Prosecco: Italian Style Bubbly

by Filippo Berio
prosecco2
If you’ve ever been to Italy, chances are you’ve had a glass of Prosecco...

Whether you simply popped into a corner café for a light aperitif or sat down at a traditional trattoria for dinner, this light, bubbly wine was most likely offered to you to whet your appetite.

While some confused tourists often mistake Prosecco for champagne, any wine loving Italian will tell you it is quite different from its French counterpart.

First and foremost Prosecco is 100% Italian, originating from a small town near Trieste in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of northeastern Italy. It is the most exported Italian wine around the world, and even surpassed champagne in 2014 for total number of bottles sold globally [source]. That is an impressive feat!

So why is Prosecco so special? Well for one, its airy bubbles and unique flavour profile make it a simple and refreshing wine suitable for all occasions.
Prosecco is made with Glera white grapes, formerly called prosecco grapes, which impart the fruity and flowery aromas it is famous for, such as: pear, apple, citrus, white peach, vanilla bean, white flower and honeysuckle. These crisp, sweet undertones are best paired with salty appetizers, cured Italian meats, summery “frutti di mare” pasta dishes or salads as well as fish entrees [source].

Prosecco is also less expensive than champagne (great news for wine lovers) thanks to lower labor costs and a speedier production process. Most Prosecco wines are obtained using the “charmat” or “tank method,” in which the secondary fermentation phase in executed in watertight tanks instead of individual bottles as used in the traditional champagne method. This process can take as little as 30 days or up to 6 months to complete and preserves the natural fruity aromas of the wine [source].

The result is a deliciously frothy, frizzy and weightless sparkling wine with a slightly lower alcohol content than champagne.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN YOU BUY

Buying Prosecco at a wine shop or supermarket can be confusing, so keep these three things in mind when choosing the right bottle for your particular palette:

Authenticity

To guarantee product authenticity, the Italian government introduced a system to regulate the production methods and origins of Prosecco, as well as other popular foods Made in Italy.

  • ­Prosecco DOC – Controlled Designation of Origin
    Produced in 9 Italian provinces between the Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia regions, these DOC wines are available in three types: spumante (sparkling), frizzante (semi-sparkling) and fermo (still).The most popular of these is the spumante variant [source].
  • ­Prosecco DOCG – Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin
    Also called Prosecco Superiore DOCG, these high quality wines can only be produced in Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, located in the Treviso province of the Veneto region.

Bottom line: if you don’t see DOC or DOCG on the label of the bottle, it’s probably not worth buying.

Types

Like champagne, Prosecco is available in three variations [source]:

  • ­Brut = up to 12 grams/litre of residual sugar (not converted into alcohol)
  • Extra dry =between 12-17 grams/litre of residual sugar
  • Dry = between 17-32 grams/litre of residual sugar

When deciding which variant is best, try to consider the foods you are serving with the Prosecco so as not to overdo it on the sugar.

Vintage
Prosecco does not ferment in bottles and will lose effervescence and flavour overtime, so remember to choose a young bottle and consume it within 1 to 3 years (depending on quality) for best taste.

POPULAR PROSECCO COCKTAILS

While Prosecco is delicious and refreshing on its own, it is also a great way to add a little fizz and fragrance to cocktails. Try these Italian favorites at home:

Bellini
Recipe adapted from International Bartenders Association “Contemporary Classics”

  • 10 cl Prosecco
  • 5 cl peach purée or juice

Pour peach puree into chilled glass and add sparkling prosecco. Stir gently.
Other variations include:

  • Puccini – made with fresh mandarin juice
  • Non-traditional mimosa – made with fresh orange juice
  • Rossini – made with fresh strawberry puree
  • Tintoretto – made with fresh pomegranate juice

Venetian Spritz
Recipe adapted from International Bartenders Association “New era drinks”

  • ­6 cl Prosecco
  • ­4 cl Aperol (can be substituted with other bitters such as Campari or Cynar)
  • ­Splash of Soda water

Pour Prosecco and Aperol in an old-fashioned glass filled with ice. Top with soda water and garnish with half an orange slice.

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