Prosecco remains the most popular fizz in the UK, but experts have warned that the high demand for the Italian sparkling wine has led to a rise in counterfeit products.
So what makes Prosecco, er, Prosecco?
Prosecco is a controlled designation of origin in North east Italy, where sparkling, semi-sparkling or still wine is principally made from the Glera grape variety. There are two levels of quality assurance labels – DOC – Denominazione di Origine Controllata (controlled designation of origin) and DOCG – Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (controlled designation of origin guaranteed) – which help to protect the Prosecco region outside of Italy.
Yet the Food Standards Agency says they are seeing sub-standard sparkling wines from Eastern Europe being passed off as the authentic Italian version. According to FSA wine inspector, Mark Dawson, a shipment of thousands of bottles of Prosecco found in Coventry last month turned out to be wine from Moldova.
'Products that are known to the consumer are targeted, like Prosecco,' Dawson told The Express.
'This is the most common one we find. Fraudsters are always looking to cash in on current trends.'
Out of the 4,000 samples that are sent off to laboratories for testing each year, Dawson added that less than 1,000 will need 'acting on', which might involve replacing the labelling, for example.
In order to track down potential frauds, trading standards officers will examine details like the foil and cage on each bottle. But finding the differences between the counterfeit and genuine, can be tricky, says Alexandra Hale, Good Housekeeping Wine & Spirits Specialist.
Alexandra's top tips for spotting fake Prosecco:
- Consider who you buy from 'Purchase from a genuine trustworthy merchant or shop. The majority of counterfeit wine is sold under the radar to unsuspecting small retailers and corner shops. Larger grocers or retailers and well known and respected independent retailers are highly unlikely to be stocking this sort of product.'
- Check the label 'Due to the strict legalities surrounding production, the origin of the Prosecco should be stated on the bottle as Prosecco DOC or Prosecco DOCG and more than likely make reference to the area in the Italian region that it was produced – make sure you check for this.'
- Do your research 'Use wine apps or websites to check the label or contact the generic bodies that represent the Prosecco appellations to check that the wine is bonafide.'
So now you know how to check your fizz is the real deal before popping the cork...
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