They say you shouldn’t believe what you read in the papers, but now you can’t believe what’s in your glass either. Fake wine is being manufactured — and apparently wine afficianados can’t even tell the difference.
These fake wines are manufactured in a lab in Denver by Integrated Beverage Group — a company started in 2015 by Ari Walker and Kevin Hicks, whose sole purpose is to duplicate popular wines and sell them to retailers at a much cheaper price. The company analyzes particles that make up a wine in a lab, so that the team — which includes master sommeliers and chemists — can replicate the same taste. The group starts by bulk buying cheaper wines and mixing them together until they taste overwhelmingly similar to the wine they are trying to recreate. Wine experts then verify the taste before it’s bottled.
Though the company currently produces wine, it all started with baby food. In 2012, Kevin Hicks received the news that he was going to become a father. Desperate to find an alternative to pricey organic baby food, he sent samples of the high priced varieties of baby food to a lab for analysis. According to Wired, the lab analysis of samples was starting to cost Hicks too much money, so he created a lab of his own. Investing several million dollars into the business, he was able to hire a team of scientists and buy lab equipment, and the company — Ellipse Analytics — eventually went on to provide its clients with chemical breakdowns of numerous consumer products, like protein powders and sunscreens. Not long after, Walker proposed that the lab be used to analyze wine.
So far, these replica wines are sold in 49 states, and the team has been able to match the key flavors and attributes of some of the most popular drinks on the market, such as Dom Pérignon and Chardonnay.
But there are some beverages that just can’t be copied — like wines where all the grapes come from a specific vineyard, for example.
Hicks also told Wired, “The reason we’re so successful is that it tastes consistent, year after year, bottling after bottling. You know what you’re going to get, like Coca-Cola or Campbell’s soup.”
Our take? Let’s just say we’re curious, but not convinced!
This article was originally written by Phoebe Park. For more, check out our sister site, Grazia.