Premium wines are smuggled into China through several illegal channels, with an estimated 30,000 bottles of fake wines sold every hour in the country, a Forbes report has claimed.
Imported wines make up 29 percent of the Chinese wine market. In 2015, China overtook France as the country with the world’s second-largest vineyard area, though it continues to trail in production.
However, Forbes claims that as much as 50 percent of wine in China could be fake, with empty bottles refilled with cheaper wine or having counterfeit labels attached.
The Chateau Lafite label is one of the most counterfeited wines in China, with buyers pursuing renowned old world imports.
According to Forbes, prestigious producers such as Henri Jayer, Petrus, Mouton Rothschild and the burgundies of Domain de la Romanee-Conti have also become popular knockoffs.
With visitors from mainland China accounting for nearly 70 percent of Macau’s tourist arrivals, experts and local authorities noted that Chinese wine enthusiasts need not be wary of counterfeited wines in Macau.
The IACM told the Times that it had not received any inquiries or complaints about fake wines this year, while the Consumer Council reported that it had only received complaints about counterfeit liquor from China.
“We only received two suspicious cases relating to […] counterfeit wine for the period from 2016 to the 31st day of July 2017, in which Chinese alcoholic beverages and brandy were involved. We have not received any complaints against counterfeit red wine in the meantime,” the council said.
The council also said that cases relating to the counterfeit goods were referred to the Macao Customs Service for further action, in accordance with its criminal investigation procedures.
Wine expert Filipe Cunha Santos, president of the Wine Society of Macau, also told the Times that, while it is an issue in China, Macau is unlikely to suffer the same difficulties due to the gaming operators’ diligent procurement teams.
He added that such wines are only offered in integrated resorts’ VIP sector.
“The casinos, which are the [main] clients of those types of wines, actually source them from good sources including the U.S. and Europe […] Casinos have strong procurement processes before they accept any suppliers,” the expert said.
Santos also added that other outlets and restaurants in the region do not purchase types of wines that are likely to be counterfeited, such as premium French and Italian wines.
He explained that there are other types of seals that are difficult to clone, and such classifications are made available online for verification.
“These kinds of products are able to maintain […] accountability. Counterfeit wines are of the top ranges [only and] not day-to-day consumption. So it’s not a problem for the [general] population,” Santos said.
The expert noted that wine importation in Macau is increasing, with a growing interest in wine tasting from the mainland.
Haigan Wong, director of city-
based wine store Adega Royale, said it is difficult to assess whether a bottle of wine is counterfeit, as retailers lack a system to assist them in this endeavour.
“Sometimes it’s difficult to compare. […] I’m sure there will always be some fake bottles but not by intention,” Wong said.
“There’s always a worry whether you buy it from Macau or elsewhere. So you need to trust the source. Any [trader] can fall for it,” he added.
The Interprofessional Council of Bordeaux (CIVB) stated that the council cannot offer figures on counterfeiting, explaining that there is rarely reliable data for illegal activities.
Nevertheless, the CIVB stated that it is fully aware of this “industry-hampering scourge,” and claimed that it “actively works with the relevant authorities to eradicate it.”