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Château Margaux, a First Growth from the Borde...

Château Margaux, a First Growth from the Bordeaux region of France, is highly collectible. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fine wine is a very generic term that covers almost any wine that retails over about $30 per bottle. Many people see these wines as investments believing that the value of these bottles will increase over time.
The fine wine market, like any trending market, is rife with fraud. There are many people who will prey on the purchasers ignorance of the wine market. One common fraud is to charge high prices for poor wines that originate in famous regions such as Bordeaux and claim that they are offering a sound investment opportunity from an excellent vintage. These fraudsters are targeting the most ignorant collector by offering them something from a region with a well deserved reputation for excellence. Even the best vineyards have off vintages.
The simplest technique many fraudsters use is to simply change labels, the label from a coveted vintage can be easily put on a bottle from a less favorable year. Another trick many use is to refill the bottle of a prized vintage with a lesser variety. Empty bottles are easy to acquire and many of these empty bottles can be found for resale on places such as Ebay.
Unfortunately this is a hard scam to avoid and even the biggest and most educated collectors have been caught up in it. It is difficult to verify with 100% accuracy the true vintage of a wine without opening the bottle and once the bottle is open, the value is lost.
The best way to avoid being caught in one of these scams is by doing your research.

  1. Know everything you can about a bottle before you purchase it, ensure the price is reasonable for comparable bottles.
  2. Research the seller and find out how long he has been in business
  3. Find out where the bottle was acquired and if possible contact the previous owner for verification
  4. Make all purchases using a credit card, this helps prevent you from being taken advantage of as most credit card companies have fraud protection.
  5. Hire the assistance of an expert to verify the bottle
  6. If for any reason you are uncertain then it might be best just to step away from the purchase, sometimes it better to be safe than sorry.

Wine is very difficult to trace and is one of the easiest things to forge. Always be careful when making any sort of investment purchase.