Prosecco: Giving Champagne a Run for Its Money

Prosecco: Giving Champagne a Run for Its Money
Welcome to Wine Wednesdays here at the 30 Minute Dinner Party! You can’t really have a dinner party without wine, but it is a big, confusing vino world out there. Don’t worry: many wine professionals don’t know the names of every wine making house! With Wine Wednesdays, we will give you what you need to know to select, serve, and say something witty about the wines of the world.

The word is out. This incredibly easy-sipping wine is something special.

And it’s about to get even better.

What You Need to Know

Long lumped with run-of-the-mill Italian sparklers like Asti Spumante, Prosecco is making a stand.

From the 2009 vintage onward, Prosecco is now a D.O.C.G – guaranteed quality region. Every bottle is numbered like a limited edition print and wines have to pass a tasting panel before release.

Light, low in alcohol, and just fruity enough, this is the perfect way to start any party. It works as well on the deck in summer as at a holiday soiree with winter fare.

The Lowdown

Grape: Glera/Prosecco
Region: The Veneto (Italy), specifically in Conegliano and Valdobbiadene (just north of Venice)
Flavor: light and fizzy, fruity but slightly bitter
Color: straw, light honey
How to Serve: chilled
Cost: $10-12
(high quality bottles for $15!)

Well-known BRANDS: Mionetto, Cavit (Lunetta), Enrico, Nino Franco Rustico

WHEN to Drink: Prosecco is not meant to be kept in the bottle for long; it can grow stale. Drink it as soon as you can, and definitely don’t let it hang around for more than a year.

How to PAIR: Low in alcohol and less dry than Champagne, Prosecco is a perfect choice for an aperitivo (pre-dinner drink). For a great regional pairing, pick up some Piave cheese, a delicious, little-known variety. It’s also great with seafood and even heartier fare like cured meat or spicy Asian dishes.

The Backstory

Like most of the Italian peninsula, vines have adorned the Veneto since before the Roman Empire. The Prosecco grape was a much later entrant to the area, however.

Prosecco as we know it is rather new, as wines go. In the 1870s, winemaker Antonio Carpené brought the innovative Charmat method for making sparkling wine from France. The School of Viticulture and Enology he founded at Conegliano ensures that Prosecco production retains its high quality.

In the 1960s, Prosecco starting working its way into the hearts of millions. Italians outside the Veneto began enjoying it any time of day (breakfast included!). In the U.S., bottles fly off the shelves.

Fun Party Facts

(1) Only 41 wine regions in Italy carry the DOCG rank that has recently been award to Prosecco. It joins the ranks of heavy-weights like Barola, Barbera, and Chianti.

(2) An Austrian Prosecco knock-off (in a can!) notoriously featured Paris Hilton in its ads. Major Prosecco producer Matteo Bisol observed “that was when everyone here realized we had a problem. Without Paris Hilton, we wouldn’t have a DOCG.”

(3) In the past decade, producers in Brazil, Argentina, and Australia have also started to make prosecco.

Accolades

“Prosecco is more an aperitif than a serious wine like a Champagne would be,” says Stefano Ongaro, co-owner of All’Angelo on Melrose Boulevard.

The Carpene Malvolti Prosecco received the prestigious ‘diploma d’oro’ at the globally acclaimed Expovinia Wine Exhibition in Zurich, Switzerland.

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