Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America Issues Guidance for Summer Travelers on Spotting Fake Alcohol

May 30, 2019
“The 4 Ps Can Save Your Life: Place, Product, Price and Packaging”

Washington—Summer travel means 100 million Americans or 4 in 10 U.S. adults according to a 2019 AAA survey will go on vacation, with many exploring countries outside of the nation and enjoying alcohol. If you or someone in your travel party intend on having a few drinks in another country, you should be aware that not all countries have a well-regulated beverage alcohol system like the U.S. This is more often resulting in wine and spirits containing toxic substances like methanol, jet fuel and various narcotics that can result in illness, organ failure and even death. Here are a few general tips when enjoying wine and spirits abroad, as well as the “4 Ps” of “how to detect counterfeit alcohol.”


General tips:

  1. Always purchase wine and spirits from a bar, restaurant or retailer in the main shopping or business district. Avoid buying alcohol in remote or “off the beaten path” locations.
  2. Stick with brands you recognize and avoid the ones you do not. And when possible, do not purchase premixed drinks. It is preferred the drink be made in front of you so you can watch the product be poured from a bottle. Be sure to check the bottle for poor labeling, misspelled words, and torn labels and seals.
  3. When you walk into the liquor store, bar or restaurant, be sure to see a good mix of other patrons. Seeing that both locals and tourists are shopping, dining or drinking there is a sign that the establishment is serving responsibly.
  4. If the price seems too cheap to be true, it probably is. Be mindful of cheap, discount products.”


Why is drinking in a country outside of the U.S. different than drinking in the homeland?  The unique beverage alcohol system in America is comprised of three tiers: suppliers, distributors and retailers, all of which are held accountable by a strict and robust business practices and regulatory structure. Every entity in U.S. three-tier system is licensed by the state in which it does business and all wineries, brewers, distilleries, and distributors are also licensed and regulated by the federal government. This means that all three tiers (suppliers, distributors and retailers work hand in hand with state and federal regulators, helping ensure safety and product legitimacy for U.S. consumers. If the three-tier system didn’t exist, counterfeit alcohol could prevail and range from bootleg liquor produced in unsafe or unknown locations, to refilling bottles with cheaper, or possibly toxic product. All of which can lead to health risks, including dizziness, blindness, nausea, liver or kidney problems, and in some cases even death. As more headlines are printed and more people begin to travel, the value of the American three-tier system is reinforced and proves to be a model for the world.




Michael Bilello

SVP, Communications & Marketing

Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America

805 15th Street NW, Suite 1120

Washington, DC 20005


Cell: 813-732-0180