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Delhi Wine Club
Fake Chinese Jacobs Creek in London

Posted: Saturday, 02 April 2011 12:18

Fake Chinese Jacobs Creek in London

China continues to maintain its global supremacy in making fake products including wine, as 340 counterfeit bottles of the ubiquitous Jacobs Creek from Australia marked as ‘Wine of Austrlia’, were discovered in 19 London shops during a recent raid by the government inspectors, according to media reports. India faces no such immediate threat due to their low volumes and price, feels Subhash Arora.

A British quality standards officer at Havering council in London said the illegal wine had come from China and looked very similar to the original product but there were spelling mistakes in the small print- an A was missing in ‘Australia’.

A spokesman for Pernod Ricard, owners of Jacob's Creek Wines, said the company had launched an investigation into the counterfeit wines after customers complained about the quality. Jacobs Creek is one of the established Australian wine brands and is also the most popular and marketed single Aussie brand in India-sold mostly at the retail and banquet level. It is named after a waterway in the Barossa Valley, South Australia.

A spokesman for the company in UK said the company had launched an investigation into the counterfeit wines after customers complained about the quality of the wines. "In some respects it is quite flattering that someone sees Jacob's Creek wines as something they want to counterfeit," he said reportedly. The wine is not harmful but is of very low quality and substandard taste.

Efforts by delWine to contact the right people at Pernod Ricard in Gurgaon regarding the possibility of fake wines being in India were unsuccessful. But it is safe to assume that there are none in India, though one ought to perhaps become careful about the authenticity of some of the more expensive brands in future.

The fake liquor experts find counterfeiting Scotch whisky and liquor more lucrative because of high volumes. Only around 15,000 cases of Jacobs Creek are estimated to be currently imported annually into India- a miniscule proportion of the whisky and liquor being counterfeited at the moment- it is a common joke in the cocktails circuit that more Johnny Walker is consumed in India than made by parent Diageo in Scotland.

Scan and Spot the Fake

While the Indian consumer does not have to worry about fake wines for now (Black Label and Red Label guzzlers may need to worry ) Scientists in UK claim to have developed a counterfeit wine and spirit detector that works on unopened bottles and may soon be the nemesis of the fake whisky bottlers in India too.

Researchers from the Space Research Centre at the University of Leicester are reportedly working with scientists at nearby De Montfort University to create a handheld device for detecting fakes just with a scan of the packaging. It identifies fake bottles of wine or whisky using a technique that detects differences between the characteristics of light reflected from printed packaging.

Accurate data on counterfeiting in the alcohol industry is hard to come by even in UK where not only 340 bottles of fake JC were found in the raid but also 11,400 liters of fake vodka being bottled in a plant in Worcestershire, according to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) in London. News of fake wines and liquor regularly hits the headlines- the Indian criminal minds concentrating on the latter in India.

Website for counterfeit wines

For serious wine drinkers, a wine collector has created a website that publishes the latest information on fake wines that includes a section on the most recent counterfeits reported. Limited subscription access is free. For more detailed information one needs to subscribe at various levels.

Chinese fakes are relatively easy to spot at present due to the poor knowledge of English. Reading the label carefully can give away a fake wine. But as their quest for English language improves their knowledge, it may not be far when this method of spotting the fakes would become difficult. Devices like above and more websites for wine authentication will be handy. The Chinese government hopefully realizes that allowing fake Chinese products is harmful to the general image of products made in China and takes more stringent steps to prevent the virus from spreading.

Subhash Arora


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