Serious wine collectors must have a high tolerance for risk. Otherwise how could they pay thousands of dollars for a beverage that could be the nectar of the gods—or just a very expensive vinegar?

Now they have yet another thing to worry about: Experts say 5 percent of the world’s most expensive wines could be counterfeits.

There are no definite numbers on how many counterfeits are changing hands, but Serena Sutcliffe, Sotheby’s international wine director, had a sobering assessment for investors at a London meeting. The number of 1945 vintage wines being sold exceeds 1945’s output, she said.

Of course, no one is switching the Two-Buck Chuck for One-Buck Chuck, as evidenced by the fact that this news was reported in the Palm Beach Post rather than the Cleveland Plain Dealer. But just in case we’re lucky enough to be drinking a wine of spectacular vintage, Sutcliffe tells us how to tell the difference between the real and the faux:

‘The vast majority of counterfeits are drunk with enormous pleasure,’ Sutcliffe told Decanter magazine. In fact, that is one way to ferret out a fake: Very old wines are seldom drinkable; fakes tend to be consistently good.

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