Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Did you know that as much as 20% of the fine wine worldwide is fake?

Or that counterfeit bottles bought and returned based on lack of authenticity are being resold as authentic by the same merchants over and over again? Every day, auction houses and merchants that are considered reputable by many either knowingly or unknowingly sell counterfeit bottles of wine.

Counterfeiting techniques are becoming more sophisticated, and criminals have realized that wine fraud is both lucrative and low risk. This combination is very dangerous as the global supply is rife with scores of recently made fake bottles as well as hundreds of millions in counterfeits from convicted counterfeiters. With all these fakes, many of them so well made, infiltrating our markets, it is becoming increasingly difficulty for even experienced wine experts to distinguish a fake bottle of wine from a real one.

Whether you work in the wine industry or simply love to purchase and enjoy fine wine, chances are good that you’ll experience wine fraud at some point. Learning about the tricks of the counterfeiters and the trade of authenticators is the only way to avoid counterfeits and protect yourself, or your organization, from buying, collecting or selling counterfeit wine.

As the founder of and Chai Consulting, and the foremost global authority on wine fraud and counterfeit wine, I’d like to personally invite you the Wine Fraud, Counterfeiting & Authentication Presentation and TCM Authentication Trainings Levels I and II at the Hyatt Grand Hotel in Hong Kong 7-9 February, 2017. Join me and my team and find out how to spot and avoid fakes, and safeguard your organization from counterfeit bottles. Click here to register.

In the Wine Fraud, Counterfeiting & Authentication Presentation, we’ll discuss the history of counterfeit wine from ancient times through the Rodenstock and Kurniawan cases right up to cases making headlines today, or those we are helping investigate. You’ll get an in-depth look at the different types of bottle counterfeiting and how to recognize them so you can avoid being a victim. We will discuss the power and security of our groundbreaking, recently launched Chai Wine Vault. Powered by Everledger. This unprecedented blockchain technology enables owners and potential buyers to track a bottle’s authenticity from producer to glass – no matter how many times a bottle is traded or moved.

Over the course of two days, enthusiasts and collectors, wine professionals and wine merchants and those who might eventually want to become professional wine authenticators can embark on Authentication Training Level I and II. This training covers:

·      Current counterfeits flooding the markets
·      How to authenticate wine labels, bottles, glass, capsules, and cork
·      Natural/authentic vs applied aging, and the techniques we see most often
·      Issues of consistency, what that means, and why it’s so important
·      The latest counterfeiting techniques
·      Hands-on workshopping with counterfeit bottles to put your knowledge into practice
·      Hands-on workshopping with bottles you bring in to be authenticated to put your knowledge into practice

In our advanced Level II Authentication Training, offered for the first time exclusively in Hong Kong we offer a level of training including information that has taken me almost two decades accumulate. We will delve into the actual anti-fraud measure and considerations to look for in inspecting all of the most counterfeited bottles in the world. We will look more in depth at ink, paper, print methods and all the red flags that should alert someone that a bottle is going from problematic to counterfeit with each new piece of information uncovered during the process of authentication. By the end of the training, you and your team will have learned enough to start looking at bottles differently so you can begin to protect your business from fraudulent sales, and ensure all purchases you make are worth the investment.

I know you care about the authenticity of fine wine as much as I do, and I hope we will get a chance to meet at the training in February.  Sign up soon to reserve your spot, as space is very limited.  Click here to register online at


Dubbed ‘The Sherlock Holmes of Wines’, Maureen Downey, an independent expert on fine and rare wine and foremost authority on counterfeit wine, has compiled the world’s largest database on the subject.  Specializing in authentication and valuation Ms. Downey has personally inspected hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of authentic and counterfeit wine, advising the world’s top collectors in purchasing, selling, and managing their collections with her firm, Chai Consulting. She also personally assisted the government prosecution in the first and only wine counterfeiting case tried by the U.S. government, and continues to work with and advise law enforcement on the investigation and prosecution of wine fraudsters.
In 2015, she launched to help assist both the wine trade and collectors become educated about the realities of wine fraud and counterfeiting in global markets, as well as how to authenticate fine wines. It now has over 24,000 images of both authentic and counterfeit bottles, labels, ink, corks and capsules to aid members in authentication.
In November 2016, Maureen and Everledger join forces to launch the Chai Wine Vault, an unprecedented solution for securing the authenticity and provenance of fine wine.
Everledger is a trusted, global ledger in the diamond industry with 1,000,000 stones currently secured on the blockchain. Everledger has extended the platform’s technology to create the Chai Wine Vault, a digital vault to solve the problem of counterfeit bottles with a digital record of provenance and a guarantee of authenticity stored in the immutable blockchain. Chai Wine Vault certification will ensure buyer confidence and protect the future investment value of wine assets for generations to come.
Today Ms. Downey is considered one of the top women in wine, and can currently be seen combatting counterfeits in the Netflix film, Sour Grapes.

“As a wine merchant of 25 years + experience and having worked for a number of London’s top wine merchants, Maureen’s approach is a breath of fresh air in helping both traders and consumers see through the secrecy and be able to understand what is real and what is not.”
– Jamie Graham, Founder of Brunswick Fine Wines

“It was brilliant.  Really enjoyed the day and learnt so much.”
- Richard Bampfield

“This was just phenomenal. I absolutely loved it. It’s hard to know where to begin on the things I loved. The presentation was fascinating, the time with the bottles invaluable. It really was a remarkable day.”
- Joe Fattorini

“I thought the Wine Authentication and training was absolutely fantastic, it was a real honour to attend. I learned a tremendous amount and it was absolutely fascinating. It was a privilege to experience such world class knowledge first hand. The presenters were all wonderful and Maureen herself was simply inspirational.
Thank you all so much for a really unforgettable experience. I feel that going forward I would be in a position to spot some of the ‘red flags’ which is very reassuring.”

- Kate Ridett, Fine Wine Vintages

Luiz Alberto (on behalf of Maureen Downey - Chai Consulting)

  • Master of Wine candidate
  • Member of the Circle of Wine Writers
  • Italian Wine Ambassador
  • I combine my passion for wine with social media

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