WSWA Issues Annual Travel Guidance on How to Spot Fake Alcohol Abroad

May 10, 2022
Washington, D.C.
The Four Ps That Can Save Your Life: Place, Product, Price and Packaging

WASHINGTON, D.C., 5/10/2022 – Americans are returning to international travel in record numbers as TSA reports that more than 2 million passengers are being screened daily with plans to explore other countries and to consume alcohol during their stays abroad.


If you or someone in your travel party intends on having a few drinks in another country, you should be aware not all countries have a well-regulated beverage alcohol system like the United States. This can result in wine and spirits containing toxic substances like methanol, jet fuel and various narcotics that can cause illness, organ failure or even death.


“The U.S. three-tier alcohol marketplace is the safest and best-regulated in the world,” said WSWA Chairman Tom Cole. “As Americans resume travel to popular vacation destinations, many are unaware of the potential dangers because of that very success, and should exercise caution when consuming alcohol.”


Here are a few general tips to follow when enjoying wine and spirits abroad, as well as the “Four Ps” of spotting counterfeit beverage alcohol:


PLACE: Always purchase wine and spirits from a bar, restaurant or retailer in the main shopping or business district. Avoid remote or “off the beaten path” locations. When you walk into the liquor store, bar or restaurant, consider the mix of the other patrons you see. Seeing that both locals and tourists are shopping, dining or drinking is a sign that the establishment is serving responsibly.


PRODUCT: Stick with brands you recognize and avoid the ones you do not. And when possible, do not purchase mixed drinks.


PACKAGING: When ordering in a bar or restaurant, ask that your drink be made in front of you so you can watch the product be poured from its bottle. If possible, check the bottle for poor labeling, misspelled words, and torn labels and seals.


PRICE: If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Be mindful of cheap, discount products.


Given the hardships of the global pandemic, many popular vacation destinations for Americans saw governments shut down breweries and distilleries because they were deemed “non-essential.” This gave birth to thriving black markets, resulting in increased amounts of illicit alcohol entering local retailers that may include resorts and restaurants.


About Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America

WSWA is the national trade association representing the distribution tier of the wine and spirits industry, dedicated to advancing the interests and independence of distributors and brokers of wine and spirits. Founded in 1943, WSWA has more than 380 member companies in 50 states and the District of Columbia, and its members distribute more than 80 percent of all wine and spirits sold at wholesale in the United States.  


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