Italian producers toast record prosecco sales worldwide

Demand is soaring for Italian bubbles, with most bottles of fizz going to the UK and US.

Italian producers toast record prosecco sales worldwide
Sparkling wine. Photo: Depositphotos

This Christmas and New Year there will be a record number of toasts made with Italian spumante, or sparkling wines, as they become an “essential” party season purchase around the world, said Italian agricultural association Coldiretti.

The value of Italy's sparkling wine exports has jumped by 13 percent this year according to analysis by Coldiretti based on Istat’s export figures.

Figures show record sparkling wine sales abroad for 2018, valued at over 1.5 billion.

Demand for Italian bubbles is higher than ever before, Coldiretti says, with some 70 percent of the Italy’s sparkling wine production now being exported.

Figures show some 500 million bottles were exported this year; the country produced about 700 million bottles in total.

More Italian sparkling wine is now sold abroad than French champagne, the figures say; though with prices on average significantly higher, champagne still comes out way ahead in export value.

Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

Coldiretti named the most popular Italian sparkling wines abroad as Prosecco, Asti and Franciacorta.

The biggest fans of Italian sparkling wines are the British, who don’t seem to have been put off their drinks by Brexit. The UK ranks as the biggest market for Italian sparkling wines with a five percent increase in sales in 2018.

The United States is in second place with a huge 13 percent jump in sales, while Germany is in third place, with an increase of six percent.

But Coldiretti points out that Italian sparkling wine is also very popular in Russia, with a 21 percent increase in sales despite trade difficulties caused by the continuing embargo on a number of of Italian-made products.

And a double-digit increase is also seen in Japan, with an 18 percent rise in the number of bottles of sparkling wine sold.

However, Coldiretti points out that as sales of genuine “Made in Italy” sparkling wines increase, so does the simultaneous growth of imitations.

Sparkling wine “pirates” are cashing in on the Made in Italy brand on all continents, especially in Europe, with drinks that have no real connection to Italy.

Brands like Kressecco or Meer-Secco produced in Germany clearly reference Italian prosecco, while Coldiretti says that prosecco, or something being sold as prosecco, is available on tap in British pubs – despite regulations stating that it must be sold from bottles only.

However Italy's winemakers fear that a predicted Prosecco price hike after Brexit could see its sales plummet dramatically in the UK.



‘Symbol of youth’: Italy’s iconic Vespa scooter marks 75th birthday

Ever since Audrey Hepburn took control of her Vespa in the 1953 classic "Roman Holiday", the Italian scooter has been a symbol of joy and style and on its 75th birthday, many Italians remain fondly attached to theirs.

'Symbol of youth': Italy's iconic Vespa scooter marks 75th birthday
Vespa scooters are pictured on August 11, 2019 in Cervinia, Italian Alps. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

“I’ve had a Vespa for 12 years, I’m on my third,” said Marco Guerrieri, a Roman accountant in his 40s.

“I wanted a more original two-wheeler than the Japanese scooters, plus it’s made of metal and not plastic, it’s much more resistent,” he told AFP.

While it is mostly a practical mode of transportation for him, he laments that for many “it’s a status symbol – in my neighbourhood all the successful people have a Vespa”.

READ ALSO: The history behind Italy’s famous Vespa scooter

Hepburn and Gregory Peck’s adventures in Rome made the Vespa famous in the 1950s, but its history dates back to April 23, 1946, when the first patent for its manufacture was registered in Italy.

Legend has it that the name, which means “wasp” in Italian, came from Enrico Piaggio, founder of the eponymous motor company, who compared the noise
of its engine to the insect’s buzz.

File photo: Alberto Lingri/AFP

Seventy-five years and 19 million units later, Vespas have lost none of their charm, despite the problems of driving them in Rome, with their small wheels unsuited to potholes and slippery cobblestones.

“These are 19 million stories of guys and girls, entire generations who dreamed of and gained their freedom astride a Vespa,” enthused a statement from Piaggio marking Friday’s anniversary.

Since 1946, the Vespa has been made at Pontedera, in Tuscany, although in recent years also in a factory in India and another in Vietnam.