Prosecco wine guide
Prosecco is the best-selling sparkling wine globally, a sparkling wine with delicate aromas of flowers and fruit that is a lively, undemanding drink with a light structure and great pleasure. But the million-dollar question is:
Is Prosecco a great Italian wine?
Maybe. Is it a great wine because it sells millions of bottles, so it has become a cultural phenomenon rather than a simple wine? Or is the opposite true—that if a wine sells too much, it is a mass product and not a good wine?
What are the characteristics of a great wine?
Structure, elegance, persistence, and longevity: quite the opposite of Prosecco.
But is a wine great if it is simple, easy to drink, irresistible, and goes well with a lot of different foods?
Prosecco is not a méthode champenoise wine, and it is not spumante metodo classico!
It is not a great wine, but it is one that must be appreciated for what it is: a simple, lively, fruity, and pleasant, unpretentious wine.
The classic social icebreaker, ideal for creating cocktails or drinks with fried fish. If you don’t ask for the moon, you will be okay.
But perhaps all this confusion comes from the fact that we often compare Prosecco to Champagne, Franciacorta, Trentodoc, Oltrepò Pavese, when in reality Prosecco is light years away and doesn’t even want to mimic these wines, so making comparisons would be useless.
Different production methods, different grape varieties, different terroirs.
Glera, who is this stranger?
Prosecco is made from the grape Glera, which is an old vine with unknown origins that has been known since 1500.
It’s a semi-aromatic grape variety, which means that it is fragrant and very recognizable, especially for its floral notes, but not as strongly as Gewurztraminer, to name the King of aromatic wines.
By rules, it must be made with at least 85% of Glera. The rest could be other white grape varieties such as Verdisio, Bianchetta Treviso, Perera, and Glera Lunga, more rarely Chardonnay or Pinot grigio/Bianco. The known biotypes are: Prosecco Balbi, Prosecco dal peccol rosso, Prosecco lungo, and Prosecco tondo.
How is Prosecco made?
Before the industrialization of Prosecco, it once existed and exists right now as Prosecco colfòndo, made with a second fermentation in the bottle.
The so-called ancestral method, the French “pétillant naturel,” is also used to make artisanal Lambrusco, the real one.
In practice, you harvest the grapes when they are not too mature to preserve their freshness, then crush them and let them ferment, but not entirely because, with the arrival of winter, yeasts go into “hibernate” mode so that you can bottle the wine.
When spring comes back, the yeast starts to work again, eating the sugars and turning them into carbon dioxide.
If all goes well, and the bottles remain in a dark, cool cellar, yeasts can complete their mission successfully, giving us great wines. Otherwise, the bottles could explode.
And this is the old-fashioned way, a more natural way of making wine, because you can’t control the wine or make any changes.
Otherwise, you could use the classical Martinotti method. It’s a fascinating process, but different. In a nutshell, you put the wine in a large autoclave, add selected yeasts, and leave the wine to ferment for 20 days.
The wines are clearer and cleaner, but they have fewer unique qualities. This means that they will always be the same without the unpredictable second fermentation.
Prosecco’s production areas
Prosecco DOC is at home in all of the Veneto region (except the provinces of Rovigo and Verona) and all over Friuli Venezia Giulia.
Prosecco DOCG is restricted only to wines made in Conegliano, Valdobbiadene, and Colli Asolani, a lovely area punctuated by hills in which you can find the best cru.
The DOCGs of Prosecco are Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, as well as Prosecco Colli Asolani, which are, in theory, the best areas, with the best exposures and favored by higher altitude and an ideal microclimate.
And now that the winemakers in Conegliano and Valdobbiadene have “become famous,” in a very smart and opportunistic way, they want to drop the name “Prosecco,” which ties them to thousands of other wine factories, and call themselves “winegrowers.”
Their wine will not be a low-level industrial wine, but it will be a Prosecco. It is too easy now to deny its origins.
Cantina Produttori of Valdobbiadene Val D’Oca makes 13 million bottles of wine, including the highly prized Prosecco Colli Asolani and Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG.
This is why prosecco has become a global icon and a sales champion.
The biggest problem with prosecco is that its popularity has hurt small producers, who are the real backbone of prosecco making.
To keep up with the gold rush and sales, DOC and DOCG wines exploded, and smart industrialists moved into a peasant community.
They turned a fair (farm?) and honest product into a bargain and made prosecco into a joke by putting ridiculous amounts of sugar in it, which made it taste like Coca-Cola, Sprite, or Fanta.
Prosecco’s industrialization resulted in a significant and dramatic loss of quality. Now it is the most popular sparkling wine globally, all done in the hills, of course.
Try to taste the delicious Prosecco di Casa Coste Piane to understand the authentic flavor of prosecco: it is a razor that cuts your tongue, but with a charming rhythm, very different from the other sugared beverages made in Proseccoland.
Cartizze is an enclave of just over 100 hectares (107 acres) in San Pietro di Barbozza, which is always in the municipality of Valdobbiadene.
This sparkling wine is softened by a small amount of sugar left over, which makes it a little gem that goes well with cakes, tarts, and tiramisu.
What does prosecco taste like?
Prosecco has a soft bouquet of pear, peach, apple, white flowers, and classic baked scents. The taste is fruity and fresh, with a slow, savory rhythm and a perlage that makes you want more.
The Colfondo Prosecco is a whole different story. Yeasts are more pounding and make the wine more expressive, full, and vibrant.
Often turbid and with more pronounced and mature aromas, often intertwined with rocky notes, ginger, and pastry reminiscences.
A Martinotti Prosecco has a sharp vertical evolution that ends in an almond finish. Colfondo Prosecco expands itself in all directions, like a slow tide.
Serving temperature of Prosecco
Like any sparkling wine worth its salt, Prosecco should be served at 8 degrees to bring out its freshness. Keep in mind that the harsh notes (like freshness and saltiness) get stronger at lower temperatures, while the aromas get weaker.
Try it with stuffed and fried olives from Ascoli, paella, parmigiana ravioli, spaghetti with clams, chicken tikka masala, Chicken Cacciatore, Vitello Tonnato, truffle risotto, pasta alla carbonara, paccheri stuffed with swordfish, tagliolini with squid, marinara risotto, risi e bisi.