Police are trying to track down the owners of more than 10,000 bottles of low-cost red wine found abandoned in Hong Kong streets.
Hundreds of cases of the French, Chilean and Argentinian wine - all of which sells for less than HK$150 a bottle - were brought to the attention of police in Hung Hom on Monday night and in Sham Shui Po yesterday.
Police have also sought help from Customs officers and connoisseurs to determine whether the wine is fake, although counterfeit labels on cheap wine are unusual.
Wine merchants said the bottles might have been surplus stock dumped by traders unable to sell it.
In Hung Hom, the boxes were discovered after a complaint to the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department about an obstruction on a pavement outside Hoi Sham Park in Chi Kiang Street. Police later took over the case.
Several boxes had been opened and a tab saying 'Duty Not Paid' was found on each bottle.
Police classified the discovery as 'found property' and Hung Hom officers are trying to track the owner and find out how when the boxes were left in the street.
They contained nearly 10,000 bottles of red wine in three different brands - Cono Sur from Chile, Les Douve from France and Reine Courvil from France.
'Initial investigations have found nothing to indicate [the wine] is fake,' Albert Ho Shi-king, head of the Intellectual Property Investigation Bureau, said.
Hundreds more bottles of French and Argentinian red wine were reported to the police yesterday after being found in an alley in Yen Chow Street, Sham Shui Po.
Several cartons had been opened and bottles were missing.
Last night, a senior police officer said this consignment had in fact been first spotted last week, but not officially reported until yesterday.
'Police will look into whether the two cases are linked or whether police will consolidate their investigations into the two cases,' the officer said.
Kevin Chik Koon-hung, sales manager at the 8th Estate Winery, said one of the brands concerned, the Chilean Cono Sur Merlot from Tocornal was a low-priced product, costing less than HK$150. The other two French brands, Les Doure and Reine Courvil, were not common locally, he said, and were low-priced.
Chik said it was difficult to speculate on the reasons behind the abandoned wine. He said the wine may have come from traders dispirited by business difficulties who just wanted to get rid of their stocks.
The Hong Kong Wine Merchants' Chamber of Commerce said the bottles could belong to stock surpluses which could not be sold and had been abandoned by traders.
A veteran customs officer said counterfeiters would normally produce wine purporting to be high-end popular brands, not cheap ones.