Chips and NFT: Soon clicked on our wine bottles?

With the arrival of Web3, a revolution for wine is imminent. The rising price of rare labels is heating people’s minds. Of the to start Swedish, American and French companies are now offering to “chip” the most expensive bottles to make them traceable. George Orwell and Aldous Huxley…

The subject is exciting because many vintners suffer from speculation rather than creation. They would like to know the life of their bottles. Are they traveling? Who resells them and with what added value? Who ends up drinking them? They are also tired of fighting counterfeits. An endless battle.

We remember Aubert de Villaine’s crusade against the Romanée-Conti dealers. The co-administrator of the world’s most famous domain mobilized mysterious correspondents in the auction rooms to manually jot down the numbers of the bottles to be auctioned, which then allowed him to remove the client’s allotment, which he considered both greedy and insensitive. A Tintin-esque atmosphere that will make you smile today.

And now the digital aces are offering to solve all these problems. Their solution? Microchips in the bottle. These chips are geolocated and are believed to allow the winemaker to track the wanderings of their bottles in the world. Do they cross the seas? Are they stored in a free port, are they sleeping in a warehouse in Hong Kong? It is very serious, several stars of the vineyard are already testing this equipment: Anselme Selosse, Count Liger-Belair and others.

It is increasingly becoming apackage” chip + NFT

† Each bottle is associated with a “digital work of art” that should naturally increase in value. Laurent David, a former Apple head of Château Edmus in Saint-Émilion, is already selling magnums with an electronic version of the label painted by an artist in the form of NFT, with a chip sealed in the neck. Last avatar, the launch of the marketplace by three Frenchmen: Xavier Garambois, co-founder of Wine & Co and former boss of Amazon Europe, Guillaume Jourdan (Vitabella Paris) and Nicolas Mendiharat (Palate Club in San Francisco). The trio announce the creation of “dynamic communities between prestigious estates and passionate and discerning consumers”. Clearly the opening of an exclusive digital channel between ultra-rich and major labels.

The winegrower is promised miracles: chip and NFT will guarantee the authenticity of his wines, he will have access “to all customer data” and tomorrow the chip will inform him of any resale of his wines anywhere in the world, which will lead to to the payment of a commission… Delicious isn’t it?

And the amateur, what will this electronic detector on his bottle bring him? guarantees him the authenticity, traceability and perfect preservation of the wines he buys. Good. But how can you not therefore imagine that tomorrow only bottles with their chip will be considered authentic? “Any amateur will also be able to manage their cellar by reselling their wiNeFT on WineChain,” promises the platform, which we believe is very much focused on paid exchanges.

And the ethics in all of this? The principle of ownership to start with. Anyone who buys a bottle can do with it as they see fit until further notice. Once the wine has been sold, the winemaker is not supposed to follow the movement of his bottles on his screen.

One of the joys of wine is its simplicity, the blood of the earth in a bottle. We learn, we meet winegrowers, we buy wine from them, we take it from our cellar, we share it, we drink it, we give it away. There’s something terrifying about bottle tracing like the latest €4 million Bugatti Chiron, isn’t there?

And then this: the wines acquired throughout life, all taxes paid, allow connoisseurs to discreetly pass on a heritage to their loved ones. What’s the point of seeing your purchases tracked by electronics if you don’t live in Shanghai or London?

To sum it up: the arrival of chipped wines plays into speculation, that’s for sure; some data collected may be of interest to winegrowers, we understand if we don’t accept it. There remains this certainty: chipped wine will not bring the authentic connoisseur anything good.

Non-functioning token. These are unique cryptographic signatures that are encrypted and stored in a blockchain (read La RVF No. 661, June 2022, and No. 658, March 2022).

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