New tech protects wine buyers from fraud

Steve Glamuzina has developed a new technology to cut down on wine and liquor fraud with a chip embedded onto the bottle label. (Dave Jarosz)

Steve Glamuzina has developed a new technology to cut down on wine and liquor fraud with a chip embedded onto the bottle label. (Dave Jarosz)

By Cherie Messore | February 23, 2018

Fake news, forgeries and other Internet scams are nothing new to the world, sadly. But a local businessman has developed a cutting-edge technology to help cut down on at least one bad behavior: wine fraud.

Wine fraud is a global issue with local ramifications. Steve Glamuzina, owner of Georgetown Square Wine and Liquor, says it’s a growing problem as more consumers bypass their local stores to shop for wine online. Glamuzina found his customers were bringing in counterfeit wines they’d purchased online believing they were the real deal.

He realized that once consumers were hit, reputable dealers and retailers were also victims. He turned to technology to create a safeguard that assures buyers the product is authentic.

His tech tool, Prosurix, uses near field communication (NFC) technology to assure the customer that the content reflects what is stated on the label — and implied by the price tag.

The NFC chip is embedded into a label, which the manufacturer applies to each bottle. Wine buyers can download the free app (from either Google Play or the Apple Store), scan the label, and verify authenticity immediately. The wine retailer and the consumer will know right away if it’s legit.

“The chip can’t be written over,” says Glamuzina. If it’s damaged, it’s a red flag that the bottle may be compromised.

In addition to snuffing out counterfeit wines, Prosurix delivers a wealth of information. By scanning the NFC, the app can call up video from the vineyard where the wine is grown; suggest food pairings; or deliver viticulture information.

It’s a next-gen method of blending consumer protection with information and metrics. It creates two-way communication, too: The consumer can post and share comments about the wine. Hello citizen sommelier, goodbye faux-jolais.

Glamuzina hired a local chief technology officer — Jeff Murphy — to develop a proprietary algorithm that’s the foundation of the patented product. Prosurix began rolling out last month for clients in California and Washington state wine-producing regions. Glamuzina said wine makers have been very receptive to the prospect of having their products protected, and by having new ways to deliver marketing messages directly to consumers. “Other companies are scanning wine labels, but nothing else is authenticating products in this way,” said Glamuzina.

Prosurix isn’t limited to wine.

“Anything can be counterfeited,” says Glamuzina. “This technology can be spun out to other products, too, like medical devices or pharmaceuticals. There is great interest in rolling this out to other products. It’s just a matter of time.”