The drinks world has been left reeling following an accusation that as much as 75% of its content could be fraudulent.
The accusation was made by investigative journalist Paco Lies in a hard-hitting exposé published this week.
‘If you look at what’s written about booze, most of it looks perfectly plausible at first,’ he said. ‘It’s packaged in semi-coherent sentences and the spelling is largely accurate.
‘But once you do some proper analysis of the content itself, it quickly becomes clear that much of it is totally lacking in substance,’ he told Fake Booze.
The drinks world has dismissed the figures as sensationalist.
‘Of course there’s some fakery,’ said Eddie Torial of the Global Content Producers Union. ‘Usually relating to whisky NFTs or sulphites in wine, which nobody understands but feels they have to have an opinion on.
‘But since around half of all copy is recycled press releases and the rest is rehashes of articles written in 1974 we’d say most of it is pretty reliable.’
However Lies claims millions of people consume content every day without realising that it’s been put together by uncrupulous fakers.
Unsurprisingly, social media and personal websites are the worst environment for fraud.
Only last year the FBI uncovered a ring of bloggers who were pumping out entirely fake comments about the science behind natural wine and claiming it was based on a five-year PhD study.
The report points out, too, that fakery is not always obvious.
Sponsored round table discussions on trade websites, for instance, might be largely bollocks, but they are not outright lies because the people genuinely believe what they are saying.
‘Inflated optimism and wishful thinking don’t make someone a criminal,’ notes the report, ‘just criminally stupid.’
Echt, genuine and real
Hearteningly, there are places where authenticity is guaranteed.
‘Books, magazine articles and anything written by a Master of Wine are a safe bet,’ said Lies.
‘Essentially, if you struggle to get past the third paragraph without your eyes closing, it’s a good guarantee that it’s been written by somebody who knows what they’re talking about.’
Read about how Italian police rushed to shut down a non-fake wine operation here