Connecticut liquor stores accused of deceptive ratings displays

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NEW HAVEN--Connecticut consumers are being warned to look carefully before purchasing their next bottles of wine.

An investigation from Madison-based watchdog group Truth in Advertising concluded that many Connecticut liquor stores are displaying ratings cards that do not match with the bottles actually being sold. The group visited almost 30 liquor stores along the shoreline and found nearly 90 percent of display ratings do not correspond with the bottles or vintages on the shelves.

"We found this problem everywhere from Costco to your mom-and-pop store," said Bonnie Patten, executive director of Truth in Advertising.

Patten claims different vintages can make a significant difference in the quality of the wine and its price. "You might be willing to pay a certain price for a 2006 bottle of wine. You may not be willing to pay that same price for a 2004 bottle."

FOX 61 scanned the shelves at several liquor stores in New Haven. We discovered two ratings display discrepancies at OddBins Bottle Shop, including a 2014 bottle of Pitule Moscato D' Asti for sale above a ratings display for the 2007 vintage. We also found five discrepancies at The New Bottle Shop. The store displayed a ratings card for the 2013 vintage of The Prisoner, but was selling the 2014 vintage for $49.99.

Jahnvi Patel, owner of Toast Wines in West Hartford, showed us the ratings displays around her store, all correctly matched with their corresponding bottles. Patel said it would not be easy for store owners to mistakenly display wrong ratings. "If the card is there with the ratings and the vintage would not match, then obviously we know the card should not go there," said Patel.

Patten sais Connecticut consumers can no longer rely on the ratings displays, and recommends double checking the display information against the bottle before purchasing.

Truth in Advertising said it has sent letters to all liquor stores where it found misrepresentations and alerted the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection about its findings.