Geek Trivia

Early Anti-Counterfeiting Technique Used To Protect Wine Relied On?

Gold Wire
Lead Corks
The White "Sugar Sand" Beaches Found In Tropical Locales Are Composed Of?

Answer: Gold Wire

Counterfeiting is a serious problem for just about everyone with a successful product. Whether your product is currency, art, clothing, or luxury goods like high-end bags and wine, you have to deal with the inevitable scammers that come along and take your good name and design and sell their goods with your label.

Back in the mid-19th century, Spanish wine maker Camilo Hurtado de Amézaga came up with a clever solution to both protect his wine from counterfeiting and boost its value simultaneously. Hurtado had studied French wine making techniques, brought them back to Spain, and his wines became a personal favorite of the Spanish King, Alfonso XII. After the king took such a strong interest, the nobility and everyone else did too. Soon his wines, Marques de Riscal, were widely counterfeited.

To combat the counterfeiting, he had his wine bottles netted in a mesh of golden wire. The wire was so fine it was impossible to remove the cork or the label from the bottle without breaking it and it was cost prohibitive and impractical for counterfeiters to set up their own golden wire systems to circumvent the anti-counterfeiting measure. Soon other winemakers in the region followed suit and fine Spanish wines were kept authentic by golden cages.

Today very few wines come packaged in such a fashion, but some Bodegas maintain the tradition on some of their wine lines and other winemakers will, on occasion, mesh their bottles with both gold and lesser metals. The practice is now out of tradition as modern regulatory and distribution practices have largely stamped out the dump-and-refill schemes that plagued the wine making community in prior centuries.