What is Prosecco?
What kind of wine is Prosecco?
Prosecco is a type of sparkling wine produced in Italy, whose method of production and origin are strictly regulated and controlled. Prosecco must be Italian, and obey to certain quality standards. But Prosecco is not any Italian sparkling wine. It may in fact will be the most popular style of bubbly in the world, or at least the wine with the fastest growing demand worldwide. For more on this, read the ‘how popular is Prosecco?’ section further down below.
Where does Prosecco wine come from?
Italy’s most famous sparkling wine, Prosecco, comes from vineyards in a beautiful valley of the Veneto wine region, just north of the city of Venice. The Prosecco vineyards stretch in a large area around the towns of Valdobbiadene, Treviso, and Conegliano. Prosecco is even made in the Trieste area of the Friuli Venezia Giulia region in the very far North-East end of Italy.
What grape variety is Prosecco made from?
Prosecco sparkling wines are made predominantly from the Italian white grape variety called Glera.
Glera must account for a minimum of 85% in the final blend of any Prosecco wine. Other grapes that can be used up to a 15%-proportion include local varieties such as Bianchetta Trevigiana, Verdiso, or Perera, as well as more international grapes, often of French origin like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris. Until relatively recently, the name Prosecco was in fact the name of the grape variety used to make these wines in Italy. But since 2009, the name Prosecco was protected against international appropriation, and regulated under the Italian DOC appellation laws to ensure only wines coming from the specified areas of north-eastern Italy could use the name on labels. The Prosecco grape was then officially called Glera.
Is Prosecco sweet or dry?
Prosecco wines exist both in dry and sweet styles, depending on their sweetness level or the amount of residual sugars (RS, in grams per litre), which is given on the label as per the following categories:
Prosecco Brut: 0-12 g/l RS – Dry Style
Prosecco Extra-Dry: 12-17 g/l RS – Off-Dry Style
Prosecco Dry: 17-32 g/l RS – Sweetest Style
Are there different styles of Prosecco wines?
Indeed, beyond the varied sweetness levels detailed above, Prosecco also come in different levels of fizziness:
Prosecco spumante is the most common style, the one most of us find at the store and enjoy, with around 3 atmospheres of pressure in the bottle (44psi, to compare with beer which has approximately 1.5 atmospheres of pressure, and a traditional Champagne’s 6 atmospheres or about 100psi).
Prosecco frizzante is less sparkling, or semi-sparkling, just slightly fizzy and has less than 2.5 atmospheres of pressure (<36psi).
Is spumante sweet or dry?
Spumante simply means that you are drinking a sparkling wine, as spumante is the Italian term for bubbly". If you have a “Spumante Brut”, it will be sparkling AND dry, while if it’s a “Spumante Dry”, it will be sweet. See details of the sweetness levels above.
Finding High-Quality Prosecco?
Prosecco wines are classified in Italy according to their geographical origin, which can also often translate into a quality level as per the hierarchy below:
Prosecco DOC: is the most common appellation for Prosecco, the one that’s most produced, and the one you will most usually find on your average wine shop’s shelves. It can be made in 9 provinces stretching from Veneto to Friuli-Venezia Giulia regions;
Prosecco Conegliano Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG: must be made from grapes from a small specific area on the hillsides between Valdobbiadene and Conegliano, known for producing some of the best Prosecco wines;
Prosecco Conegliano Valdobbiadene Superiore Rive DOCG: is an even more precise area within the Conegliano-Valdobbiadene zone just detailed above. Only wines made from vineyards around 43 towns (communes) can boast this “Superior Prosecco” title;
Prosecco Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze DOCG: is an even more specific “superiore” vineyard area, found West of the town of Valdobbiadene and covering only 107 hectares (264 acres) on the finest terroirs for Prosecco;
Prosecco Colli Asolani DOCG: the hills between the towns of Cornuda and Asolo (Asolani meaning “from Asolo”), just across the river from the ones around Conegliano, also host vineyards and soils particularly recognised for the quality of their Prosecco wines.
An alternative to the origin and quality level classifications as detailed above, is to look for a producer of quality Prosecco wine. Going for an organic Prosecco can be a way of targeting wineries that pay a particular attention to their impact on the environment, but also arguably to the quality of their wine production.
Because organic grapes are more exposed to the natural environment, it seems their skin becomes thicker as a natural protective defence. Because the grape’s skin is where most of a Prosecco wine’s body and aroma comes from, this thicker organically-grown skin makes for more balanced, fruity and persistent Proseccos. Like, for example, our Proseccos Conegliano Prosecco Superiore DOCG extra dry "Ariò" 2018 and Conegliano Prosecco Superiore DOCG brut "Matiù" 2018, both from L’Antica Quercia.
Is Prosecco the same as Champagne?
Champagne wine comes from the French Champagne region around Reims and Epernay, South-East of Paris, while Prosecco bubblies are exclusively from Italy. What changes is also the production method, Champagne is produced using the Méthode Traditionnelle with a bottle fermentation, while Prosecco is produced using the Charmat Method of a secondary fermentation in tank.
What is the difference between Asti Spumante and Prosecco?
Both Asti Spumante and Prosecco are Italian sparkling white wines made in the North of Italy, but Asti comes from the western Piedmont region while Prosecco is made in the eastern regions of Veneto and Friuli. Furthermore, Asti Spumante is made from very fragrant and fruity Muscat grapes (Moscato Bianco) while Proseccos are made from the more restrained and floral Glera. Asti bubblies tend to be sweeter and lower in alcohol (below 10% abv) while Proseccos are generally crisp and dry, or just off-dry, with an alcoholic strength around 11%. Very different wines overall, although both are made using the Charmat method of a secondary fermentation in tank, as opposed to a bottle fermentation like Champagne.
What are the typical flavors found in Prosecco?
Typical flavors and aromas of Prosecco are those coming from the Glera grapes it is made from, floral and lightly fruity. You will usually find:
notes of apple and pear (stonefruits);
fresh lemon (and possibly other citrus);
hints of honey;
depending on the maturity of the grapes it was made from, you will also find various amounts of grassy, slightly vegetal characters such as acacia or tomato leaf tones.
How Popular is Prosecco?
Prosecco is now the best-selling fizz in all the biggest sparkling wine markets outside of France (yes, the French still like their Champagne more). Countries that love and drink Prosecco the most are the UK, Italy, the US, and Germany. Since 2013, more bottles of Prosecco are sold globally than even bottles of French Champagne (307 million bottles of Prosecco sold in 2013 versus 304 millions of Champagne that year). The British are the biggest drinkers of Prosecco in the world, popping even more corks that even the Italians themselves. UK consumers spend over £350m a year on Prosecco, that’s close to half a million Francs! In the US, Prosecco alone accounts for about 15 percent of all US sparkling wine sales.