Daniel Spinath, director of sparkling wine supplier Frizzenti, has hit back at claims that selling Prosecco on tap will be “illegal” if Italian producers of the wine win the legal right to fine bars and pubs that sell the drink by the keg instead of bottles.

Following reports that Italian producers of Prosecco are attacking British pubs and bars Spinath has told M&C Report that it is not illegal to sell the sparkling wine on tap however calling it Prosecco is against a European law passed in 2009 that dictates what can be labelled and sold as Prosecco.

As more and more wineries started to produce sparkling wines Prosecco became a generic name for any Italian sparkling wine so the law was put in place to ensure Prosecco is protected.

“The authorities, very rightly, in 2009 decided to put a rule in place much like what happened within the Champagne region,” said Spinath.

Under the ruling a sparkling wine can only be called Prosecco if it comes from a restricted region in the north-west of Italy; is made using glera prosecco grapes in specific tanks and crucially it must be sold in glass bottles.

“I don’t think the producers can actually sue bar owners. We had a visit from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) that they had been alerted by the Italian authorities that some of our clients may be using the name Prosecco for wine on tap. I’m sure the worst that can happen is the Italians will alert the FSA who will say you are not allowed to use the name Prosecco for wine on tap.”

Spinath said: “The producers want to be able to control the origin of the wine so they don’t want it to be sold in anything but a glass bottle.

“We knew about these rules before 2009 and we fully support it because it means the quality of the wine will be preserved. We buy Prosecco from the regions, which we sell in bottles and we also sell the same product in kegs on tap but from 2009 that same liquid could not be called Prosecco.”

Frizzenti sells its on-tap sparkling wine drink as Vino Frizzante and the same liquid in a bottle as Frizzenti’s Prosecco DOP.

“Wine on keg has become more and more popular and many trade and bar owners are disregarding the 2009 law and continuing to call it Prosecco,” Spinath added. “It is not illegal to sell Italian sparkling wines in kegs on tap – it’s a natural way to do it because the fermentation process takes place in vats. But the point the Italians are making is it’s much more difficult to track the origin of a product in a keg than in a bottle. They want to be able to control the origin of the product and in a bottle that’s a lot easier than in a keg.”

“The Italians are a victim of their own success and they have created this problem for themselves. Prosecco has become the generic word to talk about sparkling wine which is not a bad thing for the producers or for the industry.”

The only thing the Italians should be more transparent about not being able to label it.

“Nowhere in our (Frizzenti’s) communications do we say ‘Prosecco on tap’. In a keg we call it Frizzante not Prosecco. We are responsible in communicating this because we stand by our product but it’s not possible to censor what other people say. We are not condemning people who do that – it’s up to them  - it’s up to responsible trade to do what they want to.

“There’s a difference between the quality of sparkling wines on the market and the producers have put this in place to protect their product. The industry should – and we would fully support – educate people about what is good wine and what will hurt is unqualified rumors.”

“We support the Italians however it’s all been blown up – it’s a bit of a storm in a wine glass.”