Maureen Downey, founder of the Hong Kong based Chai Consulting (why that name?) in 2005. Downey is acknowledged as the world authority on wine fraud and counterfeit wine. Chai Consulting manages private wine collectors’ inventory, advising them and helping them when selling or buying wine. Advice is given on authentication and valuation. Downey has a US trademark for what is Called The Chai Method, Wine Authentication and The Chai Method Wine Valuation.

Background | Downey got into wine when studying at Boston University (which major?). In her junior year she and the Boston University Wine Team won Kevin Zraly’s International Wine Competition. After graduation, Downey qualified as a sommelier, and went on to manage some key New York restaurants. These included L’Espinasse, Felidia, and Tavern on the Green. She then spent six years as a fine and rare wine specialist for auction houses. This was where she honed her skills in fine and rare wine; appraisal, valuation, global wine trends, and wine inventory management. It was during this time she discovered fake wine for the first time. This did not make her popular at work.

Downey advised the FBI and the United States Department of Justice prior to the trial of fraudster Rudy Kurniawan. She also assisted and testified for mega-collector Bill Koch in the Koch v (Erik) Greenberg case. She also advised Koch in cases which were settled out of court with Acker Merrall and Condit, John Kapon, and Royal Wine Merchants. She was also asked to assist on the Proka v Charlie Trotter lawsuit.

The Identification Program | This covers the past, present and future of wine fraud and its detection. An introduction to the primary offenders. An analysis of how malicious vendors defraud fellow merchants and clients. The ways bottles are faked and what can be done to counter these corrupt practices. A hands-on workshop allows students to work with counterfeit and legitimate bottles, learning to use the tools favoured by Downey in her wine authentication work.

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