Prosecco is a type of Italian sparkling wine that has become extremely popular in recent years. It is like the Italian counterpart of France's Champagne and Spain's Cava. However, there are a few differences in terms of the grapes used and the winemaking process.
This article will discuss the different types of Prosecco, describe their distinguishing features, and provide some general information about this delightful drink.
What is Prosecco?
Prosecco is from Northeast Italy that has grown in popularity all over the world. Improving production techniques has led to better bubbles and less residual sugar than before. This change means Prosecco can now showcase terroir and its style more readily on your tongue.
The dominant flavors in this wine include apple, honeysuckle, peach, melon, and pear, which create an exciting flavor profile for those who enjoy rich fruit hints!
In Prosecco, the main ingredient is a fruity white grape called Glera. In many cases, it also includes Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes used in Champagne. This means all three share some similarities while each retains its distinct flavor profile.
Just as any white wine is made, Prosecco can be created by crushing grapes, fermenting them into alcohol, and maturing the resulting liquid. However, to give it its famous carbonation, people must add a few extra steps. Producers use a process called the tank or Charmat Method.
This technique involves mixing wine with yeast and sugar in large pressurized tanks to trigger a second fermentation for up to 6 months, then filters out impurities. This method allows wines an elegant and delicate taste and consistency during the entire production process from start to finish.
What Makes Prosecco Different from other Sparkling Wines (i.e., Champagne, Cava, Rosé)?
Prosecco and Champagne are delightful beverages with a long history, but there is an interesting difference between the two. Prosecco's bubbles come from the Charmat method of second fermentation in stainless steel tanks.
At the same time, Champagne gets its fizz as part of the Méthode Champenoise process, which takes place inside bottles on wine lees for more complex flavors with less fruit flavor.
Cava is a traditional Spanish sparkling wine that was initially produced mainly in the Penedès region of Catalonia. Cava is a less expensive, dryer alternative to Prosecco. Cava often has flavors reminiscent of Champagne but does not have the same notes as brioche or biscuit, making it much more straightforward and subtle in flavor.
Cava has zesty citrus flavors. Its minerality and acidity make it racy but not as harsh as other wines like Champagne or Prosecco. Furthermore, it derives its bubbles from the traditional método champenoise.
Like Champagne’s, this process combines yeast and sugar with still base wines in bottles for fermentation. The production then continues by trapping carbon dioxide into an elegant beverage through secondary fermentation inside the bottle.
Prosecco and Rose have sparkling versions, but they differ in how they're made. Prosecco is predominantly made from Glera grapes (around 85%), with the remaining balance coming from Pinot Noir or other wine grape varieties such as Chardonnay. Sparkling rosé can be created using various types of grapes grown in many regions around the globe.
The world is full of sparkling rosés, with each region having its distinct characteristics. The art of crafting rose sparkling wine is a delicate process that hinges on the balance between sugar and yeast. These ingredients will result in alcohol and carbon dioxide gas, which cannot escape from its container after fermentation occurs in an enclosed environment.
The process of fermenting wine in a closed or sealed environment has many effects on the final product. The carbon dioxide produced during fermentation will be released as tiny bubbles, only to return when you open it up for consumption. Different countries have their take on how this should be done and what qualities they want from their beverages.
The Three Prosecco Types
Spumante, more colloquially known as Sparkling Wine in English, is an Italian classification of wine that can be produced anywhere in Italy with any grape variety. This means that if you grow and make your grapes in Italy, then you can put the word on your label as well - even without a specific region or fermentation process.
The two production methods are the Classic Champenoise Method and Charmat Method that both produce fine wines. They can be grouped according to residual sugar or sweetness.
- Brut Nature - Between 0-3 g/l
- Extra Brut - Between 0-6 g/l
- Brut - Less than 12 g/l
- Extra Dry - Between 12-17 g/l
- Dry - Between 17-32 g/l
Demi-Sec - Between 32-50 g/l
A Frizzante Prosecco, also known as semi-sparkling, is a type of wine that has fewer bubbles than fully sparkling wines. The bottles are sealed with the cork and string method, which comes from Italy’s traditional technique to make it more easily drinkable without spilling out any liquid.
Frizzante has less carbon dioxide and is made by interrupting the fermentation process early on to prevent them from fully sparkling.
Prosecco also comes as a Tranquillo, a still wine that skips its final step of capturing carbon dioxide in the liquid during fermentation, thus diminishing all the bubbles.
The Tranquillo style aims to show the base wine another way, much like Champagne's Coteaux Champenois. The still wines of both areas are a chance to showcase their styles innovatively and creatively, reinforcing regional identity.
Different Quality Levels of Prosecco
French wine labels contain helpful information about the drink. Take a look at Champagne bottle labels, for example. Prosecco displays the classification of quality on its label, based on the area or region where it is produced. It can be DOC (Denomination of controlled origin) or DOCG (Denomination of controlled origin). These are further categorized into the following:
Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze DOCG
Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) is a region of just 265 acres, located outside and on the west side of Valdobbiadene. This area is one of Europe's most prestigious terroirs for Prosecco producers to harvest grapes.
The production area for this wine encompasses 107 hectares and can be found in Santo Stefano, Saccol, and San Pietro de Barbozza, with vines growing on steep hillsides, which help give it its distinct quality.
Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Rive DOCG
The Prosecco Conegliano Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG produces higher quality Prosecco. This region has many different subzones, all of which have their characteristics and wine styles. The top tier zone includes the commune Cartizze to produce wines with more complexity than other zones can offer.
Interestingly, there are now official 15 Rive delimitations within Conegliano Valdobbiadene where specific grapes originate from hills outside of those specified for one particular coltura (or vineyard). This highlights how diverse and unique these regions genuinely are!
Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG
Between the hills of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene is the home to a wine valued above anything else in Italy. With only 15 municipalities, all between 50-500 meters high, this drink has taken some time to take hold worldwide.
There was no turning back after achieving "Guaranteed Quality" status from their DOC title in 2009. People were eager enough about Prosecco's ability as an affordable luxury that they began buying cases by bulk orders anywhere. This level is sometimes merged in the pyramid with the next one.
Asolo Prosecco DOCG
Asolo Prosecco Superiore DOCG is smaller, more exclusive, and produces a broader range of styles. Prosecco DOC has been grown on low-lying plains in an extended area covering 23,300 hectares.
On the other hand, the DOCG Prosecco Superiore is far more exclusive and can only grow at hillside vineyards located within two smaller areas totaling 6,860 hectares for Conegliano Valdobbiadene and 1,783 for Asolo.
Prosecco DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) is the most common kind and usually has a good quality. The production area is in northeast Italy, in the Veneto and Friuli provinces, to be specific. The climate of these areas helps grapes grow with a mild temperature and rain to soak into their root system for proper growth.
Prosecco has an alluvial soil that provides it with minerals necessary for its production processes, such as nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus, which give them some distinctive flavors from other white wines or light-colored wines due to this mineral makeup.
Various Types of Prosecco FAQ
How to serve Prosecco?
Prosecco is a light, fruity wine that opens up with an aroma of flowers and peach. If you want to appreciate its flavor fully, it's best to drink the Prosecco between 18-24 months after harvest time. Serve it chilled at 43-47 degrees Fahrenheit for the best experience.
Glasses can be tricky, but one way to ensure the right glass for your wine drinking experience is by using a tulip. This large-based stemmed glass allows you to appreciate the strength of aromas in this wine and enjoy its taste even more than before.
The Champagne flute, on the other hand, cannot do that. Small openings at both ends restrict how strong these fragrances are released into their environment, which ultimately reduces any enjoyment they would have provided.
What temperature should I store Prosecco in?
If you're looking for the perfect wine to go with a special dinner, then look no further than Prosecco! But there's nothing worse than opening your bottle and finding it has gone flat. Luckily storing this delicious drink in an upright position will keep it fresh until the big moment arrives.
You'll want to store it at 50-59 degrees Fahrenheit, away from any light or heat sources that could cause spoilage of its flavor, while making sure not to set anything else on top so as not to crush those precious bubbles!
What food pairings go well with Prosecco?
Prosecco is a perfect drink to pair with a variety of foods. It's light, flavorful, and affordable! Try it in any seafood or savory cheese pairing. It's also a match for cured meats, desserts, and fruits! Here are other dishes you can pair with Prosecco for your next dinner:
- Seafood pasta
- Pan-seared scallops
- Crab cakes
- Chicken in a cream sauce
- Shrimp fried rice
- Parmesan risotto
- Crispy duck breast
- Pasta in cream sauce
Is Prosecco dry or sweet?
There are seven ways to produce Prosecco - bone dry, very dry, dry, medium-dry, medium-sweet, sweet, and very sweet.
Is Prosecco better for you than wine?
The idea that Prosecco is calorie-friendly may surprise some people, but it’s true. The typical glass of wine has about 60 more calories than the average bottle of Prosecco because the former usually contains a higher alcohol percentage.
You might be surprised by this next fact: Prosecco offers lower-calorie alternatives than Champagnes, so if you want something light yet still delicious, then choose your go-to drink wisely before heading out on date night!
When you're looking for a bubbly and fresh drink to celebrate something, give Prosecco a try! It is a beverage of its own, with unique flavor profiles and looks to offer. Although it's compared to Champagne a lot, people should recognize its different types and appreciate its fantastic qualities because they are worth it.
What is your favorite Prosecco? We'll be happy to hear your thoughts in the comments.