Wine fraud raises an interesting philosophical question. Say you believe yourself to have had a pleasurable taste experience, for which you have been happy to pay a handsome price – and say you have been misled over the taste or price. If you never become aware of the deceit, there’s no harm done, is there?

Perhaps not to you, so long as you’re not being poisoned. But it is, quite rightly, a crime to undermine an honest trade by perpetrating such deceptions. And according to Spectator Life, it’s a surprisingly common one, with up to 20 per cent of so-called vintages being less expensive wines. Using old bottles, corks and labels – or faking them – fraudsters are playing havoc with the top end of the market, which can only have adverse consequence for the whole sector.

As the article points out, vintners already face the prospect of widespread counterfeiting if health campaigners impose plain packaging on alcohol, as they have on tobacco. We can only add that the consequences would not only affect makers, buyers and sellers. The Treasury would be deprived of duty, while both the public and police would be further burdened by organised crime.

And in fact, in a plain-packed world, more people would be poisoned. The easier it is to fake something – as the oenophiles’ scandal is proving – the easier is it to pass off inferior product.

Anti-freeze, anyone? In a world of fake news, let’s not have fake booze.

by Julia Dixon