Corks with "Fingerprints" to Combat Wine Fraud

Wednesday, 20 November, 2013
Diana Goodman, Wine-searcher
While the battle against wine fraud is fiercely fought, counterfeiting has thus far proved impossible to stamp out. Now, an Italian cork producer has developed – and patented – an invention designed to "guarantee the authenticity of a wine."
Using corks imprinted with individual codes, Brentapack has created the "IDCORK" system, which allows users to access details of a wine's history via an app. It's based on the conviction that while labels can be copied, corks cannot.

"The composition of a cork is like a fingerprint," said Brentapack spokeswoman Anna Michelazzo, following Tuesday's launch at the International Enological and Bottling Equipment Exhibition in Milan. "The natural holes within it, the little cracks, make it unique – a one-off."

At the company's factory, the ID corks are printed with a personal number and then photographed from all angles. This information is scanned into a database, along with details of where and when the cork was harvested and made, and its individual characteristics.

"From there, wineries [that have purchased the corks] go into the database and insert all the information they want to include," explained Michelazzo. "For example, where the wine comes from, when the cork was inserted, the brand, the region, the vintage, the blend, and a picture of the bottle."

After the bottle has been opened, consumers take an image of their cork and the app uses "visual recognition" to compare the on-screen shot and the cork that's just been pulled.

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