In China, counterfeit high-end wines are a growing beverage industry segment, where fakes are sold to Chinese consumers. Knock-off artists refill empty bottles from famous chateaux with inferior vintages.
According to one source, “Upwardly mobile Chinese, eager to display their wealth and sophistication, have since developed a taste for imported wine along with other foreign luxuries.”
In China, wine consumption more than doubled since 2005, making China the seventh-largest market in the world. The methods used to dupe innocent consumers includes photocopying labels, creating different and phony chateaux names on the capsule and the label. Sometimes authentic bottles are used but another wine is added by using a syringe. The problem is so widespread in China, the U.S., and Europe, that auction house Christie’s has begun smashing empty bottles with a hammer to prevent them from entering the black market. During one sale in 2008, a French vintner was “shocked to discover that ‘106 bottles out of 107’ were fakes.” According to one source, counterfeit French wines sold locally and abroad “could take on a much more serious amplitude in Asia because the market is developing at a dazzling speed.”
Vintners are either unable or hesitant to fight such counterfeiters
“There are no funds. Each lawsuit costs 500,000 euros,” states one French vintner. In addition, some vintners, like product and food manufacturers, prefer to avoid any publicity regarding fakes to avoid injuring their brand names.
“There are no funds. Each lawsuit costs 500,000 euros – way beyond our ability or plans to invest in such activity” (As stated by involved wineries)
Counterfeit wine is also found in the West; it is primarily a problem for collectors of rare wine, especially of pre-WWII French wines, as producers kept spotty records at the time.
(Based on WikiPedia coverage of the subject – April, 2016)