Prosecco, Prosekar, Let's Call The Whole Thing Off

Same old, same old: Italian and Croatian winemakers are fighting over etymologically similar wine terms.

Ah, hell, the kids are fightin' about dessert wines again. The Associated Press reports that the makers of Prosecco, Italy's standout sparkling wine, are working to prevent Croatian winemakers from marketing a different wine under the name Prosekar. This is a phonetically confusing situation, but I will do my best to explain.

The AP reports that Prosecco is included in a group of "protected products with distinct geographic roots" (think Parmigiano Reggiano cheese or Champagne). Now, Croatian winemakers are allegedly jeopardizing that designation with an effort to label a niche dessert wine under a traditional, starkly similar name: Prosekar.

Prosekar refers to a Croatian dessert wine which shares etymological roots with Prosecco. While Italy's officially designated Prosecco makers put out more than 550 million bottles a year, Prosekar is "virtually unknown beyond the Italian port city of Trieste where it's made on a strip of land between the Adriatic Sea and Slovenia." The AP reports that there are currently fewer than a dozen Prosekar micro-producers, as the beverage has been primarily "produced at home and shared among friends, family and neighbors." Perhaps most importantly, where Prosecco is a sparkling wine, Prosekar is a dessert wine. Got it?

Now, Croatian Prosekar makers want to expand the market for their beverage; unfortunately, to do so, they'll have to defeat Big Prosecco. "The problem for us is not that these producers, who make a very small number of bottles, enter our market. But it is the confusion it could generate among consumers," Luca Giavi, general director of the Prosecco DOC consortium, told the AP.

Meanwhile, Prosekar advocates argue that the centuries-old dessert wine tradition is distinct enough from Prosecco to avoid confusion. "Consumers will not be confused by this," Ladislav Ilcic, a Croatian member of the European Parliament, said in a recent debate. "Prosek should legitimately receive the protected denomination of origin, and producers should have full access to markets."

It's easy to see why both sides are frustrated. Seems like they might need a neutral party to fly in, tour a series of stunning wineries, and chug several liters of each product in order to make the final determination. I'm willing to bear this burden.