In A Taste of Italian Sunshine you can take an armchair wine tasting tour around the Conegliano-Valdobbiadene region with seven different varieties of prosecco selected by our main character Jenn, in her work as a wine buyer. Unfortunately, I made up these wines for copyright reasons, but you can still get an idea for the fruit notes and secondary flavours – and joyful characteristics of this very drinkable sparkling wine – in the descriptions in the book. Here’s a few facts about Prosecco! 🥂
A Few Facts about Prosecco:
- To be called ‘Prosecco’, the wine needs to be produced in the specified region in northern Italy, which covers most of Veneto and part of Friuli-Venezia Giulia (the DOC region). To be called ‘Prosecco Superiore’ (often followed by the location), it needs to be produced in a small corner of Veneto between Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, or in a small area around Asolo, in the province of Treviso (the DOCG region).
- Prosecco must be made from at least 85% grapes of the glera variety. These grapes used to be called ‘prosecco’, but the name was changed in 2009 to avoid confusion, because the town called ‘Prosecco’ is not in the DOCG region. The other 15% can be made up of other white grape varieties or pinot noir to make a rosé.
- Not all prosecco is sparkling! The most common type is ‘spumante’, the lively bubbles most people associate with prosecco. But the wine is also made in a ‘frizzante’ (gentler bubbles) or ‘tranquillo’ variety (that is rarely exported).
- The bubbles in prosecco are usually produced in tanks according to what the Italians call the Martinotti method (and the French call the Charmat method), requiring less space for the storage of bottles and less labour disgorging the by-products of the fermentation (the cost-intensive part of making sparkling wine by traditional methods). But bottle-fermented proseccos do exist in the ‘ancestral’ style, where the wine remains cloudy afterward (called ‘col fondo’ or ‘sui lieviti’). These wines can be a little unpredictable and are often closed with a bottle cap to make sure the cork doesn’t pop off!
- Prosecco can be made with varying levels of residual sugar, producing ‘Dry’ prosecco (to accompany cheese or dessert, with the highest level of residual sugar), Extra Dry, Brut or even Brut Nature, with the lowest levels of residual sugar. Some ‘col fondo’ wines are made by allowing all of the sugar in the juice to ferment, leaving an intensely dry wine with zero residual sugar.