High Tech Wine Fraud Prevention
The latest tool in the battle against counterfeit vintage wines is rather high tech. Antique Wine Company in London asked Guegan's Centre for Nuclear Studies to create technology that zaps bottles with ion beams generated by a particle accelerator. The beams are meant to determine how old the glass in the bottles is and where it originated from. They can compare the suspicious bottles with known bottles from a certain chateau.
Of course this brings up the problem of new wine in old bottles. That involves another test, a method that tests for levels of a radioactive isotope, cesium 137, in the wine itself. Techniques like this were used in the case of wines sold by Hardy Rodenstock, the wine dealer who is the subject of "The BIllionaire's Vinegar" a recent book that includes the story of American collector William Koch who has sued Rodenstock claiming bottles which allegedly belonging to US president Thomas Jefferson were fakes.
Because of the high cost of testing, techniques like this are only used when there are significant amounts of money on the table. This may force savvy fraudsters to move into the mid-range of the vintage market where clients are less likely to resort to such elaborate means.