Croatian Prošek vs. Italy’s Prosecco
Wine is essential and powerful: weddings, business deals, alliances, and agreements are all often made over a glass or two of wine. But one Croatian wine has earned a place in international media headlines by almost making a political and diplomatic scandal! Regarding Croatian Prošek and Italy’s Prosecco, one might think they are similar due to their similar-sounding names. However, the two are quite distinct, and their differences and unique qualities are worth exploring.
The controversy around Prošek and Prosecco
In the spring of 2013, just a couple of weeks before the long-awaited official reception of Croatia to the European Union, news broke that once Croatia became an EU member, Croatian winemakers would be forbidden to make, advertise, or sell Prošek, a traditional Croatian sweet wine.
The ban was allegedly called for by the consortium of Italian makers of Prosecco to protect their wine, which is registered and protected within EU trademark laws.
The two wines’ names were declared too similar, and it was claimed that Prošek might mislead and confuse customers.
Since Prosecco’s name and origin were already protected by EU laws, it was asserted that Prošek should be renamed.
It is an understatement to say that the Croatian public, especially winemakers, were shocked. Anyone who has ever tasted Prošek would be sympathetic to the surprise because the two wines are entirely different in almost every way.
The only thing they have in common is a similarity in name.
Is Italian Prosecco wine similar to Croatian Prošek?
No, they represent entirely different wine styles and have different production methods. We all adore Prosecco, but we should drink a lot more of it to confuse one with the other.
Prošek is a traditional Croatian sweet wine made from dried grapes, considered medicine in ancient days.
Here are the key differences:
- Prosecco is an easy-drinking sparkling wine;
- grapes for Prosecco generally have low sugar and alcohol content and high acidity;
- the wine is produced in the Charmat or Italian Charmat method, developed by Martinotti (the second fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks);
- Prosecco is a light, bubbly wine with up to 12% alcohol content in most cases, light in color with subtle citrus and fresh apple aromas;
- Prosecco is almost exclusively produced from a variety called Glera.
- Prošek is a sweet dessert wine, high in alcohol and rich in dried fruits, sweet and nutty aromas;
- Prošek’s color is deep gold, amber, or dark red in color;
- Prošek is a thick and syrupy still wine;
- Prošek is made using dried wine grapes;
- grapes for Prošek are dried in the sun on straw mats or dried on the vine;
- the must (the freshly-pressed grape juice) is then macerated for a couple of days and then pressed to separate the juice from the skins, which then ferments for more than a year and is left to age for a minimum of one more year in oak barrels),
- it takes approximately 1 kilogram of dried grapes to make 0,75 liters of Prošek;
- Prošek is made from red or white grape varieties typical for the Dalmatian wine region, such as native Bogdanuša, Maraština, Grk, Plavac Mali, or Babić;
- the technique of making Prošek dates to pre-Roman times, makes it obvious it was never intended to imitate Prosecco.
What is Prošek wine?
Prošek is a sweet dessert wine made from red and/or white dried grapes. It has a long history in Croatia, where it has been produced for centuries and is an important part of its cultural heritage.
Prošek is made using traditional methods, with the grapes being dried on straw mats or, ideally, naturally dried on the vine. The wine is then aged in oak barrels before being bottled.
Prošek tasting notes
Depending on variety and production method, Prošek has a rich, golden color and a complex flavor that is both sweet and acidic. It is often described as having creamy caramel, dark chocolate, jammy notes of dried fruits, citruses, Dalmatian spices, and sweet barrique notes with almond and walnut aftertaste.
The taste is complex, with delicate tannins and integrated freshness.
Prošek wine food pairing
It perfectly complements any dessert and pairs wonderfully with dry fruit, nuts, and cheese. Prošek in Croatia is typically enjoyed as an after-dinner drink.
Notable producers of Croatian Prošek
Dalmatian winemakers have produced Prošek from ancient times, and these wineries produce some of the best:
While Prošek and Prosecco are both wines, they differ in taste, production methods, and cultural significance.
Prošek is deeply rooted in Croatian culture and integral to the country’s winemaking heritage. In contrast, Prosecco is a popular sparkling wine that gained global recognition.
In terms of production, Prošek is made using traditional methods, which can be time-consuming and labor-intensive. Conversely, Prosecco is produced using modern techniques for greater efficiency and consistency.
Prošek and Prosecco have unique qualities and are worth trying for wine lovers who enjoy exploring different wines.
Whether you prefer Prošek’s rich sweetness or Prosecco’s crisp freshness, both wines offer a unique and enjoyable experience.
The similar-sounding name IS the only thing the two wines have in common.
To be sure you never confuse Prošek with Prosecco, remember that the Croatian dessert wine is pronounced as ‘pro-shek’ while the Italian sparkling wine is pronounced ‘proh-sec-coh.’
Besides the differences in production and wine style, remember that a bottle of Prošek is a kind of family pride and heritage in the Dalmatia region, where it’s most widely produced.
Recipes are passed down from generation to generation, and even commercial producers are small, family-owned wineries.
Prošek is served on special occasions such as celebrations, birthdays, holidays, or anniversaries, and a small, half-liter bottle of Prošek is considered an excellent gift for such an occasion.
A lot of tradition is built around this bottle of precious liquid! Parents put aside a bottle of Prošek from the vintage in which their child was born, often burying it in the ground to be opened on a child’s graduation or wedding day.
Prošek is also traditionally considered a universal remedy for discomfort or disease. A sip of it was sometimes even prescribed to young mothers, as it is believed to build strength after giving birth.
And what about the diplomatic scandal? It turns the saga and the controversy continues…
Our team handpicked the best Croatian Prošek, so don’t miss the chance to experience the luxurious taste of these traditional dessert wines!