The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Toasting the New Year with Prosecco

Posted on | December 30, 2015 | Written by IWM Staff | No Comments

Prosecco_Flutes jpegProsecco seems to be hitting its stride. In fact, as New Year’s Eve arrives, lots of sparkling wine drinkers are reaching for this Italian bubbly, and for many reasons. One of the main reasons is Prosecco’s price point; you can get really fantastic, organic bottles priced in the $20 and under range. This means it’s easy to afford wine for you and your guests to enjoy, and given that Prosecco clocks in at around 11% alcohol—less than Champagne—you can drink more of it.

Sales of Prosecco have shot up in recent years as consumers discover the value-oriented alternative to champagne; in fact, Prosecco’s sales have outstripped those of Champagne. Prosecco’s light body and citrus flavor profile makes it easy to drink at any time, and that’s just one reason why Prosecco has gained popularity of late. The other reason is that Prosecco has definitely upped its quality in the past twenty years, in part because of changes in DOC regulations.

Since April 1, 2010, when the current DOC regulations became effective, the term “Prosecco” refers to a specific place—the Veneto and parts of Friuli-Venezia Giulia in the northeastern corner of Italy. These two regions, along with nine other specific provinces, geographically define the Prosecco DOC. While Prosecco is actually the name of a town near the city of Trieste in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, the wine’s major grape, commonly known as Prosecco, also goes by the ancient name of Glera, a name unfamiliar even to the people within the region. However, only the name has changed; Italian Prosecco has always been made with Glera, though lesser known varieties have figured into the wine’s composition in rather negligible amounts over time.

The incorporation of the new DOCG classification, Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore, ensures that wines from the two most prominent zones will face stricter controls and be given the highest guarantee. Composed of fifteen communes (or townships), the Conegliano-Valdobbiadene zone is a hilly region with very steep slopes that require vineyard operations to be performed by hand, a practice that has been in place for over three centuries. In addition to the general designation, wines that derive from a single hillside will, in conjunction with standard DOCG labeling, include the term rive, which refers to the finest vineyards and those receiving favorable exposure.

A wine that dates back to ancient times, Prosecco is Italy’s most emblematic sparkling wine. Made with the Charmat method that, unlike in Cava and Champagne, has its secondary fermentation takes place in a vat, Prosecco is beloved for its refreshing acidity, pleasant aromatics and delicate flavors of peach and green apple. It’s a lovely alternative to Champagne, whether on New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day brunch, or any time a sparkling wine seems to fit the festivities.

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