Fighting counterfeit thanks to NFTs in wine

France is afraid ‘ said TV news anchor Roger Jequill. Our customers are worried ‘, declares in the same solemn tone the winemaker Louis-Michel Léger-Belair. What caused this fear? ” There is a lot of talk about fakes in the wine world, Burgundian explains. We have little experience with this phenomenon, but we know that it is not difficult to make a fake bottle, despite the numerous protections put in place by the producers. Since I don’t want to respond in person at the last minute to an issue like this, I decided to take the lead with my own solution. »

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Fraud and counterfeiting: a scourge that affects tens of thousands of bottles each year around the world. Within the institutions responsible for control, the most pessimistic claim has been that 20% of the international wine trade will be affected. The topic is not new. Ancient writings tell of wine-coloring maneuvers and other tricks. The history of this small world has been peppered with stories of misleading mixtures, forgery of names, and false appellations. In France, the Directorate General of Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF) monitors the regularity of Microworld operations, supported by nine investigation teams in wine and spirits. However, global trade in liquor has intensified. The community remembers the case of Rudi Cordoan, an Indonesian forger, and forger of Burgundian stones from the Rousseau estate, the Château de la Tour, and dozens of other expatriates.

Today, with more and more bottles exchanged on the Web, many intermediaries – dealers, specialists in online auctions … – take on the role of validators, but with different skills and sometimes morality, some producers say. For his part, Louis-Michel Léger-Belair sees it as up to the winemaker to ensure the authenticity of the production for different buyers. Their solution is called Wokenwine, named after a new Luxembourg-based company set up by financier Valérie Lux, ” A wine lover and consumer who has encountered questionable bottles, but he is also passionate about new technologies and a great expert on issues related to blockchain ”, explains Louis-Michel Léger-Belair. The latter is itself a 20% contributor to this platform that links each bottle to the NFT, meaning that the digital format acts as a trusted, non-tamper-proof certificate because it is registered on the blockchain.

With the chip and bottle number, all you have to do is call the platform to identify the bottle as well as its provenance and route. Wokenwine will associate the slide with the color code: it will be green when the wine is still stored in the winemaker, yellow when it is with the mediums, black when the bottle is drunk Liger-Belair explains.

It will then remain to advertise the existence of Wokenwine and the association of certain wines with NFTs which may encourage buyers to check the authenticity of the bottles during acquisition. This system can limit the movement of liquor. Once the bottle is stored in a convenient place, changing the owner can be reduced to a simple modification of its code, without any movement. ” This could avoid having bottles traveling tens of thousands of kilometers before they are sold, continues Louis-Michel Leger-Belair. In addition to issues of inventory handling and strict protection against counterfeit products, it also comes down to who drinks wine and how they drink it. I am interested in identifying and meeting good clients that I don’t know. As of July, he himself plans to connect 3,000 bottles of his production to this system, which is between 20,000 and 30,000 bottles each year.
How much will this protective device cost interested parties? ” It is still under discussion. For the product, we want this to correspond to less than 10% of the price of the bottle. It remains to be seen whether intermediaries will share in the cost of this technology.»

Wokenwine, far from that, will not be the only player in the NFT market associated with wine exchange security. Other systems offer to equip the bottles with an RFID tag that ensures the link between the wine bottle and the information on the blockchain. For a year, the sector was in full swing. Large groups multiply initiatives. Last October, Dom Perignon Champagne introduced one hundred bottles designed with Lady Gaga and their NFT versions, which were sold in a virtual space. Château Angélus, in Saint-Émilion, and Australian brand Penfolds follow the movement, like many others, mixing advertising influence, the desire to be in tune with the times, anti-fraud and the desire to precisely track high-value products. The wine lover should emerge as a winner from the implementation of these new devices, provided they do not have a rhyme at an exorbitant cost per bottle.

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