Analysis reveals worrying levels of wine fraud in Romania

Wine glassesA lab method that can detect common types of wine adulteration has revealed high levels of wine fraud in Romania.

The scientists - from the University of Bucharest and the National Research and Development Institute for Cryogenics and Isotopic Technologies - say the battery of tests can detect counterfeited sweet or medium sweet red table wines, including those which have had sweeteners, dyes, alcohol, water, sugar or other substances added to allow them to be sold for a higher price.

In particular, adulteration of wines by adding synthetic sweeteners or dyes has recently "become a serious problem" and - because of a risk of carcinogenic activity - "represents a real danger for human health," say the scientists.

"In recent years wine control authorities have been confronted with an increasing number of cases of wines which were suspected not to be authentic or adulterated," they write in the journal Food Control (April 2016 edition).

"Consumers, regulatory bodies and manufacturers are all interested to have reliable analytical tools and information to allow the authentication and detection of wine adulteration or incorrect labelling."

The proposed testing strategy relies on the analysis of stable isotopes of carbon and oxygen - which can detect the addition of sugar and water.

This is followed by a chromatographic assessment of the nature and profile of nine major anthocyanin compounds - which can serve as important tracers to differentiate red wines and identify their origin - as well as various additives.

To road-test the testing protocol, the scientists purchased 29 bottles of table wine bought on the open market in Romania.

They discovered that 28 per cent were adulterated and 17 per cent were suspect of adulteration, indicating "an alarming increase of fraudulent practices in the wine industry."

Image courtesy of
Champiofoto / Shutterstock

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