As soon as I sat down to start my interview with Giovanni de Sanctis, an official from the Italian Trade Commission, he poured me a glass from a bottle of "French wine" and invited me to have a taste.
"How's the wine?" he asked eagerly when I took a sip. I told him that I thought it tasted different from normal wine.
He smiled and picked up the so-called French wine, which he said was a gift a friend had bought for him from a Beijing supermarket.
"The wine wasn't made with grapes at all. It's just water and ink," de Sanctis said. "It's fake and shouldn't be called wine at all."
He pointed at the English label on the bottle, laughing at the wrong words and grammatical errors, and he added that it was interesting to see a wine selling in China without any Chinese characters on the label.
"It's common to see original Chinese products packaged as 'foreign brands', but those so-called famous foreign brands, in fact, don't even exist," he said.
De Sanctis, who is responsible for protecting the intellectual property rights of Italian companies and individuals investing in Beijing, has found many fake Italian brands, which are popular in China but do not exist in Italy. He has been doing this since he came to the capital two years ago.
"I was so surprised when I found the phenomenon while shopping in Beijing at the beginning. I've never seen those brands in my hometown (in Italy)," he said.
The 55-year-old Italian, working at a high office building in Beijing's Chaoyang district, said he often overlooked the busy commercial areas from the window, thinking how these fake brands flow into the market and why Chinese customers never doubt their authenticity.
"Some Chinese companies or businessmen use Italian trademarks or introductions to cheat customers, saying their brands have a long history and are based in an Italian town, but this is actually a business trick," he said.
He said such tricks also damage the reputation of real Italian companies and brands.
For example, Gafera, one of the so-called Italian brands in China, was actually a small company producing air fresheners for cars in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province.