Fight against counterfeiting thanks to NFTs in wine

France is scared ‘, the presenter of the television news, Roger Gicquel, is said to have said. † Our customers are concerned », announces winemaker Louis-Michel Liger-Belair in the same serious tone. The cause of this fear? † There is a lot of talk about fakes in the wine world, explains the Burgundian. We have little experience with this phenomenon, but we know that it is not difficult to make a fake bottle, despite the numerous protections put in place by the producers. Not wanting to personally respond to a problem like this at the last minute, I decided to take the lead with my own solution.

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Fraud and counterfeiting: a plague that affects tens of thousands of bottles around the world every year. Within the institutions charged with control, the most pessimistic argue that 20% of the international wine trade would be affected. The subject is not new. Ancient scriptures tell of maneuvers to color wine and other subterfuges. Stories of misleading mixes, forgeries of names and false labels have punctuated the history of this small world. In France, the Directorate-General for Competition, Consumers and Anti-Fraud (DGCCRF) monitors the regularity of microcosm operations, supported by nine wine and spirits research teams. However, the world trade in vintages has intensified. The community recalls the case of Rudy Kurdiawan, an Indonesian forger, forger of burgundies from the Rousseau estate, Château de la Tour and dozens of other grands crus.

With more and more bottles being exchanged over the internet, many middlemen – merchants, online auction specialists… – are taking on the role of authenticator, but with different skills and sometimes morality, modulated by business interests, some producers say. Louis-Michel Liger-Belair, for his part, believes that it is up to the winemaker to guarantee the authenticity of the production to the various buyers. The solution is called Wokenwine, named after a new Luxembourg-based company founded by financier Valéry Lux,” a wine lover and consumer who has had to deal with questionable bottles, but also a passion for new technologies and a great expert on blockchain issues » explains Louis-Michel Liger-Belair. The latter is itself a 20% shareholder of this platform that associates each bottle with an NFT, ie a digital format that acts as a non-falsifiable certificate of authenticity because it is recorded on the blockchain.

Having the chip and the number of the bottle, it is enough to connect to the platform to identify the bottle, its origin and its route. Wokenwine will associate the chip with a color code: it is green if the wine is still with the winemaker, yellow if it is with the middlemen, black if the bottle is finished explains Liger-Belair.

It then remains to disclose the existence of Wokenwine and the association of certain wines with NFTs, which could encourage buyers to check the authenticity of the bottles during purchase. This system could limit the movement of wines. Once a bottle is stored in a suitable place, the change of ownership can be reduced to a simple code change, without any movement. † This can prevent bottles from traveling tens of thousands of miles before being sold, continues Louis-Michel Liger-Belair. Besides issues of inventory management and strict protection against counterfeits, it is also about who drinks the wine and how they drink it. I’m interested in identifying good clients I don’t know and meeting them. From July, he wants to link 3,000 bottles of his production to this system, which fluctuates between 20,000 and 30,000 bottles annually.
How much will this protective equipment cost the interested parties? † It is still under discussion. For the producer, we want this to be less than 10% of the price of the bottle. It also remains to be determined whether the intermediaries will contribute to the costs of this technology.

Far from it, Wokenwine will not be the only player in the NFT market associated with wine exchange security. Other systems offer to equip the bottles with an RFID tag that guarantees the link between the bottle of wine and the information in the blockchain. The sector has been running at full speed for a year. Large groups multiply initiatives. Last October, Dom Pérignon champagne presented a hundred bottles designed with Lady Gaga and their NFT versions, which were sold in a virtual space. Château Angélus, in Saint-Émilion, and the Australian brand Penfolds are following the movement, like many others, with a mixture of announcement effects, the desire to move with the times, the fight against fraud and the desire to produce precisely high-quality products. trace. The wine lover should become a winner from the implementation of these new devices, provided that this does not rhyme with too high a cost of the bottle.

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