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Unreserved Wine Talk

236 EpisodesProduced by Natalie MacLeanWebsite

The Unreserved Wine Talk podcast features candid conversations with the most fascinating people in the wine world. Your host, award-winning journalist Natalie MacLean, dives into how it feels to compete in the nerve-wracking World's Best Sommelier Competition, the shadowy underground of wine forgery… read more


29: Wine Scandals, Fakes and Forgery with Maureen Downey

In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, we’re chatting with Maureen Downey, a.k.a. the Wine Detective, about wine forgeries, fakes and scandals. You’ll learn tips on how to spot a fake wine based on the label and more. Enjoy!



  • Why did Maureen become interested in wine fraud?
  • What aspects of the wine does Maureen consider to determine its authenticity?
  • How does Maureen use technology when testing a wine’s authenticity?
  • How pervasive is wine counterfeiting?
  • What is blockchain and how can it help us to trace the provenance of a bottle of wine?
  • What are some of the simple information mistakes wine counterfeiters have made?
  • How can the average wine buyer avoid becoming a victim of wine fraud?
  • What role does the wine industry play in perpetuating wine fraud?


About Maureen Downey

Maureen Downey, DWS, CWE, FWS is known as the Sherlock Holmes of wines and is considered the world’s foremost expert in counterfeit wine identification. She is an expert on rare wines and an authority on wine fraud, counterfeit and fine wine authentication. She earned a degree in hospitality from Boston University and she took the advanced sommelier exams at the age of 23.

Over the past 20 years, she has inspected hundreds of millions of dollars worth of both authentic and counterfeit wine. She advises some of the world’s top collectors in purchasing, selling, and managing their collections with her firm Chai Consulting based in San Francisco. She has assisted the government prosecution in the biggest wine counterfeiting cased, ever tried by the US government and continues to work with law enforcement to investigate wine fraud cases. You can also catch her in the Netflix film, Sour Grapes.


To learn more about the resources mentioned in this episode, visit the show notes.

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