The counterfeit game is a wild one. Sometimes I think it might take more effort than it’s worth, especially if you’re aiming for low-hanging fruit. Take this story from Food & Wine.
A customer at a grocery store in Birmingham, England, discovered that the six bottles of Australian Yellow Tail wine that they purchased were not what they seemed to be. Three of them “had different color liquid inside and did not taste the same as the others.” Uh oh. Somethin’s up, Scoob.
The local authorities investigated the incident, and concluded that a variety of fake wines from Yellow Tail were indeed fakes. This included Merlot, Shiraz, Pinot Grigio, and Cabernet Sauvignon—all the finest flavors from the finest wine money can buy. I guess the counterfeiters weren’t really aiming too high. I mean, if you’re going to take the effort to counterfeit Yellow Tail, maybe you could go the extra mile and pretend you’re Robert Mondavi’s Private Selection?
Don’t worry, investigators found that the liquid inside these bottles was fine, aka, not 750 ml of poison or urine, so nobody was harmed. Apparently, however, this wasn’t the only instance of counterfeit Yellow Tail. Martin Williams of Birmingham City Council’s Trading Standards team said it wasn’t a localized issue. “There were some bottles found in [the nearby town of] Dudley, and there appear to be bottles found in different parts of the country—some were in the South and some were in the North.” Maybe this conspiracy goes all the way to the upper echelons of government, where counterfeit Yellow Tail operatives are conspiring to take over the world!
The authorities did conclude that this was a large-scale operation, but instead of finding the Yellow Tail counterfeit masterminds, they cracked down on the grocery store where the bottles were purchased.
“The alcohol could not have been bought legitimately,” said Chris Jones, of West Midlands Police. “The only way this alcohol could have been bought is off the back of a [truck] with a white van man. The premises didn’t know if this was fit for public consumption—they wouldn’t have had a clue. The only thing they were worried about in my opinion was buying cheap alcohol, selling it at full retail price, making as much money as humanly possible.”
In the end, the grocery store was stripped of its alcohol license, its supervisor was removed, and Nisa, the chain affiliated with that store location cut all ties and is in the process of removing all of its branding. Looks like the wine counterfeiters are still at large, so if your Yellow Tail bottles have funny-colored liquid in them, best not drink it, and don your detective cap.