Chinese crime gangs flooding UK shops with fake bottles of Australian wine

Chinese crime gangs are behind a fake Aussie wine scam in the UK, say experts.

Phoney versions of the Yellow Tail brand – including Merlot, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Grigio – have been found in shops across the country.

Criminals are forging convincing labels to stick on the bottles then selling them to shopkeepers.

Trading standards officers believe the counterfeiters are part of an international racket exploiting the UK’s booming £3.2billion wine market. Drinks expert Ewan Lacey says they are often based in China.

He said: “China is an epicentre for counterfeit wine. They bottle another country’s wine which they’ve bought for a dollar.”

Trading standards officers launched an investigation after customers complained bottles of Yellow Tail wine bought from KVK supermarket in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, didn’t taste right.

They seized 41 bottles bearing the popular Yellow Tail label which were confirmed to be fake by brand owner Casella.

Other bottles have been found elsewhere in the country.

Birmingham trading standards said the racket could do untold damage to genuine brands if consumers were put off buying them.

A spokesman said: “This is a large-scale operation, probably originating abroad, using organised crime gangs in the UK to distribute and sell the products.”

Chris Jones, of West Midlands police, said: “The only way this alcohol could have been bought is off the back of a lorry. The premises didn’t know if it was fit for public consumption.”

KVK supermarket has lost its alcohol licence. Owner Kuladevi Thavarasa said staff had bought the wine in her absence.