Some say no other beverage defines the Italian philosophy of la dolce vita, or the good life, quite like Prosecco.
It’s long been the aperitivo of choice for Italians up and down the peninsula, and it’s now the most sold sparkler in the U.S.—and for good reason: It’s refreshing, flavorful, light-bodied, (usually) dry, and features a wallet-friendly price tag.
But that’s not all. Here are 11 other power points you need to know about this iconic bubbly.
It can only produce in specific areas of Italy.
Prosecco is produced exclusively in select parts of northeastern Italy. While Prosecco DOC can be grown in nine provinces throughout the Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia regions, Prosecco Conegliano Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG can only be made in the Treviso province of Veneto, on the hills between towns of the same names. The more obscure Asolo Prosecco DOCG Superiore—also known as Colli Asolani Prosecco Superiore DOCG—is also produced in Treviso, between the towns of= Cornuda and Asolo.
Prosecco DOC versus Superiore DOCG.
Wines made under the DOCG regulations are the most strictly controlled in Italy. DOCGs are generally considered to be the most prestigious wines in the country, and this also holds true for Prosecco. The Prosecco Conegliano Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG zone has long been celebrated for the quality of its grapes and is the classic growing area. Here, as in the lesser-known and smaller Asolo DOCG area, grapes are grown exclusively on hillside vineyards, where yields are naturally lower than grapes grown on flat land.
On the other hand, Prosecco DOC is a much larger area and grape growing is not limited to hillsides but can be almost anywhere in the growing zone. The more flexible rules in the in the Prosecco DOC allow for much higher grape yields when compared to the Prosecco DOCGs.
Single-vineyard Prosecco is famous for a reason.
The most famous vineyard area for Prosecco is Cartizze, in the commune of Valdobbiadene. Prosecco Superiore DOCG Cartizze generally boasts more complexity and a greater depth of flavors than most other Proseccos.
“Prosecco” is actually not the name of the grape.
In 2009, to stop imitators around the world from using the Prosecco designation, Italy has regulated and protected the prosecco name under its DOC and DOCG regulations. As part of its efforts, the Italian government also officially changed the name of the grape from Prosecco to Glera. Glera must account for at least 85% of all Proseccos. Other grapes commonly added to Glera include native varieties Verdiso, Bianchetta Trevigiana, Perera, Glera Lunga and international grapes Chardonnay, and Pinot Bianco and Pinot Grigio.
It’s not always bubbly.
While iconic Proseccos are sparkling, both the DOC and DOCG versions can be made in sparkling, semi-sparkling and even still versions.
It’s sparkling wine, not Champagne.
Not only does Champagne hail from different grapes and exclusively from France’s Champagne region, but, in order to gets its bubbles, Champagne must be made by fermenting the wine in the bottle, known as theméthode Champenoise (metodo classico in Italian). Prosecco, on the other hand, is generally made by fermenting the wine in steel tanks, a method known as the Charmat Method (also called the Italian method).
Some do have that yeasty character Champagne-lovers like.
A small but growing number of Prosecco producers are returning to the customary method of refermenting (or in some cases, finishing the first alcoholic fermentation) in the bottle, known locally as col fondo. Rather than disgorging, as they do in Champagne, Prosecco producers using the col fondo technique leave the yeasts in the bottle, causing a layer of sediment to develop and accumulate on the bottom (IL fondo in Italian). The sediment adds to the wine’s flavor profile
There’s a range from sweet to dry.
Prosecco DOC can be made in four different levels of sweetness, Brut, Extra dry, Dry or Demi-Sec, with Brut being the driest and Demi-Sec the sweetest. Prosecco Superiore has three levels of sweetness, Brut, Extra Dry and Dry, the driest being the Brut version.
Typical Proseccos have aromas and flavors of white spring flowers, citrus fruits, green apples and pears. They are balanced with lively acidity and an elegant mousse.
It’s not just an aperitivo.
Even though Prosecco makes a quintessential before-dinner drink, the brut versions can be paired with pizza or pastas topped with seafood.
You can drink it every day.
Prosecco should be enjoyed young and fresh. It’s perfect for all occasions, and as the Italians know, it’s ideal for every day. Enjoy!
BY KERIN O’KEEFE