Do you like your bubbly fresh, fruity and affordable? Cue Prosecco, the Italian fizz that has taken the nation by storm in recent years. Fun, easy to sip and versatile, Prosecco is the ideal sparkler to please a crowd.. No doubt you’ve enjoyed a glass or two, but how much do you really know about this most approachable Italian sparkling wine.
What is Prosecco?
Prosecco is a white sparkling wine from the north east corner of Italy. It is made from the Glera grape, although up to 15% of other varieties can be added to the blend.
How is Prosecco made?
Prosecco is made using the tank method. Here the base wine is added to a large tank and topped up with a sugar and yeast mixture, which kicks off a second fermentation. Carbon dioxide is released as a by-product and, as it has nowhere to go, this pressurises the tank and makes the wine fizzy.
Unlike other methods, after filtering and bottling, the wine is not typically aged. Consequently, tank method sparkling wines are fresher in style and lighter in body than traditional method fizz.
What does Prosecco taste like?
When making Champagne or Cava, the second fermentation takes place in the bottle and the wine also undergoes a period of maturation. This is what gives these traditional method sparkling wines their distinctive rich yeasty taste, with flavours of toast, biscuit or pastry.
The tank method used for Prosecco adds very little flavour, so the finished wine takes much of its character from the grapes. It is therefore very fresh and fruity, and doesn’t have the same toasty richness of say Champagne, for example.
Prosecco is all about being easy to appreciate and easy to enjoy. The common flavours are green apple, pear and citrus, sometimes with a hint of melon. Some of the richer styles, such as DOCG wines, might have a touch of honey or peach to them.
What is the difference between DOC and DOCG?
Tank method sparkling wine is often dismissed as being of lower quality than bottle-fermented wines, but this simply isn’t the case. The different methods produce very different styles of wine that are hard to compare. Tank-fermented wines, such as Prosecco, can in fact be of a very high quality.
The most common quality level is Prosecco DOC (Denominazione di origine controllata, which is largely equivalent to the French AOC classification). The DOC means that the wine must be made to a predetermined standard and must be produced in a specified region. Prosecco DOC can be made in a total of nine regions including Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia.
The highest classification in Italy is DOCG (Denominazione di origine controllata e garantita) which means the wine must adhere to stringent standards and be guaranteed by a government licensed panel before bottling.
Prosecco DOCG mainly comes from the hills between the villages of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, widely considered as producing the best Prosecco. By focusing on smaller areas of high quality grapes and using lower yields, producers can make wines with greater complexity and concentration.
What else do I need to know when buying Prosecco?
There are a few other terms that you may see on a Prosecco label that can help you choose the perfect wine.
Like Champagne, it comes in a range of sweetness levels ranging from Brut, which is the driest, to Extra Dry and Dry which is the sweetest. It’s quite confusing, so be careful not to buy Extra Dry thinking it will be drier than Brut. The most common sweetness level is Brut, which is dry to taste, followed by Extra Brut which is medium dry. At times, Prosecco can taste slightly sweeter than indicated on the label as a result of its pronounced fruity flavours and aromatic floral notes.
You may also see some Prosecco labelled Frizzante or Spumante - this refers to how sparkling the wine is. Frizzante is a semi sparkling style, making it smoother than Spumante, which is full of lively bubbles.
We’re used to a chilled glass of Prosecco on its own, but did you know that it also goes well with many different foods?
It really comes into its own when paired with canapés, especially Parma ham or Prosciutto, where the freshness cuts beautifully through the saltiness of the meat. Lighter, drier styles also match well with delicately flavoured Sushi and mild cheeses.
Richer, more complex styles, such as Prosecco DOCG, are great with seafood dishes, especially if there is an element of sweetness, like seared scallops or crab.
Sweeter styles, such as Dry Prosecco, are a great match for macarons, light sponge cakes and Panettone. You heard it here first - Prosecco is a great match for an afternoon tea!
Now you know that there’s more to Prosecco than meets the eye, which one are you going to try next? With Winebuyers, choose from hundreds of DOC and DOCG references today.
You should also mention the Prince of Prosecco: “di Cartizze” which is made from the very best grapes from one small hill, the hill of Cartizze in Valdobbiadene. Really worth looking out for!
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