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  • Apr 25, 2014
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Jake's View
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 December, 2013, 4:14am
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 December, 2013, 9:05am

Cheers to the wine fakers who help tell us what's real

I find it hard to get worked up about the evils of wine faking. In fact, in some ways I think fakers provide a valuable service to society. They make it plain when consumer goods are overpriced.

There are some exceptions to be made, of course. I don't approve of fake aircraft parts, fake infant milk formula and fake medicines. Law enforcement agencies are well employed when protecting the public from such things.

But where is the deep evil in a bottle of wine that is not quite what it is billed to be, particularly when many of the wine drinkers whom the fakers target cannot tell the difference anyway?

To my way of thinking there is a good laugh to be had when we read that Bill Koch, an American billionaire who owns 43,000 bottles of wine, discovered that several prized bottles reputed to be part of the private collection of American president Thomas Jefferson were all fakes. Tell me that you didn't think it worth a giggle.

Mr Koch probably never intended to drink the wine anyway, which only says that he should have done a better job of checking the provenance. The case is different for people who actually buy to drink.

If it really were easy every time to tell a prize wine from a bottle of plonk then bottles of plonk could never be sold as prize wine. Faking is only possible because claims of a huge difference between prize wine and plonk - enough to justify a difference of tens of thousands of dollars in price - do not pass the market test. Large numbers of people cannot tell the difference.

This in turn suggests that producers of fancy wines are also fakers of a sort. They are faking a premium value that does not really exist for the largest portion of their market. They are selling illusion for the most part.

It goes even further. My local supermarket was rebranded to Market Place By Jasons from Wellcome a few years ago. The difference between the two is that one has a green and yellow colour theme and, the other, red and yellow.

But to support its claim to being a premium grocery experience, Jasons stocks fancy bottles behind one checkout, including a Chateau Lafite Rothschild bearing a price tag of HK$19,998. I assume the point is to create an illusion of good cause for higher prices than at Wellcome. You fakers, I say.

I have no real trouble with it, however. All sales pitches are at least in part illusion. My only difficulty is that I see no reason why illusion should be specially protected; why law enforcement agencies paid with my tax money should be at the service of the illusion mongers whose purpose is to deceive me.

What wine fakers do is stick a pin into what is, for most, clearly an illusion. I would love to see Jasons' bottle of Lafite proved a fake. How I would laugh.

I am sure we will indeed see increasingly more wine faking. Just look at the chart here of China's wine and brandy imports over the last five years.

And what goes for fake wine goes for fake shoes, fake watches and fake everything where public safety is not at stake. My thanks to you, fakers. You don't really bring us a lie. What you actually do is restore truth.


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Let's face it this is the dumbing down of the purchasing public coupled with the avarice of the manufacturing companies.
In the early '50's a bottle of Hennessy VSOP brandy had a plain black on white label and every bottle had a serial number - for VSOP !!
By the early-mid 60's in HK a bottle of 3* brandy cost $25 HK, a bottle of VSOP $28, a bottle of locally bottled FOV $32 and a bottle of Martell Cordon Bleu $36. Thus the difference in price between a bottle of 3* and a bottle of Cordon Bleu (XO had not been 'invented' at this time) was around 35%. What is the difference now - 350% AND the content is not as good. And so the same for red wine!
So again big business is ripping off the consumer - who knows no different!! So if in turn 'big business' is being ripped off who is the loser? The public who do not know the difference or big business who are involved in a massive scam?
All governments should attempt to legislate something for their Ad industries to bear disclaimers, for the gullibles at least, to say an LVMH branded scarf is worth less than US$150, or a Ferrari less than US$190,000, or component price marked-up contains Vanity-pricing.
But truth be known, there are surely some Haves out there who want to distinguish themselves by having things the peasants can't have. Here is when the Vanity-merchants ingenuity sets in and their till starts to ring, there are 1000 times more Have-nots out there willingly pay 100-times overpriced branded bag so as to appear as, or the potential to be mistaken as, one of the Haves. The Have-nots probably don't care what brand or product so long as the in-crowd and the Haves are having them.
That's why the Chinese nouveau riche are having their vintage MRL with sprite and whiskey!
The argument is close to be a fake truism too – the value of fake is that truth is restored?
One pays and feels marvel even knowingly all illusions of David Copperfield’s tricks. But not the fake wines though because the illusions have helps from accomplice by legal authority according to JVDK. We actually been paying twice to be sucker and now feeling really insulted. This perhaps has prompted JVDK to blow off his steam.
John Adams
I agree
Anyway, in China the nouveaux -riche still often drink their Chateau Lafite Rothschild with ice or 7-Up.
Fakes sicken me, but they do expose the idiocy of luxury brand names.
If I can buy an almost perfect fake , fully-automatic / self-winding Rolex in Shanghai's Yu Garden shopping arcades for less than HK$100 what sense does it make to pay over HK$200,000 for the real thing ? Of that $199,900 price difference, well over $100,000 goes in advertising costs, as anyone should know who has ever paid for an advert in any luxury magazine.
(Anyway - I once toured one of Switzerland's most elite watch factories. One of the staff tacitly admitted that the gears wheel and many other internal working parts come from Shenzhen. After all - a gear is a gear. Only the actual case was made in Switzerland )
Meanwhile I still buy my usual P&S high-grade Chateau du Plonche for $169 / bottle.
Its quality is consistent and it tastes better than most restaurant wines at under $2,000.


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