Project VinoVeritas - Combating Wine Fraud against Maltese Wine

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

One innovative project conducted by researchers at the University of Malta, leading the charge in securing the wine supply chain, is VinoVeritas. The prototype aims to mitigate wine fraud, increase transparency, and provide wine lovers with authentic products they can trust. While VinoVeritas aims to pioneer change in Malta, its principles and methods can inspire similar endeavours worldwide, setting a gold standard for wine authentication. As Mr Gowher Parry, one of the researchers involved in the project, says: ‘In a world filled with choice, authenticity is the finest vintage.’ 

While VinoVeritas is an initial investigation, it has set ambitious goals in its quest to combat wine fraud. It paves the way for a future merging of blockchain technology with national stamps of approval, prioritising transparency in the wine supply chain. By doing so, VinoVeritas intends to reduce risks and eliminate a number of remaining gaps that fraudsters exploit. Indeed, it does not remove all risks, but it provides a way of reducing a number of risks in an efficient manner.

The journey of VinoVeritas has yielded significant achievements and findings. Firstly, through the integration of blockchain technology, this project has taken crucial steps toward securing wine supply chains. Blockchain ensures that wine data originating from onboarded wineries includes certification labels that cannot be altered or counterfeited.

Existing solutions allow for QR codes to be placed on wine labels. These QR codes can be scanned by consumers, providing access to comprehensive information about the product. The innovation VinoVeritas brings is that it cross-references data from the various supply-chain stakeholders and authorities against the blockchain. If the data matches, then the product can be verified to be certified — with guarantees that the data was not tampered with at any point. If not, the consumer is alerted to the potential counterfeit or processes that were not followed. So, with just a simple scan, consumers can be confident in the genuineness of their purchase, merging tradition with state-of-the-art technology.

A second innovation developed through the project involves the proposal of an efficient solution for the storage and verification of supply-chain data using a blockchain. Typically a lot of the blockchain verification process is done ‘on-chain’, which can consume higher costs. In VinoVeritas, various techniques were investigated to establish optimal solutions for storing and verifying data in a manner that does not reduce the guarantees provided by blockchains.

Future Scope and Innovations

VinoVeritas acknowledges the importance of user feedback. In future, it plans to leverage user feedback to help refine wines. VinoVeritas currently allows for the integration of various Internet-of-Things sensors. Once such data is coupled with user feedback, it could pave the way for providing further insights to wineries. By making use of AI models, it may be able to predict not only the future quality of a wine but also the perception of it by consumers. This dynamic feedback loop ensures that the wine supply chain adapts to meet evolving consumer preferences and expectations.

By securing the wine supply chain, combating fraud, and promoting transparency, VinoVeritas aims to preserve the trust and satisfaction of wine enthusiasts. This would allow consumers to enjoy their favourite wines with confidence, knowing that the bottle in their hand is an authentic and safe representation of the time-honoured art of winemaking.

As we raise our glasses to toast this revolutionary journey, we are reminded that, in vino veritas — in wine, there is truth. As technology advances and wine continues to hold its sacred place in our celebrations and dinners, one must ponder: what’s the next frontier in preserving its legacy and purity? Only time, and perhaps more technological innovations, will tell. Thanks to blockchain technology and forward-thinking initiatives like VinoVeritas, that truth shines more brilliantly than ever before.

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