Buyer Beware: A Lot of Cheap Spanish Wine Is Being Passed Off as French

This is a bigger, more violent issue than you think

By Kirk Miller

 
French wine
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12 July 2018

Sacré rouge!

Turns out certain restaurants and wine merchants in France have been selling cheap Spanish wines and labeling them as French wines, according to the anti-fraud agency DGCCRF.

The mislabeled vino constitutes a whopping 4.6 million bottles, or 15% of the wine surveyed in 2017. The discovery comes as part of a more proactive campaign by the French regulatory group to combat wine fraud. No specific brands were named in the report, but the deceitful practice was discovered in both cafés and wine shops, in bottles and “bag in box” retail containers.

The biggest culprit? Rosé, according to the report.

Punishment for mislabeling a wine’s origin can include fines up to 300,000 euros and even two years in prison.

We’d joke here about snobby drinkers unable to tell where their wine actually comes from, but this is a serious issue: according to a report by GBA Strategies, “79% of consumers consider the region where a wine comes from an important factor” when they buy a bottle. And they should: When you know where a wine is from, you know the area’s growing requirements and its terroir.

Also, because of fraud, there’s been some retaliatory violence from French winemakers against Spanish tankers in the recent past.

Some things to look for if you’re worried about wine deception? According to Forbes, you’ll want to ignore the pictures and the colors on the bottle — they may simply evoke an area without actually sharing that origin. Also, look for the phrase “Product of France,” not “bottled in.” And, when actually buying wine from a store in France, don’t trust where the bottle is shelved; you’ll want to examine the label.

Main image: Eddie Welker/Flickr Creative Commons

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