American sales of this Italian sparkling wine are slated to surpass those of Champagne in 2012.
Initially, Prosecco’s increased popularity was likely due to the downturn in the economy. Consumers over the past few lean years turned to the less expensive Prosecco for their celebratory sparkling wine, foregoing the more expensive and sometimes difficult-to-love Champagne.
Along the way an interesting thing happened; consumers fell in love with this easy-drinking quaff, made in Prosecco, the region, from Prosecco, the grape.
The region of Prosecco is slightly northeast of Venice. The Italians zealously protect the name Prosecco like the French protect the word Champagne. True Prosecco comes only from the defined region north of Venice. Other sparkling wines are made in Italy, but they are not called Prosecco.
Venetian restaurants and bars have long generously dispensed glasses of Prosecco before a meal. Natives in the region gather in bars in late afternoon for a glass of Prosecco they call an “ombrette,” a little pick me up.
Italians also mix fruit juices and fruit purées with Prosecco to make cocktail aperitifs. The most famous of these cocktails is the bellini, a mixture of white peach juice and Prosecco invented at Harry’s Bar in Venice.
One can mix or adulterate Prosecco with other potions without guilt because this is an inexpensive and versatile wine.
Unlike Champagne, Prosecco by law is made using the tank method, where secondary fermentation occurs in industrial-sized closed vats into which carbon dioxide is introduced to create bubbles. Champagne goes through its secondary fermentation in the bottle, thus requiring a lot of corking and uncorking to arrive at the finished product. It is by necessity more labor-intensive and therefore more expensive than other sparkling wines like Prosecco.
Prosecco is usually made from only the Prosecco grape, but some producers blend in small amounts of other varietals.
Unlike Champagne, Prosecco is not age-worthy. It is ready for consumption upon release. One producer’s entry under the “drink by” date reads “Now.”
Prosecco is not an intellectual wine requiring studious analysis. It should be quaffed and not overthought.
Prosecco is perfect for this time of year and falls into that category of easy, sleazy, super breezy wines. Prosecco is easy to drink; most have a bit of residual sugar that makes them less dry than Champagne and more approachable. Prosecco is sleazy (perhaps a better word is cheap). A top-notch Prosecco is rarely over $20. And Prosecco is breezy; it should be served super-chilled.
Try one of these appealing sparklers:
Canella Bellini or Canella Mimosa. $15.75 at Tyson’s Fine Wine and Things in Golden Springs. From the Canella family, these wines are a blend of Prosecco and fresh peach juice for the bellini and blood orange juice for the mimosa. Made from all-natural ingredients with no additives, these are premixed requiring no work other than chilling. Perfect for summer aperitifs, brunches and bridal showers.
Candoni Prosecco. In the $14 range at Tyson’s and at the Wine Cellar on Quintard in Anniston. Pale, straw colored, pleasant wine with a beautiful label of toga-clad Romans dancing around the bottle.
Zardetto Brut Private Cuvee. $15.75 at Tyson’s. From a blend of chardonnay, Muscat and Prosecco. Pleasant, fizzy on the approach. Prosecco typically has underlying peach flavors and this one is no exception. Balanced, floral, peachy wine.
Oriel 365 Prosecco. $20.50 at Tyson’s. A higher-end Prosecco. The 365 is the producer’s not-so-subtle attempt to convey that it should be enjoyed 365 days a year. Peach flavors on the approach, creamy at mid-palate with a sprightly finish.