system to authenticate each bottle, along with other inspection methods required in a laboratory.

Drew: Do you offer a money back guarantee – if so, how does that work?

Scott: Authentication is an art, not a science. I will offer my professional opinion of authenticity. Each client will be presented and agree to a personalized/tailor-made job contract. What I will do is assure clients that I will render findings that I have formally prepared to defend in a court of law, for insurance purposes etc if required. It is our expertise and the rarity of the skill set that our clients are getting.



  1. With music and movies going off into cyberspace, the tape, CD and DVD counterfeiting business must have taken as much of a hit as the record producers did. I wouldn’t have thought of wine as a market for counterfeiting, but it makes sense. For some reason, I don’t think we’ll be downloading wine from cyberspace for awhile.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post, a little terrifying to wrap my head around. So how would we know if the Pinot isn’t so, or if the Cabernet or Chardonnay isn’t all the labels say, or worse, if the Sauvignon’s laced with poison? My wine budget doesn’t go to the price range where I’d think it would be worth trying to fake it, and certainly not to the range I’d think I’d need insurance or professional help… wellll, maybe I need professional help, but that’s a different barrel of bacchanalia, isn’t it? Here’s to hoping I need Scott or Maureen, and can afford to hire them, very soon!~DM


    • my advice – keep buying your wine from reputable shops. And when it comes to everyday wines, you only need to worry if you live in questionable countries renowned for counterfeiting – most western countries should be fine.


    • Hi there, as I mentioned in the article, it depends on how bad/good the counterfeit is. A bad counterfeit is very easy to spot, even for the novice. The good counterfeits are a lot harder to spot. Commercial wines stand a much lower chance of being counterfeited, although they are on the rise. For example, Angelina Jole and Brad Pitts 20 Euro wines were counterfeited recently in China, read here: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/brad-pitt-and-angelina-jolies-wine-being-copied-by-chinese-counterfeiters-10182074.html.

      The reality is that counterfeiting both commercial and rare wine is on the rise and our mandate is to get these counterfeited wines and perpetrators out of the market as soon as possible.

      Establish a good relationship with your local retailer and buy from them if you cannot purchase direct from the producer, that’s your best bet. If consuming/collecting Rare Wines, then a lot more risk management is necessary.

      If interested, follow my Facebook company page @WineAuthentication, where I post new counterfeit stories and anything relevant for viewers to read.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. …hmm!

    “20%” is a bit high. Think about it – WHY would it be that high? 20% of the world’s wines are not Super Premium, so why counterfeit them?

    UNLESS of course he is referring to the “House Brands” used these days by retail giants like Woolworths. These wines are drinkable, but pretend to be something they are not!


      • Hello Scott,

        I will stand by my logic and maths.

        Addressing the Telegraph article – during my career, I have experienced many times, the wider Press getting hold of the same piece of misinformation and spreading it like “Chinese Whispers” (no pun intended).

        The top ten wine producing countries alone make the equivalent of 2,444 million 9 litre cases per year. Are you telling me that the world has at least 489 million cases of fake wine in circulation?

        I think you may mean 20% of the world’s SUPER PREMIUM wine…

        Richard Warland R.D.Oen. M.Oe.
        Visiting Expert, Burgundy School of Business & Sonoma State University Wine Business Institute


    • Yes and it’s getting worse by the day. Your friends may find my posts on current cases and all things Wine Authentication and Fraud interesting. I regularly post these on my Facebook Company page @WineAuthentication and my company page on LinkedIn.


      • Your comments are now starting to become offensive Silk Road Reversed. You are in the minority of your thinking and regardless, you have made your point pretty clear already. Silver screenings I’m happy to speak to you or your friends privately if you have any queries.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Scott I apologise unreservedly if any of my comments have offended you personally.

        However (My English teacher told me that “one” should never start a sentence with “However”)

        …I stand by my numbers.

        If you can refute my calculations I will be happy to go with you!


    • Hello alcohaulsingapore,

      You and all readers will find these articles interesting. Silk Road Reversed’s comments are correct in stating that the 20% figure relates to Fine Wine (but its not only Fine Wine). He is, however incorrect in his view that the overall wine market of counterfeits is significantly less than this. Over the past few years, the amount of ‘commercial wine’ counterfeits coming out of China alone is extraordinary. Silks Road Reversed’s figures he quoted in earlier comments do not take into account the amount of this counterfeit wine circling the globe.

      Here are some articles:

      20% of ALL Wine’s Sold are Counterfeit:


      50% of wine in China is fake:


      5% of wines at auction are fake:


      30% alcohol is fake; 20% of ALL wine is fake – quoted by Wine Spectator experts:


      Nick Bartman says 70% of ALL Chinese wine is fake:


      Total Value of Wine Market Globally

      $304B (USD) up 17.9% since 2011 (Business Wire)
      Fine Wine represents 5-7% total global wine industry annually. (Mordor Intelligence)

      With these stats, 5% of $304B market is $15B and 20% of this market being fake is $3B fake fine wine in the market. With the amount counterfeits now being produced at the commercial end of the market, the counterfeit figure of ALL wine is around the 20% mark – and its growing!


      • Scott, do you realise what your self-serving posts are doing to our wine industry?

        I am tiring of this discussion, so you might win, but I will ensure that the Australian industry is made aware of your unhelpful contribution to consumer confidence.

        The articles you refer to above are mixed and confused in their message. In a number of cases the same quote has been reproduced out of context.

        I maintain that we are talking about FINE WINE.

        Think about it – France alone sells 22 million 9 litre cases of Vin de Pays per year. Add to that the bottled Vins Ordinaire & VDP equivalent of Spain, Italy, Germany, Argentina, Chile, the USA and Australia and many lesser producers. Why would anyone want to counterfeit these wines?

        Yes China may have a high number of wines with fake labels, (and that will change as the Chinese become more wine aware, as it has with Designer Goods) but China’s total annual sales of bottled wine are only around 130 million cases.

        Each year the world buys around 2.7 Billion cases of wine. Even if 50% of the bottled wine sold in China was fake (which it is not – I lived and worked there for 9 years by the way) that amounts to 2% of the worlds wine sales
        Please let’s end this debate. You have plenty to do detecting high-end fakes, so please don’t scare consumers with the idea that 20% of ALL bottled wine is counterfeit!


      • Scott, at the risk of ‘poking the bear’, I make a point of teaching my students a valuable lesson in my first class: ‘The importance of using quality data’. I start by asking them all to write down, on average, what the delay is between consumers drinking wine after they’ve purchased it. I also ask them how confident they are of their estimates. The results are that their values differ greatly, yet they’re all confident of their estimates because someone in the wine trade told them those numbers….

        Kind of like your opinion-based, yet empirically questionable, quotes from well-meaning individuals above. Even the quote on the 20% value is from a group called ‘the elite Grand Cru producers’, of Burgundy and Bordeaux. Hardly your average wine consumer’s tipple….

        The numbers from Business Wire don’t hold up to Euromonitor, or the OIV figures (http://www.oiv.int/public/medias/5479/oiv-en-bilan-2017.pdf) either. The relation between their 17.9% increase could be the value figures for wine from 2011-16, but these were based on export numbers, and not the total value of the wine market.

        If you can find some empirically supported evidence that these 20% estimates are for the entire wine market, I’d be concerned. However, based on what has been posted above, I’d suggest we need to take the heat out of this topic, instead of casting assertions at a potentially damaging message on the wine market.

        Best from California,
        Damien Wilson
        Hamel Chair of the Wine Business Institute
        Sonoma State University


  4. Scott, you say yourself that “Commercial wines stand a much lower chance of being counterfeited, although they are on the rise.”
    That comment alone should be enough to demolish your contention that 20% of *all* wine is counterfeit, and linking to an old Telegraph post about Mouton Rorthschild fakery, by a writer who misspells Pinot Noir hardly supports your argument.
    At least 95% of the world’s wine fits into that ‘commercial’ category.
    Wine is one of the most heavily regulated products on earth. The French govt has huge volumes of data on the distribution of every drop of wine produced i that country.
    Every now and then, there’s a minor scandal when a producer sells a few batches of IGP as AOP, but it’s rare – and swiftly uncovered – like supermarkets selling horse instead of beef.
    I go to China quite often, and yes it’s more of a Wild West there. And I’d even accept that 20% of the wine *there* might be fake – but that wouldn’t help you get to your 20% global figure.


  5. 20% sounds way off to me. And how can you seriously draw a parallel between “all wine” and “all luxury goods”? Let’s talk about luxury wine, and what proportion of that might be fake, but before doing that you need to define luxury wine. And what really gets me is how people spout numbers like these as it if they are facts. Who really knows how much fake wine is out there? How can you quantify it?


    • These are good questions to ask Huon – have you come across many fakes in your days? Have you investigated this area much for the SMH or travelled through China to see the issue first hand? As maureen says below in the comments…. “In 2002/2003, when I first caught Rudy Kurniawan, Eric Greenberg and John Kapon of Acker Merrall and Condit knowingly selling counterfeit wine – I was attacked in the same manner. ‘Cant Be!’ ‘NO! Not them! They are great guys!’ ‘You are just jealous/vindictive/being Chicken Little!’ I used to naysayers, and deniers. I have been dedicated to this aspect of the industry since 2000, I know the reality of the problem, and I am very used to the denial.

      It took a decade for Rudy to get arrested, and another year for the Greenberg truths to come out in court. I was right about all of that, and continue to be vindicated about Acker Merrall & Condit’s sale of counterfeit wines. Fail to believe the truth of the scope of the problem at your own peril. David Doyle in Australia purchased $15.5 million from Rudy K direct. Where is that wine?”


      • Hi Drew,
        I’m not a naysayer or a denier, nor I think are most of those who have questioned the 20% figure. I just found it hard to believe, but having read all the comments with interest and especially Maureen’s lengthy comment today, I am more prepared to believe it than I was!

        Liked by 1 person

      • We’ve known each other for 20 years this year – and I’ve always looked up to you as one of the world’s best wine journalists! Thanks for you thoughts Huon! Im honoured to have your contribution on our little blog! 🙂


  6. HI Silk Road Reversed – firstly – thanks for your passionate debate here with Scott. It’s very important you realise Scott didn’t approach me to write this article – I approached him, after he commented on the original David Brookes Penfolds 389 post on the Wine Wankers LinkedIn page. Scott is being trained by the world’s leading expert in wine fraud. He is more an expert in this area than I will ever be and he has backed up all his claims with evidence from the world’s most influential wine publications. I also appreciate where you are coming from as well – the numbers are extraordinary.
    I take it you live in Australia, I think in general, fake wines are not a problem in countries like Australia, especially when you are buying them in retail. Perhaps its only the super premium wines being sold at auction are where we may have greater concern, and this is where the services of someone like Scott will become more important as these wines become hotly sought after and the fakes become more difficult to discern. Or if fake Grange and 707s from China start to infiltrate the Australian auction scene. We already know these two are often copied, according to Scott.
    Thanks for your input, it’s greatly appreciated.


    • G’day Drew. Thank you for moderating this one-sided debate. Yes I now live in Australia – The Adelaide Hills to be precise. I returned in 2014 after 9 years of living in China.

      My credentials? I am a RoseworthyCollege Oenology graduate. Class of 70/71 – luminaries include John Ellis of Hanging Rock, Doug Bowen of Bowen Estate, Mike Press, Robin Moody of Somerled, Neil Paulett and Colin Glaetzer.

      I was in the wine industry from 1968 till 2005 before moving to China, where I worked in CRM/Loyalty Marketing (a skill I developed whilst in direct marketing of wine over 22 years).

      I have no axe to grind with Scott. I just don’t want to see him causing doubt in the minds of “everyday” consumers.

      Let’s face it – “House Brands” are increasingly becoming a fact of life in Australia.

      Mate – I ran The Wine Society between 1983-1987 and we were openly selling our “House Brand”.

      The difference these days is that Woolies & Coles (more Woolies because they own Dorrien Estate) are selling “House Brands” that pretend to be from a winery. The wine quality is fine, but the marketing strategy is designed to lift the price above commercial brands.

      Is that “Fake Labels”?


  7. Hello all-

    The fact is that the international crime stats for counterfeit levels of all luxury goods is 20%, including wine. (Electronics, handbags, watches, sneakers, perfume….) You can protest as much as you want, you can cry and pound your fists- you can, Mr Silk Road, do your own math and conclude that everyone else including Interpol is wrong, but 20% is the actual number. And in some sales venues, especially brokering, in certain locales- Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, ASIA – that is very conservative indeed.

    Admittedly, Asia brings up the stats in both luxury and the lowest end, but globally, 20% is more than fathomable. (Pharmaceuticals are at 30% in emerging markets. Wrap your head around that.) Nick Bartman, a British attorney, who has spent years researching counterfeits in Asia has stated that 70% of all wine in China is fake.

    Counterfeit wine is not confined to bottles made to look like a famous vintage from famous producer: Recreations, as we call them. Counterfeit wine also encompass IP infringement (close but intentionally wrong, as often found all over Asia) Illegally altered and/or mislabeled wine: wrong Grapes, wrong Vintage, wrong Origin. Refilled bottles. Relabeled bottles. Wines with adulteration like those that kill. Why do you think French farmers overturned tankers of Spanish bulk wine in the south of France recently? Many of the counterfeit wines in China contain no grape product at all.

    I work in this area every day. From the 20k bottles of counterfeit Carlo Rossi that were recently found in a warehouse operation in China, which had allegedly been operating for years, to the recent conviction of Alex Aniken/Alexander Iubov, and his Italian counterparts, for making millions in fake DRC, to the gents in Canada importing bulk Italian red, bottling and selling it as Brunello di Montalcino & Chianti Classico Riserva out of an Indian Reservation, to the counterfeit Mireval all over the globe – wine fraud permeates all markets. There are entire areas of a huge wine show in Asia dedicated to counterfeit fine wines.

    I recently inspected a small but very high end and nothing but great vintage – aka counterfeiters sweet spot- collection: Out of 1000 bottles, I inspected 267. Of those, 96 were counterfeit. $2.482Million in counterfeits, sold to one family. Over a million of that sold by just one firm to the collectors. This is not an isolated incident. We see this all the time, all over the world.

    You can decry the facts and the government stats all you want – that is what people typically do when they want to kill the messenger rather than face the honest and valid message being presented. You can call out the messenger for starting a sentence with a word you don’t like – classic deflection. Stay opaque. You may teach at Sonoma State, you may have been in the industry for decades (if you have and you still don’t know the scope of this problem, it’s time to pull your finger out!) you can cry and winge – all your denial does not change the fact that 20% of wine globally is counterfeit.

    In 2002/2003, when I first caught Rudy Kurniawan, Eric Greenberg and John Kapon of Acker Merrall and Condit knowingly selling counterfeit wine – I was attacked in the same manner. ‘Cant Be!’ ‘NO! Not them! They are great guys!’ ‘You are just jealous/vindictive/being Chicken Little!’ I used to naysayers, and deniers. I have been dedicated to this aspect of the industry since 2000, I know the reality of the problem, and I am very used to the denial.

    It took a decade for Rudy to get arrested, and another year for the Greenberg truths to come out in court. I was right about all of that, and continue to be vindicated about Acker Merrall & Condit’s sale of counterfeit wines. Fail to believe the truth of the scope of the problem at your own peril. David Doyle in Australia purchased $15.5 million from Rudy K direct. Where is that wine?

    In the last months, I have seen in Europe (& some in bond no less!) counterfeit Ramonet, DRC in OWC, 2005 Clos du Tart, Lafleur, Mouton, Sassicaia, Tignanello 2009 & 2014 – in OWC. There are also lots of current vintage Dugat, Dugat-Py, Roumier & Rouget, 1992 & 1993 Screaming Eagle, and of course, mountains of Henri Jayer crossing borders in Europe and pouring into other markets. Here in California, I just saw counterfeit Shafer Hillside Select, Screaming Eagle & Second Flight as well as Harlan.

    We, as professionals and wine authenticators – do not throw out numbers for nefarious reasons. It is totally inappropriate and wrong of you to chastise Scott for being honest, in an opaque wine market. You can dismiss the facts all you want – but that does not change them.

    At least 20% of all wine globally sold, is counterfeit.

    Maureen Downey

    Maureen Downey, DWS, CWE
    @moevino @WineFraud
    Chai Consulting WineFraud.com #ChaiWineVault
    Awarded Top 50 Most Powerful Women in the World of Wine, Drinks Business
    The Sherlock Holmes of Wine, Decanter
    Featured in the film Sour Grapes, available on Netflix

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I have read this article a couple of times, and I am still left scratching my head. Who is Scott Evers, and why is he being consulted when he has not completed his “counterfeit wine identification training”? Mr. Evers continues to boast about Maureen Downey. Maureen this, and Maureen that. Maureen, Maureen, Maureen! What about you Scott?

    As a certified sommelier, wine appraiser, counterfeit wine identification specialist, and wine expert I can tell you that delving into the area of potential “counterfeit wines” is a like stepping into the proverbial hornets nest. Ask Michael Broadbent (Christies former Wine Auction Director) who positively identified the Thomas Jefferson Chateau Haut Brion bottle, which was ultimately was revealed as a counterfeit wine. Even the wine experts make mistakes.

    I respect Maureen Downey as a peer and fellow professional. I find it humorous that the press and journalists appear to focus almost exclusively on her as a counterfeit wine identification specialist. It was the documentary “Sour Grapes” about Rudy Kurniawan that launched her career. There are certainly a hand full of counterfeit wine identification experts out there aside from Maureen Downey.

    I was an expert for the defense in the Bill Koch counterfeit wine case against Royal Wine Merchants Ltd. Thankfully, Royal Wine merchants settled, and that was a truly smart decision on their part.


    Tom DiNardo – sommelier, wine expert, and CEO of Winery & Wine Appraisals


  9. Tom – I have been authenticating wine since 2000. Your statement that “It was the documentary “Sour Grapes” about Rudy Kurniawan that launched her career.” is as laughable as it is insulting. It is in fact a straight up lie. Jealous much?

    I have been recognized as an expert in wine authentication since 2002, for almost 2 decades, and well before Rudy was even arrested – much less the release of Sour Grapes last year. Jancis Robinson has been writing about me in the Financial Times and elsewhere as a counterfeit wine expert and a vehement anti-fraud expert since 2006/2007. I have been an expert in many cases, including the case against Rudy Kurniawan, a case I started working on with the FBI in 2008. I train the FBI in the USA on wine fraud. (Perhaps you need a quick peek at the press pages on my websites, if you are really this out of touch with reality: https://www.winefraud.com/about-us/press/ & http://www.chaiconsulting.com/press/)

    I have no idea what your credentials are in terms of authentication. I have never heard that you are an expert in authentication – except here, by you. In fact, your name has not once, ever come up as someone who even does authentication in any conversation I have ever had. Not with colleagues, press, the myriad of attorneys i am constantly in contact with/working with – no one, and I talk about this all day, all the time, with people all over the world. Your ‘credentials’ are not exactly mind-blowing: Certified Somm – yep, got that when I was 22, took the advanced MS at 23, on crutches. Wine Appraiser – yep, since 2000. “counterfeit wine identification specialist” according to whom, please?

    That you were an “expert” for Royal Wine Merchants, one of the worst sellers of counterfeit wines in modern history – who got slapped into oblivion by Koch and his team – speaks volumes about your ‘ability’ as an authenticator. I would not go bragging about this, as it does not serve as anything but a dark mark against you. I do not consider you a peer, when it comes to authentication.

    My recognition is not unmerited, and has not come without well fought battles. For over 10 years I was screaming into a black hole about wine fraud and counterfeiting. Until Rudy was arrested – more people than not attacked me for saying RK, Greenberg,Kapon, Royal Wine Merchants and many others that have been found to be doing so, were selling counterfeit wines. Where were you Tom? Oh – working for the bad guys…

    Since 2013, I have to take body guards to large tastings as I have been physically assaulted, and am verbally accosted all the time – coincidentally, it’s even happening in the upper left screen corner of Sour Grapes in the very opening of the film… I’ve been slammed on wine boards by those that want the fraud to keep on going since 2002. Wine Fraud is a very lucrative business after all. In all this time, I’ve never seen you chime in as an expert in any of those threads. And now you are going to jump in and attack me, joining the ranks of John Kapon, Rob Rosania, Eric Greenbeg and Gil Lempert-Schwarz? Well – You are in amazing company there Tom…

    Scott has just started training. His stats are correct. His data is what is in the public realm, and supported by Interpol, and other international governing bodies fighting crimes. We do not make up stats like this, just as we do not work for crooks.

    Attacking Scott is totally out of line.

    I look forward to your apologies, to both me and to Scott.

    Maureen Downey, DWS, CWE

    The Sherlock Holmes of Wine
    BBC4 The Wine Detectives – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08vxv32


    • Good on you Lloyd. The wine industry has too many self-appointed “experts”. We who have worked in the industry since the 1960s have seen them all! They do the industry no good by scaring and/or confusing the general public.


      • Anyone who has worked in the wine industry since the 1960’s, and is not honest about the current issue of counterfeits permeating all tiers of all markets, is either ignorant beyond belief because they are completely out of touch with current conditions, making them inept, or because they want to protect the fraudsters and bad actors more than consumers.

        I’ve been watching it happen for 16 years….


  10. Thanks to all for your passionate comments. Statistics and opinions aside, I think most of us agree that fake wines are a problem that need to be addressed. It shouldn’t be a taboo subject any longer.
    I have been in the wine industry for some 18 years now, and those that have cast me as someone out there who wants to cause damage to our industry, do not know me very well. I have made the decision to move into this field primarily because in time I want to play a small role in getting these fake wines out of the market, and to help producers and vendors to better protect their brands and business. If that is not playing a part in helping our industry, then I’m sorry to those that think that.


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