Prosecco is enjoying some unprecedented boom times at the moment. In 2016, for the first time in history, the sparkling Italian wine surpassed Champagne for the first time in history.
Honestly, I’m not surprised. Champagne has grown more and more expensive over the last several years – partly because of demand, but also because the effects of climate change have taken a toll. This year’s harvest, because of weather, may be one of the lowest-yielding on record.
Prosecco, long a favorite at the world’s brunch tables, has ridden its flexible, fruity nature into the world of mixology in the new world of Millennial drinking. With its lower price point, bartenders have turned to Prosecco not only as an aperitif, but as the backbone of many cocktails. Good Prosecco can also be had for about half the price of grower Champagne, so that adds to the appeal.
As background, Prosecco refers to the region of northeast Italy just north of Venice. Prosecco is a subregion of the larger Veneto district. Prosecco also used to be the name of the primary grape that comprises the wine. In 2009, the grape’s name was changed – or more accurately, changed back – to its original Slovenian name, Glera. The name change was to prevent the region’s growers from making wine from other varietals and marketing it under the “Prosecco” umbrella.
Prosecco also differs from Champagne in that it is carbonated in a different manner. This method, called Metodo Italiano or the “Charmat Method,” is a less expensive, less time-consuming carbonation method than the tried-and-true Methode Champenoise. In the Charmat Method, rather than being carbonated in bottles, the wine undergoes this secondary fermentation in steel tanks, which are sometimes coated in enamel. The wine is bottled under pressure in a continuous process.
Prosecco is an incredibly flexible food wine, and is an excellent choice for many holiday events – be they social gatherings or dinner parties. I sampled a couple of Prosecco from the town of Treviso recently. My thoughts:
Ruggeri (NV) Prosecco Treviso Brut – To be honest, I didn’t get much of a nose to speak of from this sparkler initially, but the flavors kick in once you get a mouthful. Golden apple and peach flavors are quite pronounced. A nice tight perlage (WineSpeak for “quality of bubbles”) that crisply sparkle through a finish of peach nectar and lemon rind. Very refreshing. Would cut through a lot of rich foods, whether cheeses or white sauces. Would be lovely also with shellfish. $16-20.
Santome (NV) Prosecco Treviso Extra Dry – Peaches again, this time backed with tart apples. The undertone of sweetness associated with an Extra Dry designation is certainly in effect here, but that sweetness fades quickly into an aftertaste that I honestly found a little unpleasant. I thought it was quite sharp, and that flavor masked the slight crisp sweetness that was there in the background. I didn’t much care for it on its own. With food, however, it was certainly acceptable. I had it with a roasted red pepper soup and chicken sandwich combo that I put together, and it was a decent accompaniment. $14-16.