Slow Food Blog by Shane Holland: Checking labels for quality

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The Staff Canteen

Editor 4th April 2016
Labels Matter. Again. It is only a short number of years ago that the practice of importing cheap Bacon from overseas, then cutting and packaging it as a premium “British” product was forced to cease; yet many of us in the on-trade can unwittingly still be purchasing goods which appear to bear the stamp of quality, but may not be what they appear. slow foodA good example of this is Prosecco, where in the space of a decade sales have gone from almost nothing to a staggering 37.3 million litres in 2014. Like all agricultural products from a given area, the land area is finite. Prior to 2009 Prosecco was the name of the grape, not a geographical area, so it couldn’t be protected in the same way as say Champagne. So in effort to improve quality the grape was renamed “glera”, however at the same time a much larger area was turned over to the DOC, now called Prosecco, stretching almost to Slovenia. The former DOC area, the hills in north west Veneto, became the new DOCG. Does any of this matter? In a word, yes. Because wines that are produced in a larger area will naturally have a different character, and equally the fabric of our landscape is bound up in the traditions of what is grown there. Expand the production of Prosecco to meet the seemingly insatiable demand, and something else by definition must be produced in lesser quantity. This is where labelling is so important, wines such as the exceptional Prosecco produced by the family owned Villa Sandi, bear the label DOC Treviso which guarantees the original expression of the wine; but also that it’s produced in the area; something that the Moretti Polegato family have been doing for generations. It’s also a guarantee that grapes haven’t been grown in the DOC area, only for the them to be crushed and the must then sent by tanker to Piedmont, and yes Bacardi Martini, I do mean you. So the next time you are thinking of changing your wine list, look for the DOCG or DOC Treviso label, and consider buying from a company which considers itself a custodian of Prosecco, rather than one that is selling solely on case deals. Your customers will thank you for it. Shane Holland is Executive Chairman of Slow Food in the UK. Slow Food campaigns to protect our culinary and agricultural heritage.  

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 4th April 2016

Slow Food Blog by Shane Holland: Checking labels for quality