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