For those of you who treasure prosecco as your favourite tipple, the news that you may have been drinking a counterfeit will likely leave a sour taste in your mouth.
Last month, inspectors from the Food Standards Agency obtained a shipment in Coventry of thousands of bottles of sparkling wine that had been wrongly labelled as prosecco.
The FSA wine inspection team, led by Mark Dawson, discovered that the wine had been produced in Moldova but classified as though it’d been sourced from the northeast of Italy, where prosecco is made.
“Food crime around wine is similar to that in other areas, in that food criminals target products which will be easy to sell,” Dawson said in a statement provided to The Independent.
“Consumer demand for prosecco has increased and we do find products falsely claiming to be prosecco, most probably in order to capitalise on this demand.”
While determining whether prosecco is genuine or not isn’t the easiest of tasks if you’re not a self-professed oenophile, there are a few techniques that you can put into practise in order to uncover the truth.
“It can often be extremely difficult to tell a fake bottle from a real one if you’re not a big wine buff,” says Adrian Smith, founder and chief drinker of Sypped.
“Nearly all prosecco bottles are the same and labels don’t define a wine’s quality, so it can be incredibly hard to tell the difference.”
Smith explained that while there are businesses that put measures in place to protect people from being scammed when purchasing more expensive, vintage wines, the FSA is the predominant line of defence for people buying cheaper alternatives.
Here are his top tips for working out whether you’ve bought fake prosecco or the real deal:
Look at the label
Using an app like Vivino to scan the label is a really useful way of finding out whether you’ve been duped, Smith states.
Vivino is an online wine community, so by using it you’ll be able to discover what other people have been saying about the wine that you’re considering buying.
“This tight community are usually in the know when it comes to counterfeit goods that have been in the news, so a simple scroll through the comments will allow you to see if it’s already been flagged by others (with more than 30 million people using the app, there’re a lot of eyeballs,” he says.
Check the origins
Another way that you can assess whether your prosecco is authentic or not is by taking a closer look at where it was produced.
Bottles of Italian wine are labelled with DOC and DOCG classifications.
DOC stands for “Denominazione di Origine Controllata” (Denomination of Controlled Origin) and DOCG stands for “Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita” (Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin).
Smith recommends emailing either Prosecco DOC or Prosecco DOCG if you have any doubts about the validity of the wine.
“They should know who is producing wine within their respective appellations,” he states.
Do some online detective work
When in doubt, the internet can uncover the answers to many of your questions.
If you suspect that you may have bought a bottle of prosecco that’s bogus, then chances are someone else has found themselves in the same situation and shared their dismay online.
You should check to see if your particular bottle has been flagged as a counterfeit by other individuals, Smith advises.
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