Today it is not uncommon to drink a glass of Prosecco while enjoying a meal with family, or celebrating a special occasion. Unsurprisingly, the roots of the wine lie deep in the Italian countryside, some several thousand years ago.
Prosecco has been drunk since the early Roman times, and was made using the same Glera grapes which are still used today. Glera grapes are abundant on the Karst hills north of the Italian city of Trieste, near the village of Prosecco - which lends its name to the wine. Over the 18th Century the cultivation of Glera grapes multiplied exponentially, expanding through the regions of Veneto and Friuli, where the wine is made to this day. It is believed that the white grape’s aromatic qualities and dry taste are the main reasons for its boost in popularity.
Today, the Veneto and Friuli wine regions boast over 8,000 estates, from more than 150 sparkling wine producers. Each year around 150 million bottles of Prosecco are produced, an estimated 60% of the entire world’s supply. Furthermore, with Controlled Designation of Origin (DOCG) status under European law, you can be sure that any bottle sold as Prosecco is made to the highest quality, and has actually been cultivated and manufactured in this specific area of Northern Italy.
There are three main types of Prosecco, to suit all manner of personal preferences. Prosecco spumante is a fully sparkling wine, whereas frizzante and gentile are both very slightly sparkling. The duration and pressure used during secondary fermentation is what causes this variation in the wine. Prosecco undergoes secondary fermentation in stainless steel vessels, in what wine manufacturers call the Charmat method. This is a less expensive alternative to the méthode champenoise process of fermenting champagne, where the wine instead ferments inside the individual glass bottles.
In terms of flavour, Prosecco is commonly described as simple with a fruity taste and aroma. Tasters often detect yellow apple, pear, apricot and white peach, with less of the secondary taste and aroma which we find with the likes of champagne. In accordance with the EU laws surrounding the labelling of wine sweetness, Prosecco is generally described as a Brut, Extra Dry or Dry. This depends on the amount of residual sugar per litre of wine, but allows consumers to choose the bottle best suited to their preference.
Within Italy, Prosecco is enjoyed as a wine for all occasions. However, outside of the country it is generally enjoyed on special occasions or before a meal. In fact, many of us have enjoyed a bottle of Prosecco with a birthday meal or graduation celebration, just as we would do with champagne. However, unlike champagne which is said to improve with age, Prosecco doesn’t continue to ferment inside the bottle. It is recommended to be drunk within three years of its vintage, although certain high quality wines have the potential to last for up to seven years.
Do you have a favourite type of Prosecco, or are you more of a champagne person? Have you ever visited the stunning Veneto region?