Pass the Prosecco
Whilst Champagne is the usually the bubbles of choice on board luxury yachts, we have seen a rise in Prosecco orders the past few seasons. Even outside the yachting industry, Prosecco has been booming worldwide, with sales growing 30% worldwide in 2014. So what is all the hype about and how does Prosecco differ to Champagne?
Prosecco comes from the beautiful rolling hills of Veneto in Italy, near Valdobbiadene (pronounced Val-dob-ee-ah-den-ay) and Conegliano. It uses mostly the grape variety called Glera, and sometimes smaller amounts of other local grapes. It’s very fruity, often with hints of flowers, apples and pears. It has a lovely freshness with just a touch of sweetness which makes it very soft and easy-drinking. This approachable style of sparkling wine, as well as the slightly cheaper price-tag has encouraged many to drink sparkling wine as an everyday drink rather than just for celebrations.
Prosecco differs in taste to Champagne quite considerably, for a number of reasons including the grapes used, the region it comes from and most importantly the way it is made. Champagne is made using the traditional method, which involves having the second fermentation inside the bottle and then ageing the wine on its lees (dead yeast) for a long time. This gives the wine flavours we call ‘autolytic’ such as toast, bread, brioche and pastry.
Prosecco is made slightly differently. Firstly a still base wine is made, then the wine undergoes its second fermentation in a pressurized tank. The yeast is then filtered out, so it doesn’t experience yeast ageing, meaning you just get all the fresh fruity flavours from the grape. This is also a reason it is much cheaper than Champagne, because less time and ageing is required. It is important to know also that Prosecco should be drunk young and fresh, so if you have any Prosecco from last season make sure it gets drunk this year.
Depending on where the grapes are sourced will depend on the labelling term and quality of the Prosecco you get:
Prosecco DOC – This is the most basic appellation for Prosecco and means the grapes come from the flatter land around Treviso and Trieste.
Prosecco Superiore DOCG – This is a better appellation as the grapes come the homeland of Prosecco, around the towns of Conegliano and Valdobiadene. Here the steeper slopes and altitude help produce better quality grapes with more concentrated flavours that last longer on the palate.
Prosecco Superiore di Cartizze DOCG or Prosecco Superiore di Rive DOCG – Cartize and Rive are the names of two hills that produce some of the very finest and most expensive Prosecco. Here there are much stricter rules around how it is made to ensure very high quality, creating much more complexity and richness on the palate. This is the equivelant of 'Grand Cru' status in France.
Here are some other terms you might come across on a Prosecco bottle:
Sweetness in Prosecco is a result of residual sugar – sugar left over after fermentation. From driest to sweetest, the labelling terms go Brut Nature, Extra Brut, Brut, Extra Dry, Dry, Demi-sec and Doux. Most Prosecco will be either Brut or Extra Dry.
- Spumante - means fully sparkling
- Frizzante - means lightly sparkling