Prosecco’s popularity has seen an alarming rise in counterfeit bottles being produced, according to the Foods Standard Agency (FSA).
The FSA revealed that they are seeing more and more bottles of sparkling wines from Eastern Europe trying to be passed off as the expensive Italian sparkling wine.
As Prosecco is classed as a ‘protected designation of origin’ product, like Champagne, it can only be produced in nine areas near the cities of Venice and Trieste in north-east Italy.
Mark Dawson, who is the FSA wine inspection team leader and ensures that the wine is authentic and safe to drink, revealed that thousands of bottles of fake Prosecco seized in Coventry last month actually turned out to be a shipment of sparkling wine from Moldova.
‘Products that are known to the consumer are targeted, like Prosecco,’ he told Sunday Express.
‘This is the most common one we find. Fraudsters are always looking to cash in on current trends.’
He added: ‘We take between 3,500 and 4,000 samples a year which we send off for testing.
‘Of these, less than 1,000 will need acting on and in most cases this will be re-labelling to include correct allergen levels, for example.’
Bottles pulled for testing are sent to laboratories in London and York where they are examined by the FSA and trading standard officers.
The typical signs they look for on a bottle of Prosecco to try and spot a potential fake is the labelling, foil and cage.
Giles Chapman, who is head of intelligence at the FSA’s National Food Crime Unit, added: ‘It is in the interests of food criminals to generate products which they feel will be easy to sell.
‘Prosecco is one area where consumer demand has flourished.’
But if you’re not a wine buff it may be harder to spot a fake bottle, says Adrian Smith, founder and chief drinker of Sypped.
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‘It can often be extremely difficult to tell a fake bottle from a real one if you’re not a big wine buff. 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.’
One way you can try and identify a fake if you are concerned about the bottle you’re buying is to look at where it was produced.
Bottles of Italian wine are labelled with DOC and DOCG classifications.