Many years ago a local wine was having difficulty in being recognised and so was re named in 1593 Prosecho, after the local village. In 1754 it was slightly alerted to Prosecco, and now that name remains as one of the world’s fastest growing trends in sparkling wine. The village lies in Northern Italy, the areas of Veneto and Friuli-Venezia-Giulia being now officially, as of 2008, designated DOC status, and they alone produce Prosecco. Prosecco is now the official wine name and the grape is called Glera.
The production centres around the towns of Valdobbiadene and Conegliano, two names well worth looking for on the label as a sign of quality. This once small region has expanded to about 19,500 hectacres of vines and is estimated to produce 240 million bottles of Prosecco annually. Although they have produced wine here for centuries, it has only been since the 1990s that the popularity has grown.
In the 1960s Italian sparkling wine centred around the sweet sticky wines of Asti, but technology has changed so much since then, as well as tastes, plus the ability to make drier styles and better quality wines. People started looking around and Prosecco took off.
The Glera grape is not difficult to produce, the key to good Prosecco lies in an early harvest to ensure a good acidity. Once harvested the grapes undergo their first fermentation to about 9-10% abv. They then undergo a second fermentation, this time in a sealed tank, unlike Champagne where this stage is done in bottle. This takes the abv to about 11-12%, lower than many other sparkling wines. The wine is then chilled, to hold the bubbles created during the second fermentation in the wine, filtered, and then the dosage is added to suit the market before the final bottling. The process is known as the Charmat or the Tank method, and here it is used to produce softer lighter bubbles, as well as capture all the essential fruits.
Prosecco is a much lighter style of sparkling wine, it is made to be drunk young, within 3 years of the vintage. It has an intense, floral, citric nose, and the flavours of apricot, peach, pears and yellow apples. It’s clean acidity gives a lively balance, a crisp finish, with a softer bubble, making a refreshing style. It is known not just a celebration drink, but has established itself a much wider base being simply enjoyed by the glass or with meals at any time. It’s quality to value ratio has clearly won Prosecco many friends.
A glass of Prosecco goes well with Prosciutto, creamy sauces, seafoods, Asian dishes, white meats and summer salads. It is a very versatile drink and often used in cocktails as well. Prosecco comes in several styles, or degrees of sweetness, from Brut ,up to 12gms sugar, Extra Dry, 12-17 gms and Dry 17-32gms. It’s a great glass of wine especially in summer - enjoy it.