Since the turn of the new year, the wine industry has turned its attention to the well-priced and popular fizz Prosecco, and in particular a row that is ‘bubbling’ between the producers of the wine in its native Italy and those that who are selling it here in the UK. Producers are unhappy that the wine is being sold on tap in the UK’s on-trade.
A problem of definition
The problem relates to the definition of the wine – the wine that is sold in barrel and served via a tap is the same as bottled Prosecco, but according to legislation there must be a clear distinction between the two in terms of how they must be labelled and presented to the consumer. There are strict EU laws dictating how sparkling wines must be sold, and producers are angered that these are being ignored by those serving the wine on tap. By definition, the wine they are selling cannot be called Prosecco, because Prosecco must come from a bottle.
The world’s bestselling fizz
It’s an interesting argument and has generated much discussion. Ultimately the producers are keen to protect the identity of their brand, which has overtaken Champagne in the last 12 months to become the world’s favorite sparkling wine. The problem is that purveyors of the product don’t value the distinction, and even on close inspection it seems like a rather unnecessary piece of legislation. Sparkling wine by the glass is very popular in the on-trade, and it is much easier for staff to administer from a barrel and a tap than to deal with tricky corks behind a busy bar.
Consumers don’t care
The main problem for the producers though is that ultimately consumers don’t particularly care about the distinction as long as quality remains unaffected. The name ‘Prosecco’ has become a stamp of quality, but also of value for money – that’s what has driven its popularity. Adding convenience to the mix will only enhance sales further.
A gap in the market
Robert Joseph’s take on the argument is a sensible one (read the full article here) – he identifies that sparkling wine on tap represents a serious gap in the market that is up for grabs. Perhaps the producers ought to be addressing this rather than grappling with the EU legislation. The early adopters that can exploit the popularity of fizz on tap by attaching it to their own brand will ultimately have a very popular global product on their hands.