The Italian Sparkling Wine.
Over the years my friends have known I do enjoy a cocktail or drink to say the least, not to mention my love for champagne. My taste for bubbly is on the top of my list, but anyone that knows wine and sparkling wine knows that the bubbly is just as diverse. Right there to clarify, Champagne is technically only originating from the Champagne region of France, anything else is considered sparkling wine. That brings up my personal favorite… Prosecco, which is Italian sparkling wine. But that too is now debatable.
In modern times, Prosecco was always looked upon as the poor man’s Champagne. Though that stigma has changed of late, when it comes to bubbly, no other gives you a better bang for your buck than Prosecco. To compare, if you buy a less than $10 bottle of Champagne, you know you’re getting something, well that you shouldn’t have bought. Yet, spend less than $10 on a bottle of Prosecco and you usually are in for a wonderful treat. In fact, where sparkling wine under $10, Andre etc, are known to be retched, there so far has yet to be a brand of Prosecco known to taste even remotely bad.
A quick history lesson…
Prosecco originated in the late 1500’s. First documented around 1593 to be exact. From then on it became an Italian staple. Though not popular outside of Italy for centuries, in the 1900’s it gained popularity. Up until the 1960’s, Prosecco was protected under the DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata, or “controlled designation of origin“), which basically states under Italian law, that any sparkling wine using the word Prosecco, MUST come from a specified region in Northern Italy. After the 60’s that changed, and did so due to it’s rising popularity. Mostly because the rest of the world was not familiar with it, so the cost was low, though most compare great vintages to those of French champagnes. Now the tides are turning. Places like Trader Joe’s, Costco (LaMarca is a great one, and only around $14.99) and more feature it, great for those to still get at a reasonable price, but it also shows in no time the cost will rise. With the right vintages, you will find arranging in price from $9.99 on up to $169.99.
More on the history and differences from say French (the only reminding you) Champagne, is the grapes from which it is made. The three grapes used and allowed in the production of Champagne are… chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier. Where as Prosecco is primarily produced from the “prosecco“, or glera grape, native to the Veneto region of Italy thus getting it’s name from, prosecco that is.
I don’t want to get into all the other intricate details of how it’s made and so on, but one other notable difference with sparkling wine and Champagne, is that Prosecco does not ferment in the bottle. So unlike fine Champagne, Prosecco is meant to be drunk young, which is within three years of it’s bottling or vintage. Some of the higher end producers may be aged up to seven years. My point there, simple, don’t be afraid if you see a year old vintage and think it may not be as good as when a wine is older. Here, young is in.
My best Prosecco moment? Sitting in a little, ambiance filled ristorante off the beaten path in Venice, Italy. The server asked if I wanted anything to drink with dinner. I replied Prosecco, to which he rattled off in Italian some various sizes. I chose the middle sounding one, lol. Which ended up being a carafe. I believe it only cost only a few euros. It had such flavor, perfect with my meal, and too much to finish. I asked who the maker was, again he rattled off in Italian which seemed to be some local grower just outside of Venice. He then took the rest of the caraf, returned moments later with a to-go container and wished us a great night. Ahhhh, Venice… ahhh Italy.
My favorite? Well way too many I have already enjoyed and way too many I am looking forward to enjoying. But one that sets itself apart to my palate is Valdo Prosecco. It’s produced in the Veneto region of Northern Italy, which is just outside of the great city of Venice. It is one of the most fruity brands I have had, but it’s essence along with it’s flavor, hands down makes it my favorite. The good? It’s so inexpensive, ranging in price from $15-$25 a bottle. The bad? It is thus far so hard to find, at least her in Southern California. Some exclusive Italian markets will carry it, and now & then Whole Foods will too. As mentioned above I found at CostCo, is LaMarca, nice balance between some of the more fruity ones and more dry ones. Best of all, I have bought from $19-$25 a bottle, then hit the jack pot at CostCo for only $14.99. And one I just recently tried at The Must in Downtown Los Angeles is Merotto. More of a dry Prosecco, but strong, tasty flavor.
When’s best to drink it? Within Italy, Presecco is enjoyed for every occasion as any other wine through out the country. From breakfast to a night cap, it’s taste and appeal works around the clock, with any meal or any event. I have to agree. There’s such a unique taste to Prosecco, it’s perfect in a mimosa (yet not fully accepted), enjoyed with a light lunch, and any dinner is perfect. Best of all, because of it’s low cost, enjoy some sitting home watching a movie or break open a bottle for a night on the town. See? You can afford to offer me a glass next time you want to buy me a drink someplace, lol. And best of all, I will always be grateful you did.