Erin Doman on January 20, 2016 0 Comments We know that Champagne is from France and Prosecco is from Italy, but what else differentiates these two sparkling wines? Often overshadowed by its much more popular cousin, Prosecco often does not always get the proper credit. However, this complex wine style is gaining popularity and quickly becoming a staple during our holiday events and meals. Learning about Prosecco wine and what foods it goes with will allow you to create a solid pairing that will impress any guests you invite to a meal. Understanding the complexities of Prosecco can also help you enjoy this unique wine style when you pour yourself a glass. In order to become more familiar with this particular wine, you have to take a look at its history, how it’s made and what food it goes well with. Below we have constructed a basic guide to get you started: Are You Drinking the Best Prosecco? History of Prosecco When the Romans started expanding their empire in ancient history, they colonized what is now Trieste. This Italian town is on the Adriatic coast near the Karst Plateau and Slovenia’s border. Around 200 BC, the Romans moved in and started the first grapevines in the area. The name Prosecco comes from an ancient village that was in this area. In the 1700s, this wine variation grew in popularity. Producers were able to export to the surrounding Germanic countries and to Venice. Today, the wine is still popular and has been protected since 2009. The protection is supposed to ensure that the wine is of a high quality. Many experts hypothesize that this wine has remained so popular because of its unique sparkling qualities and the fact that it is often cheaper than Champagne. Before 2009, Prosecco was both a wine and a grape. Since then, the white grape has been rebranded as “Glera”, and any wines made outside of the official Prosecco region must go by the name Glera. Officially, Prosecco is now only produced in northeastern Italy in the Veneto and Fruili-Venezia Giulia regions. These regions sit between the Adriatic Sea and the Dolomite mountain range. The mild climate along with the combination of limestone, marl, marine sandstone and clay soils makes this area a very good place to grow the Glera grape. The Prosecco zone is actually split into two smaller zones. The DOCG zone can be found in the hills around Cartizze, Conegliano Valdobbiadene and Il Rive. The wine produced in this area undergoes stricter laws and regulations to ensure that the highest quality of Prosecco is produced. Both the DOC and the DOCG zones regulate the quality of wine that is produced, which is why wine from any other region cannot use the name Prosecco. Production & Fermentation In order to make a wine sparkling, it has to undergo two different fermentation stages. Typically, Champagne goes through its second fermentation in the bottle, but the process is a little different for Prosecco. Prosecco wine traditionally completes its second fermentation in a steel vat. The method of fermentation is one of the reasons why Prosecco is cheaper than Champagne. The Charmat, or Italian, method of producing Prosecco goes something like this: Harvest: The Glera grapes are harvested as are a few other variations. In order to be considered a Prosecco, the wine has to be at least 85% Glera. This means that the other 15% can be other grapes such as Perera, Bianchetta, Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio. Normally the Glera grapes are turned into wine before other types of wine are added. Juicing: The grapes are taken to the winery where they are juiced. A special machine gently presses the grapes to ensure that only the juice from the center of the grape is harvested. Chilling: This juice settles in a stainless-steel tank for 10 to 12 hours. It has to be kept quite cold. Primary Fermentation: Once the juice is less cloudy, yeast is added to start the fermentation. The temperature is raised slightly, and the juice ferments for about 20 days. Combination: After the first fermentation is when other wine varieties are added to the Prosecco. Secondary Fermentation: The blended wine is then put into a pressurized, stainless-steel tank with more yeast and some sugar. During the secondary fermentation is when the Prosecco gains its bubbly quality. This process lasts about a month. Filtration: The yeast is filtered out, and the wine is bottled, thus completing the process of Prosecco production. Like Champagne, Prosecco can be produced in the traditional method, which sees the second fermentation in the bottle, but this method necessitates more labor and time. Most producers of Prosecco use the method discussed above. The Best Food Pairings For Prosecco Once it has been bottled, Prosecco has about a 24-month time period to be consumed. The reason it is suggested to drink it while it is so young is because it ensures that the sparkling wine will have the characteristic sweet and fruity taste. This wine style simply does not hold onto its unique qualities if it is aged. If you don’t plan on drinking your Prosecco right when you buy it, you should store it in a wine fridge or cool, dark room. The bottle should be stored upright in order to be preserved the longest. Before you drink it, Prosecco should be chilled. There’s a special glass for this wine as well. It is tulip shaped, and gives a better environment to enjoy the taste and aroma. Prosecco goes with a wide variety of foods. You can drink it on its own, during a meal or at dessert. A few suggested food pairings are: Smoked-Salmon Chicken Artichoke Hearts Prosciutto Dark Chocolate Strawberries Nutty Risottos Cheese Asparagus Lychees in Coconut Milk Salami Sushi Shellfish and Seafood Treviso Radicchio Rhubarb Tart Anchovies Duck Veal Linguine with Sage and Butter Sardines Porcini Mushrooms Lemon Meringue Prosecco is unique in that it can be paired with many dishes that are otherwise quite complicated to match a wine to. If you are stuck trying to find the perfect wine to serve with a dish of fresh sushi or a side of asparagus, Prosecco can be a safe choice. Taste and Style Prosecco wine offers a traditionally crisp but occasionally sweet flavor. The flavor, of course, depends on the exact blend. You can find three main styles of Prosecco: Brut (less than 12 grams of sugar/liter): Prosecco Brut is a common international export. It is known for its citrus fragrance and lively taste. This style is often served before or after a meal, but can be used during meals that serve fish or vegetable dishes. Extra Dry (between 12 and 17 grams of sugar/liter): Prosecco Extra Dry is a traditional style with hints of pear, citrus and apple with floral tones. This style is often served before and after meals and with soups, pastas, white meat and creamy white cheeses. Dry (between 17 and 32 grams of sugar/liter): This dry drink is the least common Prosecco. Prosecco Dry has notes of green apple, citrus and peaches. This variation works best with spicy dishes and dry pastries. If you enjoy the dryness of Champagne but want a cheaper option, Dry Prosecco is a good option for you This bubbly wine goes well with many different dishes, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble trying to properly pair it with something. Of course, all of these different styles are also perfect on their own. Why You Should Give Prosecco A Try If you are looking for a bubbly and festive beverage but are looking to break away from the expense and predictability of Champagne, you should try Prosecco wine for a change. This complex wine pairs well with a wide variety of foods that are otherwise a challenge to pair. Its versatility is part of what makes Prosecco so unique and what is helping it gain so much popularity.