It’s been described as flowery, fruity and alluring – and at less than half the price of a bottle of Champagne, Prosecco has found favour among connoisseurs and Friday night pub-goers alike.
But while the popularity of Italy’s top sparkling wine soars, Prosecco producers are unhappy after learning that British pubs and corporate events are pouring their delicate drink like warm beer from the tap – even saying that massive fines should be considered.
Politicians in Italy are calling for the EU to step in. Michele Anzaldi, an MP on the country’s parliamentary agriculture commission, yesterday called on his government “to act immediately with the EU against the UK in defence of Prosecco given its incorrect provision in British pubs”.
Italian producers are angry because, since 2009, the name “Prosecco” should be used to describe the wine produced in the Conegliano-Valdobbiadene area of north-west Italy and not the grape it comes from.
“And this means it can only be sold in the bottle,” Luca Giavi, the director of the Prosecco DOC Consortium, said. “We’re not moaning or trying to criticise anyone. It’s all about helping the customer.”
In addition, he said that Prosecco, as a frizzante wine, was less fizzy than spumante wine and was, therefore, not suited to being on tap. “It’s not possible to get the right degree of pressurisation. My advice to British customers is to always go for a bottle,” he said.
Stefano Zanettin, the president of the consortium, said big EU fines might dissuade British pubs. “The fines range from €2,000 (£1,500) to €20,000 and are a valid instrument to dissuade this activity,” he said, although he told La Repubblica that he prefers “educating customers”.
The Priory Bar in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, is among those to have introduced drinkers to the delights of Prosecco on tap.
10 best proseccos
10 best proseccos
1/9 Waitrose San Leo
This pale, creamy-textured prosecco has flowery notes and a light peach flavour that makes it ideal for turning into a Bellini by adding peach juice. On its own, it is delicate, yet well-balanced and very easy on the palate, making it a great crowd-pleaser.£6.99, waitrose.com
2/9 Prosecco Asolo Bele Casel
Be sure to have a second bottle cooled and ready as this is so good that one will never seem enough, particularly if you’re drinking it with friends. Dry with clean, fresh fruit flavours including grapefruit and peach, at least you can console yourself, at 11 per cent proof, it’s relatively light in alcohol. £12.95, bbr.com
3/9 Aldi Valdobbiadene
This complex flavoured, stylish bubbly has an undertone of peach and apple, making it a great option as the Autumn sets in. Particularly refreshing and delicate, but also lightly creamy, it comes from North East Italy. £7.49, aldi.co.uk
4/9 M&S Prosecco Zardetto NV
M&S do an impressive range of proseccos, all of them boasting the hallmark lightness and fruity taste, but our vote goes to this particularly vibrant, off-dry and pronounced sparkling wine from the heart of the Congegliano hills, which makes an ideal apéritif or party wine.£11.99, marksandspencer.com
5/9 Prosecco Salatin Extra Dry
Even those who usually stay clear of sparkling wines, for fear of them tasting too acidic, seem to be turned by this stunning, light and delicate prosecco, which is fabulously aromatic and zesty. Enjoy this thirst quencher on its own or with seafood.£12.99, majestic.co.uk
6/9 Bisol Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Cartizze
This doesn’t come cheap, but it’s such a delicious sparkler that this faintly off-dry prosecco is well worth the extra money if you can afford it. Beautifully floral, with a slightly creamy nose, it is full on the palate, with a particularly elegant, uplifting finish.£31.99, selfridges.com
7/9 Rude Wines Prosecco Valdobbiadene
This award-winning dry fizz is an excellent value alternative to Champagne. Vibrant straw yellow in colour, it has an elegant floral bouquet and is fabulously fruity, while remaining refreshing on the palate.£12.99, rudewines.co.uk
8/9 Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference
Refreshing but not too dry, this is a perfect drink for warm days or evenings – anytime really. Particularly light and fruity, it is frequently on special offer, although a prosecco of this quality is still a bargain at just a tenner. £10, sainsburys.co.uk
9/9 Tesco Finest Bisol
This award-winning, deliciously soft sparkling wine is a top choice for a budget-friendly wedding drink, thanks to its wonderfully fresh and delicate taste of just-ripe pear flavours, along with its elegant finish and bubbles that aren’t too intense.£8.99, tesco.com
But the bar’s owner, Marcus Hilton, has changed the name of the on-tap sparking wine from Prosecco DOC to frizzante after he was paid a visit by officers from the Food Standards Agency, who told him he was in breach of EU regulations.
Mr Hilton supplies about 200 other venues with the wine, however, and he says it’s a possibility that not all the venues are so attentive with their labelling.
“I’m now calling it frizzante. But obviously I can’t answer for the other 200 or so people I’m supplying it to,” he said. But Mr Hilton suggests there might be benefits for Italy, too, from the move. “It shows how popular the drink is, and, to be honest, it’s all good publicity for them and good for the country with its struggling economy.”
Britain is now the world’s number one market for Prosecco, which at about £6 to £12 a bottle, is a third of the price of Champagne.
Globally, 300 million bottles were sold last year as world sales outstripped those of its French rival for the first time.
The French sparkling wine sold a record 339 million bottles in the heady year of 2007, before the global economic and financial crisis began weighing on the market a year later.Reuse content