Prosecco is one of the most well-known variants of the Italian sparkling white wine and has become an extremely popular drink in a number of countries outside of Italy as well. Generally speaking it is considered to be a dry or extra dry white, and is produced using a grape known as Glera. In some countries, such as the UK, it is used as a slightly less extravagant substitute for champagne, making it particularly good for minor celebration in addition to serving with a variety of meals.
Interestingly the Glera grape used to be known as the “Prosecco” grape in its own right, however this was changed as the grape began to see use in other wines and the DOCG began to permit the use of other types of grapes in the Prosecco bland.
The name of the wine similarly comes from the grape, which in turn was named after the small Italian village of Prosecco, which is located near Trieste. Like many small villages and towns of the era, Prosecco produced its own wine variant using the locally grown grapes, with sales of the drink being used to help support the local economy. Over time people began to develop a taste for Prosecco, which led to a number of other regions producing the wine. These include various regions of Veneto and a number of areas located in the hills to the north of Treviso.
Prosecco sports a fairly unique taste when compared to other sparkling whites and is also comparably low in alcohol content, with most bottles ranging somewhere in the 10-11% region.
The flavour of the drink can best be described as intensely crisp, with clearly defined aromas that will strike the drinker as soon as they raise the glass. A good Prosecco will contain hints of pear, white peach, apricot and apple, which further lends to the crisp and fresh flavour that the drink is known for.
Prosecco is also intended to be a fairly simple wine, so outside of that initial crispness there is little in the way of depth beyond the lingering aromas and flavours. This makes it the perfect light drink for almost any occasion.
Generally speaking, most Proseccos are produced using the Charmat method. This involves a secondary fermentation process in which the wine is placed in stainless steel tanks until it reaches maturity. This makes the wine inexpensive to produce however, in the case of Prosecco at least, also leads to the wine failing to ferment or improve with age once it is in the bottle. This means that it is recommended to drink a Prosecco fairly soon after purchasing it, as the wine is liable to go stale if left too long.
Current statistics indicate that more than 150 million bottles of Prosecco are produced every year, with the wine being sold in a wide variety of countries including its native Italy. Further enhancing this international appeal is the fact that many of the grapes used in production are grown in such far flung areas of the world as Australia and Brazil, making Prosecco a true wine for the international market.
Around 60% of all Proseccos are produced in the Conegliano and Valdobbiadene regions ad there are more than 150 wineries and producers currently operating in those two areas alone.
Prosecco first came into being as a local product of the region of Trieste, where it was initially named Ribolla. As legend has it, the Ribolla wine was the natural heir of the Pucinian wine that was particularly favoured by Pliny the Elder, though it is likely this was a bit if a yarn to entice people into buying the local product.
At the time the Ribolla was fairly difficult to discern from other local wines, plus there were a number of varieties of wines that shared the name. This led to the decision the rename Trieste’s particular variant Prosecco, which also further integrated the wine into its area of production. It is believed that this name change came about in the later 1500s and it has stuck with the wine ever since.
Prosecco is the perfect wine for practically any occasion, thanks in large part to its simple composition and crisp taste. However there are some dishes that the wine seems custom built to complement.
Prosecco complements seafood particular well, with the fresh and fruity taste acting as a perfect accompaniment to freshly cooked fish. It can work to take the edge off a particularly strong tasting dish, helping to provide a slightly lighter feeling as you enjoy your meal.
When eating Prosecco with a dessert it is important to choose something that won’t overpower the wine. Generally speaking this means that you should avoid anything that is particularly rich or overtly sweet, as this will overshadow the crispness of the Prosecco.
Examples of good desserts to eat with a Prosseco include jelly, ideally of a variety that isn’t created using one of the fruits mentioned earlier so that you can create a good contrast between flavours.
For those of you who feel a little bit more adventurous with your Prosecco drinking, it is worth mentioning that the wine is also used in a number of different cocktails. For example, it was originally the main ingredient in both the Bellini and Spritz cocktails and is still ideal for the creation of both.
At its core Prosecco is perhaps amongst the most versatile of the Italian dry sparkling whites. It is inexpensive and perhaps not as rich as a good champagne, but this in turn adds to its charm and makes it ideal for enjoying with light meals and desserts. Furthermore, the fact that it is a sparkling white also makes it popular for minor celebrations, ensuring its popularity will be maintained both locally and in the international market for a number of years to come.