Italy produces a great range of sparkling wines, and Prosecco is by far the most popular in this category. Much more than just ‘Italy’s answer to Champagne’, Prosecco boasts a history going back centuries, as well as its own stringently controlled production techniques. The method used to make it sparkling is different from its French counterpart, in fact Prosecco’s rapid second fermentation takes place in a large tank, enabling tight control over desired pressure levels – and the resulting ‘bubbliness’ – via prompt and efficient cooling once ready. The only exception to this is the ‘Col Fondo’ version: try an excellent example of this method with Ca’ dei Zago winery. These are bottle-fermented and therefore slightly cloudy, due to the presence of the lees, resulting in a gentle, more natural effervescence. Strictly speaking, Prosecco generically can be anywhere on a spectrum from highly effervescent to completely still (although very rare). The vast majority is spumante (sparkling) or frizzante (semi- or lightly sparkling), with only a small proportion being tranquillo, or still.
So where is Prosecco produced? In order to be called Prosecco and receive the DOC seal of quality, this wine originally had to be produced in the Veneto region, although in 2008 its production extended into the neighbouring Friuli-Venezia region, in response to high international demand. The more prestigious DOCG label, though, is reserved for Prosecco produced exclusively in and around Asolo and Conegliano-Valdobbiadene. This latter appellation includes Prosecco Superiore DOCG, Superiore Rive DOCG and Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze DOCG – which you can find here in Tannico’s selection of course.
What is Prosecco made from? Prosecco used to be the name of the grape, the particular delicate-skinned green variety used to make it, until 2009 when this was renamed into Glera as part of a winegrower movement to obtain legal protection for the popular sparkling wine. A true Prosecco must contain at least 85% Glera, and many are produced exclusively from this grape variety. More recently, the DOC seal of approval was given to rosé Prosecco, and its delicate colouration is due to the inclusion of 10-15% Pinot Noir in the blend with Glera.
What is Prosecco like on the palate? In terms of sweetness, take your pick – from Brut, Extra Dry, Dry and Demi-sec. Crisp and lightly aromatic as a general rule of thumb, Prosecco offers a dazzling array of tasting notes: pear, yellow apple, white stone fruit and even honeysuckle or hazelnut. Our Borgoluce Prosecco Superiore presents exotic fruits and wildflowers in addition to the more familiar yellow apple notes for example, whilst the Superiore di Cartizze from the Andreola winery introduces more mineral elements alongside its base of apple and pear. Mionetto’s Treviso Frizzante Prosecco showcases sublime acacia, wisteria and honey notes.
Being a highly eclectic sparkling wine, there is a Prosecco for every occasion, from easy-drinking party-friendly bottles, to more refined and sophisticated wines, better suited to fine dining and more intimate celebrations. It’s also a key ingredient in popular brunch or aperitif cocktails, such as Mimosa, Buck’s fizz, Bellini or the incredibly popular Spritz. Drier styles of Prosecco pair well with seafood and seafood-based pasta dishes, but they are equally a good match for a platter of cold cuts and savoury cheeses or canapés. Sweeter styles are best reserved for the dessert course, or served with cake at a celebration any time of day. Enjoy.