Monday, August 01, 2005

TTB fingerprinting

The Press Democrat (Santa Rosa, Ca) yesterday had a couple of nice articles about the TTB's efforts to use modern trace metal & minerals analysis to fingerprint wine for it's origins.

See these links to the two articles :

Tests baffle Healdsburg winemakers
TTB test for wine’s origin & composition

Good news for those who question the integrity of winemakers! Perhaps now the US Gov’t will be testing wines and notifying winemakers when they think they need more investigation. That should add quite a bit of ammunition to their cases where fraud has been perpetrated.

Only a small sampling (~35 wines) have been tested, though the above graph from the articles shows some very promising results. Certainly the information's not complete enough to pinpoint which individual vineyard a wine came from - at least not yet...but given time I imagine that might become the case. A final question remains the cost of the testing, and the need.

Just how rampant do people think fraud is?

My first thought is that this new testing data can be used by the industry to bolster consumer confidence. Have your wine tested voluntarily, and showcase the results. But that assumes that consumers have some serious and large-scale doubts, which I don't think they do on the whole...
And accuracy needs to be improved as well - right now, the amount of data TTB has accumulated is too small to really be the defining factor in saying whether a wine's a fraud or not.


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