Detecting Wine Fraud in the Nuclear Age

Since wines range from dirt cheap to astronomically expensive, fraudulent wine dealers are raking in the dough by diluting expensive wines with cheaper varieties, or mislabeling the vintage. How to catch these crooks? Carbon dating! Scientists can detect a wine's vintage to within a year using methods to detect traces of radioactive carbon-14 released into the atmosphere by nuclear testing.
Almost all the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere contains the stable carbon-12 form of the element. Each atom of carbon-12 has six neutrons and six protons in its nucleus. But atmospheric atomic bomb tests, which ended in 1963, released vast amounts of radioactive carbon-14 into the air. A carbon-14 atom has two extra neutrons.

When grapes grow on the vine, they absorb carbon dioxide, which contains both stable carbon and traces of radioactive carbon-14 left over from bomb tests, from the air. As time goes by, carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel burning dilutes the amount of carbon-14 in the atmosphere.

The proportions of the different types of carbon pinpoint the wine's age. This method could be used to date other consumables, if we didn't have expiration dates. Link -via Arbroath

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A similar method was used to calibrate the relation between tree rings and number of years' growth, and growth ring rates in certain types of mussels, or to establish the ages of coral deposits.
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They touched on something similar a few weeks ago in an episode of White Collar. To test whether or not a famed bottle of vintage wine was authentic without opening it, they tested for cesium.

Apparently, the authentic bottle would have none present as there was no radioactive fallout present in the soil/grapes prior to this wine's bottling - and everything from then on out SHOULD have cesium present due to the detonation on an uber-bomb.
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