What to drink in the New Year? Prosecco!
Not very short, but very informative: who, what, why and with what they eat literally.
For starters, Prosecco is sparkling wine, not Champagne. Let’s gradually wean ourselves off calling everything sparkling. At least for reasons of solidarity with the unfortunate, oppressed French, whose eyes bleed at the sight of our shelves and the names on some bottles.
But to Prosecco.
Prosecco is originally from northeastern Italy, but its production center is a small area in Veneto called Conegliano Valdobbiadene. It is often equated with an ordinary commercial wine, although high quality Italian sparkling wine is becoming more readily available. Now you can buy Prosecco for any occasion: both for a friendly party and for a business dinner.
Manufacturing technologies are constantly improving, and the desire for experimentation among manufacturers is increasing. The result is a finer sparkling and lower sugar content that emphasizes terroir, quality and style. For the true connoisseur of wine, the world of Prosecco opens up vast spaces to explore.
Glera grape variety
Previously, the grapes from which Prosecco was made had two names: Prosecco and Glera. Thin-skinned green grapes have been cultivated in the Veneto and Friuli regions of northern Italy for hundreds of years.
The emergence of a huge number of plantations of these grapes around the world forced the Italian authorities in 2009 to rename it “Glera” in order to protect the name “Prosecco”. The French did the same with champagne, making the Champagne region the only place in the world for the production of its famous sparkling wine. In the same year, the name Conegliano Valdobbiadene received 44th place in the Italian DOCG category.
In Italy, Prosecco has only three special wines, which must contain at least 85% of the glera variety. However, manufacturers from other countries often write their names on bottles, causing legal disputes.
Glera usually produces a large harvest, and the higher it is, the more neutral the wine is obtained from it. The moderately high acidity of this grape makes it ideal for sparkling wine. It smells like melon, pear, peach and white flowers. It produces wines from light to medium-bodied. Depending on the manufacturer and the amount of residual sugar, the alcohol level in Prosecco ranges from 8.5% to 12.5% in very dry wines.
Champagne vs Prosecco: what’s the difference?
From a technical point of view, the production of Champagne is much more expensive than the production of Prosecco. Yet the biggest reason for this cost differential is consumer demand and market positioning.
Since Champagne is considered an elite premium wine, it occupies a high price niche. On the other hand, there are excellent Prosecco from the Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG and Colli Asolani (Asolo Prosecco Superiore DOCG) wine regions, but usually their cost does not exceed 2-3 thousand rubles per bottle (this is where you can get inexpensive first-class wine).
The most expensive and well-known technology is the classic method. It is with this method that the legendary sparkling wine is produced in Champagne. The winemaker fills the bottle with still dry wine, adds yeast and sugar, and then seals the crown with a cork. After the yeast has processed the sugar, a fermentation by-product, CO2, is released.
According to the classical method, secondary fermentation takes place in the bottle, which will then end up on the store shelf. This way of production transforms the wine: it adds complexity, texture, aromas of brioche buns and bread toast, which are revealed more and more with age.
The classic method is not for everyone – some wines are better when they are young and invigorating. In this case, a different manufacturing technology is used.
Most Prosecco undergo secondary fermentation in large tanks. This method is known by various names: the Sharma-Martinotti method, the Italian method, the tank method, the cuve close or closed method, and the autoclave method. It is cheaper, faster and less labor intensive than the classic method.
The base wine is poured into a tank, where secondary fermentation takes place under the influence of sugar and yeast. When the correct pressure is reached, the wine is cooled to stop the fermentation process. This technology preserves the aroma and freshness of the wine.
Champagne is a sparkling wine produced in the French province of Champagne near the city of Reims, 130 kilometers northeast of Paris.
- Made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grape varieties;
- Production technology is an expensive classical method;
- A standard serving of brut champagne contains about 128 calories (alcohol 12%);
- The price of a bottle of the simplest champagne is about 3-4 thousand rubles.
Prosecco is a sparkling wine from the Italian Veneto region near Treviso, 24 kilometers north of Venice.
- Made from Prosecco grapes (also known as Glera);
- When manufacturing, an available tank method is used;
- The calorie content of a standard serving of Prosecco is 121 calories (alcohol 11%);
- The cost of a bottle of good, but inexpensive Prosecco is 1000 rubles.
Champagne flavor profile
Basic notes of taste and aroma of champagne: citrus, white peach, white cherry, toasted bread, almonds.
Champagne takes a long time to mature and forms a yeast sediment, which is why it often has a faint cheese aroma, which in the best examples is felt like the aroma of toasted toast or baked goods. These wines are aged in bottles under high pressure, which contributes to the formation of delicate, long-lasting bubbles. Vintage champagne combines the aromas of orange peel, almond and white cherry.
What dishes is combined with
Most champagne wines are very dry and have a high acidity, so they are perfect as an aperitif to seafood, pickled vegetables, fried appetizers and dishes in crispy batter. Drinking champagne fries with champagne may seem bad form, but believe me, this is a divine combination!
Flavor profile of Prosecco
The main notes of taste and aroma of Prosecco: green apple, white cantaloupe, pear, honeysuckle, fresh cream.
Prosecco is dominated by the aromas of fruits and flowers typical of the grapes from which it is made. Wine matures in large tanks, where the pressure is less than in bottles, so Prosecco’s bubbles are more airy, lighter and faster. The first-class Prosecco has notes of tropical fruits, banana mousse, hazelnut, vanilla and honeycomb.
What dishes is combined with
Prosecco is a sweeter wine, so it is perfect with corned beef, savory fruit snacks like ham melon, and Central Asian dishes like Thai noodles and sushi.
In the Champagne region, the climate is cool, so the French grapes have a high acidity. And in the Valdobbiadene wine region, where the Prosecco variety grows, it is warmer than in Champagne, despite the heavy rains in the Treviso area.
Prosecco DOC and DOCG zones
You may have noticed the DOC and DOCG labels on the Italian wine bottles. These abbreviations denote the quality categories that are assigned to the best wines in Italy.
At the bottom of the quality pyramid is the DOC Prosecco, which is produced in the nine provinces of Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia. If the wine is produced and bottled in Treviso or Trieste, then the label will write Prosecco DOC Treviso (Prosecco DOC Treviso) or Prosecco DOC Trieste (Prosecco DOC Trieste). There are far fewer requirements for DOC wines than for DOCG wines.
The highest level of the pyramid contains the most upscale and exquisite wines. They are produced in the wine zones Asolo Prosecco DOCG (Asolo Prosecco DOCG) and Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG (Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG). Conegliano Valdobbiadene includes two titles: Superiore Rive DOCG and Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze DOCG (Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze DOCG).
The wines of Conegliano Valdobbiadene Superior Prosecco DOCG are made exclusively in the hills of the province of Treviso, between the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene. There, as in most of Europe, grape cultivation dates back to the Roman era. Mentions of local wine and its importance in people’s daily lives can be found on memorial plates, in ancient manuscripts and painted frescoes.
Conegliano has long been considered the cultural capital. Prosecco owes its origin to the first Italian wine school in the city. It is called the School of Oenology. Valdobbiadene is hiding among endless vineyards in the heart of the wine-growing area.
Superiore Rive DOCG is produced in 43 dedicated vineyard plots. These vineyards are located on steep slopes with different soil types and unique microclimate and are considered to be the best. The grapes are harvested by hand, and the vintage is always indicated on the label.
Crowning the top of the pyramid of quality Valdobbiadene Superior di Cartizza DOCG – the pearl of the Italian grand cru among Prosecco wines. The wines from the Cartizza site, located in the Valdobbiadene wine-growing area, have had their own set of rules since 1969. These are the most expensive wines in their category – leading producers can charge up to $ 75 per bottle.
In order not to get confused in these complex designations, it is enough to remember that Prosecco DOC is refreshing and easy to drink; Superior DOCG – head and shoulders above this high-quality wine from the terroirs of Rive and the famous Cartizza.
Sparkling and sweetness levels of Prosecco
Prosecco is usually frizzante (semi-sparkling) and spumante (sparkling), although quiet examples are sometimes found. Prosecco Frizante differs from Spumante in a lower pressure in the bottle (no higher than 2.5 bar versus 5 bar in sparkling Prosecco), as well as a more affordable price. Prosecco Spumante can be a worthy alternative to more expensive champagne.
In terms of sugar content, Prosecco DOC is divided into four categories, from the driest to the sweetest:
- Brut (up to 12 g / l.)
- Extra Dry (12-17 g / l.)
- Dry (17-32 g / l.)
- Demi-Sec (32-50 g / l.)
We should also mention Prosecco Col Fondo (Prosecco Col Fondo). Lovers of pétillant naturel or pét-nat will appreciate this semi-sparkling natural wine, produced using a simple “rustic” technology with a minimum of interference.
When making Col Fondo, a mixture of Glera and other local varieties is fermented in a bottle without disgorgement. As a result, the leftover yeast forms a sediment, which makes the wine slightly cloudy. Literally “col fondo” means “with sediment”. These wines are fermented to a very dry state and mature over several years. Cole fondos have a distinctive structure, which is why they are adored by sommeliers and wine geeks who are constantly looking for unusual tastes and new types of wines.
Is all Prosecco originally from Italy?
The roots of the Italian Prosecco go deep into antiquity, in Slovenia this grape variety has also been cultivated for a long time, and recently it appeared in the Australian King Valley wine-growing zone. Prosecco and other varieties such as Sangiovese and Nebbiolo came to Australia with immigrants from Italy.
Australian Prosecco is in high demand, and winemakers are fighting for the right to call that not only grapes, but the wine itself. They believe that Prosecco is a long-standing common name for a grape variety and therefore should not fall under the legal framework. The discussion on this issue caused great controversy during trade negotiations with the European Union.