The versatility of Prosecco
It’s 6 pm, Aperitivo hour and we are in the throes of a heatwave, so what could be better than kicking off the evening with a chilled glass of prosecco(or two!). I was delighted to be invited to take part in a virtual Prosecco DOC tasting hosted by The Wine Tipster Neil Phillips to find more about this popular tipple and how just how versatile it can be.
Prosecco has an uncomplicated, fresh light and fruity style. It’s less complex and a little sweeter and smoother than Cava or Champagne with bigger loser bubbles, buoyant floral flavours and refreshing simplicity. With its bright fizz and moderate alcoholic strength, it’s perfect for celebrations, parties and nights out. But it also works remarkably well alongside food which I discovered on our tasting evening as we paired each bottle of Prosecco with different cuisine. Of course, naturally, it goes very well with traditional Italian dishes, but its versatile character matches perfectly to explore new culinary horizons of the international cuisine.
Prosecco drinking is certainly not new, it can be traced back to Roman times “Ed or ora immolarmi voglio il becco con quel meloaromatico Prosecco” (And just now I wish to sacrifice my mouth to that apple-aromatic Prosecco), said Aureliano Acanti in his “Roccolo Ditirambo” in 1754, but it was in the late nineteenth century that Prosecco first underwent secondary fermentation to become the sparkling wine that we all know today.
Prosecco DOC is one of Italy’s most famous wines, it has become hugely popular, not only in Italy but all over the world and in 2019 they produced 486 million bottles!
Prosecco is made from the Glera grape, a white grape that originated in North-East of Italy. It’s a rather neutral grape variety, which means the flavours it produces are quite light. Prosecco DOC has no history of producing rose wines, however recently a new law was passed enabling the production of a sparkling rose which will blend Glera and Pinot Noir together, this new rose Prosecco will be available to buy in early 2021.
Most Prosecco wines are produced in the northeast corner of Italy, in Venice and Treviso, lying between the Dolomites and the Adriatic Sea. Prosecco DOC is unique because of a particular interaction between climate, soil and winemaking tradition.
Prosecco is produced differently to champagne, as the secondary fermentation takes place in large stainless-steel tanks rather than in the individual bottle, which makes it less expensive to produce. The wine is commonly filtered through egg whites although there has been a considerable change over recent years and a lot of new producers are making vegan and organic varieties.
The sparkling varieties make up for most (83.58%) the Prosecco DOC market, Brut (being the driest): 29.8%, Extra Dry (the most popular): 65%, Dry:4.9% and Demi-sec:0.3%. Although they also produce a semi-sparkling and still wine. It important to be able to recognize the real Prosecco DOC, Neil explained that this can be done by identifying Prosecco DOC on the label, the State Mark and seal, and of course that it is made in Italy.
We started the evening with a glass of Torresella. This was an Extra Dry wine, crisp, fresh and perky with citrus character, floral notes and good acidity and a lovely finish. This was paired with Grand Padano cheese, which made a great combination… the nutty and rugged flavours and texture of the cheese worked harmoniously with the delicious Prosecco.
Next was Masottina, a Brut vegan wine, fresh, bright and elegant with a lovely floral characteristic. This paired very well with slices of creamy avocado
The Montelvini was also a Brut wine from Treviso, made by family producers. It was fresh and crisp sweet with honey notes and good bubbles. We ate this with sushi which was a surprisingly excellent match.
Last but not least was the Cabert, a nicely balanced blend of fresh green apples and pears with small effervescent bubbles, we drank this alongside a pizza, and it stood up to the strong favours marvellously.
Top tip from Neil was that a bottle of Prosecco should always look fresh and bright, if a wine looks dull it may be off.
I really enjoyed Neil’s tasting evening; it was great to have the opportunity to sample such a good variety of different Proseccos whilst also enjoying a selection of food. I definitely prefer the bright, dry crisp citrus wines, I think the Torresella was my favourite of the night. It also made me realise that Prosecco is not just for parties and celebrations, it’s a great drink for less formal settings, who would have thought takeaway pizza and sushi could work so well with a bottle of Prosecco? Or a perfect pairing with those aperitif nibbles…Italian cheese and creamy avocado, or whatever you fancy, Prosecco has it covered.