Articles in the Daily Mail and the Guardian claiming the vital Italian export is the cause of 'prosecco smile' and damage to teeth has seen key political figures in Italy rally to the carbonized drink's aid.
“It's definitely fake news, so let's just leave it there,” said Luca Zaia, president of the Veneto Region, said in a reply to the article on social media.
“However, our British friends know very well that where there is Prosecco there is a smile, so good that they celebrate it, and consume it more every day,” added Zaia, whose region is a large producer of the fizzy wine.
Zaia, a controversial figure in Italy, called it the “umpteenth Anglo Saxon crusade against Italian products.”
“It is acidic and it has sugar in it so… if you drink too much of it you are going to have a problem,” Dr Mervyn Druian, of the London Centre for Cosmetic Dentistry, had told The Daily Mail to spark the initial controversy.
“It exacts a price later, when the carbonation, alcohol and sugar – dentistry’s axis of evil – destroy your teeth, variously stripping their enamel, making holes in them and pulling them out of your gums,” wrote Zoe Williams in a follow-up piece in the Guardian, noting that Brits drank 40 million litres of the Italian sparkling wine in 2016.
The Guardian's tongue-in-cheek piece puts forward six other reasons why not to drink prosecco, which besides its fluctuating price (“alcohol delivery system”) , is apparently now the drink of stag parties, terrible hangovers and best-avoided River Island t-shirts.
Italians aren't convinced however and are attributing the newfound British distaste for prosecco to a sort-of Brexit blues.
“I believe that after Brexit in Great Britain there is a need to help citizens to return to smiling: taken in moderate doses, our prosecco can do miracles,” quipped Debora Serracchiani, president of the Friuli Venezia Giulia province, home to the village of Prosecco, from where the wine takes its name.
Italy's minister of agriculture, Maurizio Martina, fought back against the slander of northeast Italy's sparkling wine on twitter.
Dear @guardian, tell the truth: Prosecco makes British people smile too! ? Stop fake news please
— Maurizio Martina (@maumartina) August 30, 2017
The prosecco bashing comes days after Italian agricultural union Coldiretti announced Italy was set for one of the smallest post-war wine harvests ever, even if exports are set to reach record highs.
The debate over prosecco's virtues follows an intense time in the spotlight for the Italian drink.
Italian wines in general are undergoing a difficult period in their relations with the UK. Producers and stakeholders alike have expressed fears regarding how Brexit could affect Italy's wine industry.
On the other hand, earlier this year the Friuli region announced it was lobbying UNESCO to award World Heritage status to its Prosecco Superiore hills.