Fine Wines, and Wine Fraud: the big money, and even bigger rip-offs, are in China
A elite business badly in need of DNA Authentication
Luxury wines are fetching stupendous prices in Hong Kong. At a January auction there, held by New York wine auctioneer Zachys, a case of 1982 Chateau Lafite-Rothschild sold for more than $71,000 U.S., about $6,000 a bottle, well above the estimated price, according to USA Today. At a Sotheby's Hong Kong auction in October, three 1869 bottles of Chateau Lafite-Rothschild sold for $232,692 apiece, breaking all records.
Many of the winning bidders, according to Jeff Zacharia, president of Zachys, are mainland Chinese buyers. Problem is, all too many mainland Chinese luxury wine buyers are at risk for buying counterfeit wine. An alarmed Hong Kong officialdom is trying to stem the problem at its source. Hong Kong police maintain a specially-trained anti counterfeit wine squad and an intelligence bureau that tracks cases around the world.
But product authentication is tough. For example, since a major tactic of counterfeiters is simply to fill genuine bottles with cheaper wine, empty prized bottles have a market of their own, according to Delish.com, the food web site. Counterfeit bottles can fetch HK$40,000 ($4,800) on the market. Waiters in some upscale restaurants in China have been under instructions to smash bottles of fine wine after they are emptied, according to Delish.
The dilemma is this: with Hong Kong having recently replaced New York as the center of the luxury wine auction, this upscale business has burgeoned and at the same time become more vulnerable. It is in dire need of product authentication to protect both buyers and sellers, and even more so, the new Asian nexus of the wine auction markets.
Please see our feature "Luxury Wines and a Stunning DNA Technology," for background on anti-counterfeiting measures already in use by clients of Applied DNA Sciences, with more in the pipeline. Watch this space.