Frizzante prosecco. Easy like Sunday morning.

French champagne. Spanish cava. Australian sparkling. What makes Italian prosecco stand out amongst the competition?

 

Prosecco
Quick Guide

Prosecco

What is it?

An Italian sparkling wine, prosecco has been produced commercially for almost 500 years. Decades ago it had a reputation as being cloyingly sweet, but has evolved into an extremely refreshing, uncomplicated, quaffable and versatile fizz.

Where's it from?

North east Italy, around Venice, Treviso and Trieste.

What does it taste like?

Light, cheery, fizzy. Sweet, semi-dry, dry. An accompanying spritz to a seafood entree or a cooling refresher on a balmy afternoon, prosecco is a simpler version of Champagne with more robust bubbles but slightly less depth of flavour. Essences include apple, pistachio, pear and honeycomb.

Tip

Because prosecco is not bottle-aged (like champagne), it should actually be drunk as young as possible – ideally within three years of production – otherwise it may go off.

Prosecco History 

In a nutshell, prosecco is an affordable, quaffable Italian sparkling wine produced in the Veneto region of north east Italy, about 50kms north of Venice. Most importantly, it’s a delicious, easy-drinking and versatile wine that has seen sales skyrocket in recent years.

Until 2009, prosecco was the name of the wine, the name of the grape from which the wine was made, and the village in Trieste after which the wine was named. Prosecco is now solely the name of the specific Italian area of production, indicating (and guaranteeing) its geographic provenance. The wine’s name has been changed to ‘glera’ (an ancient word for prosecco) for any sparkling produced in Europe outside this region. Unlike “champagne” however, this ruling has not extended to Australia where it is still produced as prosecco.

Prosecco grapes have been made into wine since Roman times, with Italy’s prosecco becoming well known by the Middle Ages. However the faintly fizzy, sweetish wine of the 1100s bears little resemblance to what we enjoy today. As technology improved and fermentation methods changed (from in-bottle to pressurised tanks) the wine evolved into the lightly effervescent, low alcohol everyday easy-drinking bubbly we know today.

Australian Prosecco Regions 

A relative newcomer to Australian shores, prosecco has been produced here since 2000. Other countries developing a robust prosecco market include Brazil, Romania and Argentina.

The King Valley in northern Victoria is becoming a prolific producer of home-grown prosecco, as is the Yarra Valley. Prosecco is a cool-climate wine, which limits growing regions somewhat. Young in south east NSW is another prosecco-producing region, as is Eden Valley in the Barossa.

Popular Prosecco Brands

Riccadonna Prosecco, from the controlled Veneto region of northern Italy, is one of the best examples of this versatile Italian sparkling wine. In fact Riccadonna’s  four major sparkling varietals are a perfect match for Australia’s summer cuisine and al fresco lifestyle. Local Australian favourites include Brown Brothers, Jacobs Creek and Yellowglen.

Prosecco Flavour

One of the most surprising revelations about Prosecco is that it doesn’t have to have bubbles. It’s actually produced in three varieties; spumante (sparkling), frizzante (semi-sparkling) and tranquillo (still), although the tranquillo makes up less than 5% of production and is rarely exported. Most Australian and imported Italian proseccos deliver bubbles with a wonderfully light, sparkly, frothy, spritzy effervescence.

Prosecco is produced using the “Méthode Charmat” whereby the wine is fermented and aged in a steel tank (rather than in bottles as is champagne). It’s a way of intensifying the flavours and aromas, but it sacrifices some ‘perlage’ (the number and intensity of bubbles evident), hence the lightness of spritz. Flavours of tropical fruits such as bananas and peach are evident, as are sweeter essences of vanilla, honeycomb and hazelnut.

Prosecco Food Matching

One of the beauties of prosecco is its versatility. What would you like to drink your prosecco with? Or without? On you go, as long as it’s chilled.

But as with all generic wine categories, there are variations on a theme. Prosecco, depending on its region of origin and fermentation process, can be sweet, semi-dry (brut) or very dry (pas dosè). The sweeter versions (with at least 15g sugar per litre) work well with desserts, particularly pastries or creamy, fruity puddings as well as spicy food. The drier brut prosecco ( less than 12g sugar/litre) is a great accompaniment to seafood, risotto and pasta, whilst the very dry pas dosè (meaning ‘no sugar’) works well with fattier foods such as salami and prosciutto and even pizza.
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