Chips and NFT: Soon nonsense on our wine bottles?

With the advent of Web3, a revolution for wine threatens. The soaring price of rare labels warms people’s minds. Of start up Swedish, American and French companies now offer to “chip” the most expensive bottles to make them traceable. George Orwell and Aldous Huxley …

The topic is intriguing because many winemakers are suffering from speculation rather than creating it. They want to know better the life of their bottles. Are they traveling? Who resells them and with what added value? Who drinks them in the end? They are also tired of fighting counterfeits. An endless battle.

We remember Aubert de Villaines’ crusade against Romanée-Conti dealers. The co-manager of the most famous domain in the world mobilized mysterious correspondents in the auction rooms to note by hand the numbers of the bottles offered at auction, which then allowed him to remove the award from the client who was considered to be both. greedy and insensitive. A Tintin-like atmosphere that makes you smile today.

And now the digital aces offer to solve all these problems. Their solution? Keeps microchips in the bottle. These chips are geolocalized and are supposed to allow the winemaker to follow the migration of their bottles around the world. Do they cross the seas? Are they stored in a free port, do they sleep in a warehouse in Hong Kong? It is very serious, several stars in the vineyard are already testing this equipment: Anselme Selosse, Count Liger-Belair and others.

Increasingly, it is a “packageChip + NFT

. Each bottle is connected to a “digital work of art”, which of course must increase in value. Laurent David, a former Apple in charge of Château Edmus in Saint-Émilion, already sells magnums with an electronic version of the label painted by an artist in the form of NFT, with a chip sealed in the neck. Last avatar, the launch of marketplace by three Frenchmen: Xavier Garambois, co-founder of Wine & Co and former head of Amazon Europe, Guillaume Jourdan (Vitabella Paris) and Nicolas Mendiharat (Palate Club in San Francisco). The trio announces the creation of “dynamic communities between prestigious estates and passionate and demanding consumers”. Clearly, the opening of an exclusive digital channel between ultra-rich and big brands.

The winemaker is promised wonders: chip and NFT will guarantee the authenticity of his wines, he will have access to “all customer data”, and tomorrow the chip will notify him of every resale of his wines anywhere in the world, which will trigger payment of a commission … Wonderful, right?

And the amateur, what will this electronic snich on his bottle bring him? guarantees him the authenticity, traceability and perfect storage of the wines he buys. Well. But on this account, how can one not imagine that tomorrow only bottles with their chip will be considered authentic? “Every amateur will also be able to control their cellar by reselling their wiNeFT on WineChain,” promises the platform, which we feel is very focused on paid exchanges.

And the ethics of all this? The principle of ownership to begin with. So far, anyone who buys a bottle has the right to do with it as he sees fit. Once the wine is sold, the winemaker is not supposed to follow the movements of his bottles on his screen.

One of the pleasures of wine is its simplicity, the blood of the earth in a bottle. We learn, we meet winemakers, we buy wine from them, we take it from our cellar, we share it, we drink it, we give it away. There’s something scary about ‘tracking’ bottles like the latest € 4 million Bugatti Chiron, right?

And so this: the wines acquired over the course of a lifetime, all taxes paid, allow connoisseurs to discreetly pass on a legacy to their loved ones. What is the point of seeing your purchases tracked by electronics when you are not living in Shanghai or London?

If we sum up: the emergence of cut wines plays into the hands of speculation, it is obvious; some collected data may be of interest to wine growers, we understand this if we do not accept it. There is still this certainty: cut wine will not bring anything good to the authentic connoisseur.

Non-fungible token. These are unique cryptographic signatures encoded and stored in a blockchain (read La RVF No. 661, June 2022 and No. 658, March 2022).

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