Italian Police Raid Nets 30,000 Bottles of Fake Wine

The tip-off came from discerning drinkers who realized the expensive Brunello di Montalcino they were sipping was not the real deal, according to Italian authorities today.

Related: LA wine collector accused of trying to sell counterfeit wine.

Italian police today said they seized 30,000 bottles of counterfeit Brunello, Chianti Classico and Sagrantino di Montefalco - all cheap wine with a fancy, fake label - from central Italy in a raid after a three-month investigation.

Paolo Lazzeroni/AP Photo

The bottles had been sold in bars, wine stores and supermarkets for about $40 each. Italian police said the fraud could total hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Related: Chef sued for allegedly selling counterfeit wine bottle.

According to a French newspaper, a staggering 20 percent of wine on the worldwide market might be fake.

And with the US beating out France in wine consumption for the first time in 2013 - drinking 329 million cases a year - authorities said some of the fake wine could be headed into international markets, including America.

Susan Brink O'Flaherty, owner of Venokado in California, said preventing fake wine from reaching consumers started with governments and their differing laws on labeling.

"I believe that there probably are wines out there that are not what they say they are," Brink O'Flaherty said. "One way to get what the label says you're getting is to buy from a small producer."

The person or persons behind the bottles confiscated today were not identified.