As prices of rare wines continue to rise, so does the payoff for selling counterfeits. With wine consultant Maureen Downey’s new website which will launch in early April, collectors and connoisseurs can make sure they’re purchasing the real thing. Downey assisted the FBI in bringing down Rudy Kurniawan—one of the wine collectors recently convicted for selling fraudulent wines for top prices. While Kurniawan is off the streets, many of his fakes are still in circulation. Maureen Downey’s site will help consumers and collectors recognize and avoid purchasing frauds.
Downey’s website, Winefraud.com, will be a resource enabling collectors to perform due diligence for rare wines. Along with tutorials on how to spot a fraud and a gallery of photographs of authentic wines for comparison, the site will included Wine Authentication 101. This virtual tutorial shows specific counterfeit practices, with information from experts. Downey says it will be enough to educate collectors but not detailed enough to train would-be counterfeiters. If you like a little crime drama with your wine, the site will also included a blog by former Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Hernandez, who will tell the prosecutor’s side of the Kurniwan case.
There are several different levels of access: the free portion of the site will give consumers a list of merchants who have been vetted by Downey and are committed to fighting wine fraud. The three levels of membership subscription are enthusiasts, collectors, and professionals. Membership isn’t cheap, but for the serious collectors, it’s less expensive than hiring an expert to check all of your bottles. The higher-level subscriptions also include professional reviews, insider information for vendors regarding fakes, and alerts on stolen wines. If you’re a wine collector and enthusiast, check out Winefraud.com when it goes live to make sure you’re getting the real thing.