There’s no denying that the Italians take everything to do with their wines and foods very seriously.
And so they should. Italy has carefully cultivated a reputation as one of the main hubs for foodies and wine lovers alike. Italian wines are extremely popular because of the level of quality that they possess. And many Italian foods have such a local flavour that it’s impossible to produce them anywhere else.
There are even organisations that are dedicated to ensuring that Italian wines are as legitimate as possible. The most famous of these, of course, are the DOC. They certify wines with DOC or DOCG status as long as they meet the very stringent conditions that the organisation puts forth.
But there’s a problem with any sort of product that achieves a high level of popularity.
There will always be people who want to profit off the hard work of others. And they’ll do it by creating forgeries that claim to be the real thing.
We see it in every industry in the world. The fashion industry is awash in fake designer labels that fool people into thinking they’re paying for the real thing. It’s even a problem in tech circles. Piracy has massive effects on the movie, music and gaming industries.
The Italian wine industry is no different. Wine is big business, which means there’s plenty of money to be made by people who can knock together convincing forgeries.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at some of the most faked Italian wines. And then, we’re going to tell you why you have to avoid them.
The Most Faked Wines
Practically any Italian wine with good name value is likely to fall victim to counterfeiters at one point or another.
Prosecco is an obvious victim of this. The most popular sparkling white wine in the world, Prosecco is sold in the tens of millions every years. You could even argue that the modern age is a golden era for Prosecco producers.
But that makes it a golden era for the fakers too.
Thousands upon thousands of fake bottles of Prosecco make their way to unsuspecting customers every year. This is especially a problem for the countries that Italy import wine to. Only recently, an investigation by the UK’s Food Standards Agency found cases containing thousands of bottles of Prosecco that were all fake.
And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. It’s likely that there are hundreds of thousands of fake bottles of Prosecco out there that go undetected.
Italy’s red wines are not immune to forgery either. Back in 2014, a wine forging operation was busted in Tuscany. The counterfeiters had produced about 5 million euros worth of fake wines that carried various famous Tuscan labels.
This is less a case of a specific wine being a forgery so much as it is an entire region falling victim to counterfeiters. Tuscany may well be Italy’s most renowned wine region. Wines from Tuscany generally hit a high standard of quality, which means people look out for the location on the labels of bottles.
The forgers took advantage of this to produce fakes that carried the Tuscan name without any of the quality associated with the region.
Forgeries are also a big problem in the collector’s market. There’s a lot of money to be made by selling high-end wine forgeries.
In that sector of the market, no Italian wine gets counterfeited more than Sassicaia.
One of Italy’s most collectible red wines, Sassicaia is highly sought after, which makes it a great target for the fakers. Each vintage brings with it a bunch of counterfeits, many of which are so carefully crafted that they can fool even the most experienced of people – at least until they open the bottle.
Suspicions surrounding this type of wine rise whenever sellers seem able to locate and sell bottles without any major issues.
Counterfeiting affects the Italian wine industry at all levels. From popular types through to popular regions, the fakers will use whatever will sell to turn a quick profit.
But why should you care?
Reasons to Avoid Counterfeit Wines
There are plenty of reasons to avoid counterfeit wines whenever you’re able to.
The first is the same reason that’s used to dissuade piracy. When you buy a forgery, you’re not putting money into the pockets of the people who worked day and night to create an absolutely amazing wine. Instead, you’re often paying people who will funnel that money into more illicit ventures.
You may think that the issue won’t have a major effect on the big wine companies. But what about the smaller companies. If a small company produces a wine that becomes popular, they become a target for counterfeiters. And if people get fooled by the fake wine, such small producers may not be able to sustain themselves.
Of course, taking care of the Italian wine industry isn’t the only reason to avoid forgeries.
A fake wine can be severely damaging to your health.
Think about it. Nobody’s policing the counterfeiters when it comes to what they put into their wines. That means they could be adding all sorts of chemicals in an effort to create the taste that you get from a legitimate wine.
You have no idea about this, which means you’re drinking something that probably shouldn’t be finding its way into your body. Contrast that with the legitimate industry, where every bottle of wine has to meet certain quality conditions, and it’s clear why you should avoid forgeries wherever possible.
The Final Word
It’s unlikely that the issue of fake wines will go away anytime soon. But there’s plenty that you can do to put a dent into the industry.
Make sure that you only buy your wines from reputable merchants. If you don’t trust the supplier, you can’t trust the legitimacy of their wine either.
And always check the label. A lot of forgeries don’t take proper care to replicate the labels. Use the web to get the information that you need to avoid the fakes.