Prosecco is a delightful sparkling wine from Italy that can liven up any occasion. It’s easy to drink, has a fresh and fruity profile and is versatile enough to pair with any food, at any time, alone or in a cocktail. Bellini’s anyone?
The cheerful Prosecco is often referred to as “Italian champagne” but don’t be confused. Prosecco has a unique and enjoyable personality of its own. There are individual differences that set Italy’s quality quaff apart from France’s preferred sparkler.
Recent years have seen Prosecco become the best selling sparkling wine in the world, by volume. In the last 10 years this sparkling Italian’s production has eclipsed production of Champagne and the bubble of acclaim shows no sign of popping.
So what is this wine exactly and what’s driving the popularity of Prosecco? Let’s have a closer look, shall we?
What is Prosecco?
Prosecco is a white wine that falls under the Italian classification of DOC or DOCG, a denomination which serves to prove authenticity and legally protect the wine from a different version using the same name. The wine is produced in the Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia regions only. This is a large geographical area that spans nine provinces, one of them being Trieste where the village of Prosecco is located.
This white wine is made primarily from the Prosecco grape (which was renamed Glera in 2009) but the denomination organization allows up to 15% of the wine to be sourced from other approved varieties. Prosecco is almost always sparkling (spumante), or semi-sparkling (frizzante) although still wines (tranquillo) are also permitted, but rarely seen outside of northern Italy. Interestingly, in 2020 the DOC rules began permitting a rosé version of Prosecco. It’s made from Glera blended with 10%-15% approved Pinot noir. This rather new contender is called spumante rosé.
The most elegant of Proseccos (Prosecco Superiore DOCG) are produced in the Treviso area of Veneto. The vineyards from which the two highest quality Proseccos hail thrive high upon steep hills declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. All the tending of these grapes is done by hand, from pruning to picking.
Prosecco and Champagne
As with its French cousin, there are four different levels of sweetness to Prosecco. They are:
- Brut (the driest version)
- Extra Dry
- Demi-Sec (the sweetest version)
Unlike Prosecco French cousin, Champagne, the Italian sparkler gets its bubbles in a very different way. While Champagne gets its sparkle inside the bottle during the second fermentation, leading to a more complex and less fruit-forward profile, Prosecco’s second fermentation takes place in a stainless steel tank. That’s what gives Prosecco its fresh, young and fruitier style. This method, called the Charmat method, makes Prosecco easier and more cost-effective to produce, keeping this Italian treasure quite affordable.
The Flavor of Celebration in Italy
Many who enjoy Prosecco taste the crisp flavor of lemon and other citrus fruits, the green fruit flavor of pears and apples along with a medium to high acidity and a dry, or off-dry character. The sweetness varies among the four levels, as above. Brut Prosecco contains less than 12 grams of residual sugar, extra dry, 12 to 17 grams, cry Prosecco contains 17 to 32 grams and Demi-sec gets its much sweeter character from 32-50 grams of residual sugar.
Food and Wine
Given it’s fresh, clean profile Prosecco pairs wonderfully with just about any food. From a casual Sunday brunch to an elegant five course meal Prosecco is the charming dinner guest everyone loves to be around.
Brut and Extra Dry Prosecco are ideal for cleansing the palate between courses. The bubbles and medium to high acidity pair very well with saltier appetizers and boost an already trendy charcuterie board filled with assorted sweet and salty noshes to a whole new level.
Dry Prosecco and even Demi-Sec also level up the more flavorful and peppery dishes like Thai or a spicy pasta. And who doesn’t love a sparkling, refreshing glass of Prosecco with sushi. So clean and so fresh!
Pop open a bottle of this Italian bubbly the next time you celebrate life’s most exciting events. Or pour yourself a glass on a Tuesday evening and offer a hearty salute to your good health. Any time is a good time for a glass of this Italian delight!