The University of Texas Is Using Science to Identify Counterfeit Wine

By Mike Pomranz |

© Adam G. Gregor / Alamy

When you think of college students and drinking, usually images of cheap beer or Sunny D and vodka come to mind. But students in a lab at the University of Texas are on the fine wine beat: They want to make sure that what’s in a bottle is exactly what it claims to be.

The UT lab is creating ways to identify counterfeit wine like with array sensors that can determine a wine's varietals, when the grapes were harvested and other information about the fermented contents of the bottle. “What we try to do is differentiate the complex mixture...based on the tannin composition,” teaching aid Brenden Herrera told KVUE-ABC.

Counterfeit wine issues may be more common than some people think. KVUE points out that, last December, US Marshals had to destroy over 500 bottles of counterfeit wine found in Texas. And a lawsuit in California that helped inspire the UT project pitted a wine buyer against a distributor who was accused of using incorrectly identified grapes.

UT hopes their technology, which they are still fine tuning, could help combat such problems. “We are trying to see if our system can be more sensitive,” said research advocate Diana Zamora. Though as long as it can tell you which wines are white and which are red, it’s probably already ahead of most of the population.

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