Croatian Prosek vs Italian Prosecco

What is in a name?  Apparently it is everything according to the EU wine police.  Croatia has been informed they cannot use the name ‘Porsek’ as it is similar to the Italian word ‘Prosecco’.   The EU feels the words are far too much alike and many people will confuse the two.  And this would mean that rather than a white sparkling wine they are served a dark amber dessert wine and horrors, the difference would be mind-boggling.

Prosecco is an Italian sparkling white wine, often compared closely to the Asti Spumanti.  It is served chilled and the bubbles disappear immediately upon being poured into a glass. I only learned today it has now replaced the use of Champagne when making a Bellini, one of my fondest memories of Venice.  It does make me feel so good that I have never been served the lesser expensive version of my beloved Bellini and I do expect I will continue to use Champagne rather than change.  The Bellini is my very favorite drink, so why change perfection. 

According to my research the name Prosecco has only been around for the last century. It is produced using the Charmat method in which a secondary fermentation happens in stainless steel tanks, thus making it less expensive to produce.   Unlike other wines Prosecco does not age well and should be consumed within three years.  Check your labels; you would not want to offend the wine police and keep a bottle over the given period.

Prosecco Wine

Prosecco Wine

Prosek pronounced ‘Pro-shek’ is a sweet dessert wine which is produced primarily in Southern Dalmatian. It is made from the vine dried grapes and normally an average of seven times the amount is used for one bottle of Prosek.  The Emperor Diocletian made references to the Dalmatian Prosek as early as 303 AD.  The tradition of prošek is embedded in Croatian culture, with an ancient tradition of producing the sweet beverage on the occasion of the birth of a child, and then putting the bottles to one side to be opened on the child’s wedding day.

Vine dried grapes

Vine dried grapes

Do you wonder if there is a wine police and how to apply for the position?  Do they drive around in their own automobiles, tasting wine or just checking names?  Would it not be much safer if they were driven so tasting would become part of the job description?  I mean after all, one cannot be part of the wine police if they do not taste the product.  Would the cars be unmarked or perhaps a bottle of wine bottle on the side panel, just to make sure that their intent is known from the beginning of arrival at your small family home.  Should they also have the ability to speak several languages?  I mean how you decide if a wine name is too similar to another without being fluent in many languages.  It has been suggested that Croatian change the name to Vino Dalmatio as a replacement.  Why then does Italy not consider using Vino Italiano as a replacement? 

Croatian Posek

Croatian Prosek

Personally I know that there are no similarities between the two products, either with the grapes or production methods.  And furthermore there is no relation between the origins of the names.  The fact that Croatia is the new kid on the block (EU block), we have no chance of our product being allowed to remain on the open market.  However the Croatian word ‘Prosek’ is ours and we will NEVER relinquish it or the bottle hidden in the cellar for our children.

13 thoughts on “Croatian Prosek vs Italian Prosecco

  1. I’ve always wondered why we don’t use the place names that the residents use? Why does English change a place name?…on the wine side, we visited a small winery on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State years ago. Started by 3 women years ago, it was of course named for its location. When the 2010 Winter Olympics were not that far away in Vancouver, British Columia, the Olympic Committee informed the winery owners they would have to change their name. We are proud to report that the winery si STILL the Olympic Winery. Score one for the small people!

    • Good for the ladies, there was no need to change the name of their winery. This seems to be getting more and more ridiculous.

  2. I loved the Croatian wine when we were there. Every time I go to a new wine store, here in the U.S., I ask if they carry Croatian (or Slovenian) wine and they never do! It’s so frustrating!

    • There are a few stores in NYC which sell Croatian wine. Hopefully this will become more frequent in the near future.

  3. The Italians have been longer in the EU so they know how to get around better than Croats, but Croats I think didn’t fight hard enough to stop Italians take the name and concept of Proshek wine as theirs, thus stopping Croatia entering EU & wider with a wine called Proshek because Italy has Prosecco. While the name many not be important it’s the idea or proshek or prosecco or the taste of it that’s important. So I hope Croatia doesn’t just sit back and allow Italy to live forever with the delusion that Prosecco is their’s – Croatia should continue fighting in the courts or tribunals or what have you

    • Unfortunately Croatia will sit back and do nothing about the loss of their ancient wine. The attitude here makes me sad as I keep trying to tell people their vote counts or why do you accept this or that? It is always the same, ‘There’s nothing we can do so we do not bother.’ What happened to the Croatians who stood tall and fought a war for independance? They got what they elected and don’t even bother to complain about the politicians any longer. I have been told by many that it will take 3 generations before changes will be made here, so sad indeed!

  4. Thank you for clarifying this. When we were in Dubrovnik April 15, we went to the Buza Bar #2 and two of our party of four ordered Prosek, thinking it was Prosecco. Well, we were delightfully surprised by this wonderful sweet wine that reminded us of a cream sherry or a port. And yes, I would like to apply for the job of wine policewoman. I think I would be very good at this. I would need a driver, though, especially at the end of the day.

    • Linda & Nancy:
      It was your email which inspired me to write this post. I am still looking for the application for the wine police position, I would love to have that job. Wonder if they will offer health benefits or incentives?

  5. Here we go again (yes I am a bit angry even all the way down here -:))! Jolly Italians, always doing the same thing on our cost! Prosek is Croatian and your research is correct to the letter. I have also lived in Italy and am well familiar with Prosecco – it is not similar to Prosek at all! The so called similarity in names most likely has its roots (like many other words used in Dalmatia) in the fact that Italians occupied Dalamtian coast for a long time and tried their very best to Italianize it too (did you read Aralica?), especially by spreading Italian language (Austro-Hungarians did the same up north). But here we go … Croatians will do nothing to keep Prosek all in misguided believe that their ‘obedience’ will pave them way to EU …. Keep the Prosek by all means!


  6. I am Italian and I love Prosecco. Never tried the dalmatian Prosek, I will give it a try to see what is like. I think it’s all to do with the EU and protection of regional and local products and names. As Ina said, Italy has been in the EU longer so it might have a better case for protecting this name/product rather than the Croatian one. Like parmigiano, mozzarella, gorgonzola.
    Or camembert and champagne in France. I think there is are a lot of delicious and wonderful local products in each country, it’s a shame that someone in the EU tells us what to do.
    I think Croatia will have a fight on its hands (if it decides to take it on…)

  7. Interesting background information, Carol. We heard about these potential squabbles brewing while touring Croatia earlier this year. With recent EU accession, have you noticed many many changes yet?

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