What’s all the fizz about?

prosecco 2
Marks and Spencers Zardetto Prosecco           £12.50 a bottle

Love it or loathe it, Prosecco sales have seen rocket propelled increases and been enjoying a worldwide renaissance in popularity.

Sales have grown by 74.6% over the past year with M & S revealing a staggering 268% surge in their figures!!

So what is all the fizz about? Prosecco is an affordable light, fruity (green apple, pear, peach, melon) and easy to drink dry or off-dry sparkler that’s typically only around 11% abv. It’s not complex and sometimes rather thin, slightly chemical tasting and sacchariney. It doesn’t benefit from ageing, therefore, its best-drunk young.

The ongoing Prosecco boom has of course been fuelled by the affordability and approachability of this wine,” says M&S Wine Buyer Dror Nativ. “But what is most interesting is the new trend for enjoying Prosecco as an everyday drink rather than solely on celebratory occasions.”

Where’s it from? Prosecco (DOC) can be made from grapes grown and wine made from 2 delimited regions only, albeit quite vast, Veneto and Friuli, in the north of Italy.

What’s it made with? The white Glera grape, formally called Prosecco, although prudently they changed the name to protect the integrity of the region.

prosecco cartizze
Cartizze indicates this is an exceptional vineyard site

Are their different qualities? Yes. The best Proseccos come from the Conegliano-Valdobbiadene DOCG, 2 towns located within the Veneto region on steep limestone hills north of Venice. Look out for these towns on the label as these have higher quality potential plus the terms Cartizze (see opposite) and Rive too as these indicate exceptional vineyards. Although these usually have a higher price point, you’ll be savouring an even greater quality level of Prosecco.

How’s Prosecco made? The vast majority are made by the tank method. Simply put, a sugary yeasty solution is added to a dry base wine in a sealed stainless steel tank where a second fermentation is carried out. The carbon dioxide (the gas given off during fermentation) is trapped creating the fizz, it’s then filtered and bottled under pressure. This method creates a fewer number of larger bubbles that have less persistence, so they can disappear pretty quickly unlike fizz made from the Traditional Method e.g. Champagne, Cava etc, which have a greater number of smaller bubbles with greater persistence.

What makes top Proseccos quality better? As mentioned, look out for the 2 key towns, Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, and the terms, Cartizze and Rive, as these ‘tip the nod’ that the grapes have been grown in the right ‘neck of the woods’. These producers are also more likely to have taken extra care when growing the grapes and producing the base wine.  They may even have used paddles during the second fermentation to stir the sediment promoting and increasing its contact with the wine for greater complexity.  Another pointer for better quality Proseccos are the words ‘Traditional Method’ on the label too, as this means they’ve not been made by the tank method, but the same method as Champagne and Cava.

prosecco bellini
Bellini cocktail created in homage to Giovanni Bellini the Italian renaissance painter

Cocktail recipe?  The Bellini was inspired and created by Guiseppe Cipriani of Harry’s Bar in Venice in honour of Giovanni Bellini the Italian renaissance painter.

  • Ingredients
    • 30ml of peach puree
    • 90ml of Prosecco
  • Instructions
    • Add the puree to a Champagne flute glass and top with well-chilled Prosecco.  Gently stir and serve immediately
    • Garnish the glass with a sliver of fresh peach

So, there you go that’s what all the fizz is about!!

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