For a sommelier, knowing a wine is authentic, and cared for appropriately is everything. Wines are very delicate, and the slightest mistreatment can result in a total loss of flavor. Not to mention they're one of the most frequently counterfeited products on the planet, so verifying authenticity is really everything.
When The Antique Wine Company launched in 1982, one of the major focuses was ensuring the wine was authentic, and handled with appropriate care. The way that they achieve this goal comes about in a variety of ways. First and foremost in being able to guarantee the age of a vintage.
For the best wines, the most important aspect is age. But unfortunately this is also one of the aspects that's most frequently counterfeited. Proving that 15 year old Furmint is actually 15 years old requires a very careful process, utilizing some pretty incredible technology.
Essentially bottles are tested via ion beam analysis. This is achieved by analyzing X-rays emitted when the bottle is placed under an ion beam produced by a particle accelerator. By looking at the results, experts are able to determine, and verify the exact age of the glass in a bottle of wine, and therefore the age of the wine itself.
The process is an exact science, meaning there's a very small margin of error. Moreover, it's done without the threat of damaging, or tampering with the wine inside. Meaning they are are able to fully authenticate a wine's age, without damaging the potential flavor.
But another really important aspect is shipping. For a major company like The Antique Wine Company, they ship a lot of wine of course. So finding a way to do so without the wine suffering in the process is difficult. That's why they have to carefully pack.
The shipment has to be made to withstand a little bit of punishment, because no shipping company is perfect. But then they also need to be kept appropriately chilled which is vital. A wine that's brought up to room temperature, or above, could be completely ruined. The same is true of the wine being exposed to the sun, which is why the bottle has to be completely concealed, as any change in outside temperature can negatively affect the delicate balance of flavors inside the bottle.