I’m often wary of Prosecco served at parties as it can be too sweet and fizzy so I wanted to find out how to choose a good Prosecco. Do you think of Prosecco as cheaper and perhaps lower quality version of champagne? It is often cheaper but it is not designed to ape champagne. Of course, it is a sparkling wine but it is made using a different method and grape. Champagne comes from a specific region in Northern France and Prosecco is made in North Eastern Italy. Champagne makers use only Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meurnier grapes grown the Champagne appellation. Prosecco makers use the Glera grape. I think of Prosecco as something entirely different from champagne.
However, not every bottle of Prosecco is the same. The variation in cost reflects a variation in quality. What you choose will also depend on how you are going to drink your Prosecco. Will you be using it as a mixer? Are you going to be drinking it as an aperitif or pairing it with food? As, with every wine, there are poor examples there is also plenty of great Prosecco out there. There is more to Prosecco than just affordable bubbles and I’ve been learning how to choose the best. Here are some tips.
How Prosecco is Made
Champagne makers use the traditional method which involves a second fermentation in the bottle. However, Prosecco is made using the tank or Charmat method. This allows for the production of a sparkling wine that retains the flavour of the base wine. Therefore it is ideal for a fruity wine like Prosecco. It is also faster and less labour intensive than the traditional method resulting in wines that are more affordable.
Initially the wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks to retain the pure fruit and floral flavours of the grapes. Yeast and sugar are added and then a second fermentation takes place in a sealed tank. The yeast consumes the sugar and as it ferments Carbon Dioxide is released. The gas has nowhere to go in the pressurised container and so the wine become carbonated. The wine improves the longer it is kept in the tank, the bubbles become finer and aromas are preserved. Finally, the wine is filtered and then bottled under pressure.
Different Quality Levels
Winemakers use the label on the neck of the Prosecco bottle to indicate quality and where the wine is produced. The most common Prosecco is labelled DOC. DOC stands for Controlled Destination of Origin. These wines can come from anywhere within Veneto and Fruili Venezia Giulia. A lot supermarket Prosecco will be of this type.
Wines labelled Prosecco Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG will be of a better quality. These grapes come from a smaller, more focussed wine growing area between the two towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene. The vineyards are situated on steep limestone hills. These wines will be more concentrated then straightforward Prosecco. Across the river from Conegliano Valdobbiadene is Asolo, an even smaller hillside region producing high quality wines. These wines will be labelled Asolo Prosecco Superiore DOCG.
If you see the term Cartizze or Rive on the bottle it indicates a wine from an exceptional vineyard site. These are the Grand Cru of Prosecco. Only the best vineyards on the best sites of the region qualify and the grapes here are harvested by hand. These wines will tend to cost more.
The first thing that you usually look at when you pick up bottle of wine is the main label. You will see the winemaker’s details and probably the vintage and with Prosecco a key bit of information is how dry or sweet the wine will be. You might not be able to spot this on the front bottle. Take a look at the label on the back as well. You are looking for the term Brut which means the wine will be dry, with Brut Nature and Extra Brut being the driest. If you see wine labelled Dry or Extra Dry it will be a sweeter wine. I find this labelling confusing and have been caught out in the past.
A lot of Prosecco is produced in the Brut style. However, with the fruity, floral flavours of apple, melon and honeysuckle can make the wine seem sweeter. Try a few different styles and see which you prefer.
Which Foods to Pair Prosecco With
You want to choose a good Prosecco for whatever you are planning to serve it with. Maybe you think of Prosecco as just an aperitif but it actually pairs very well with food. Prosecco doesn’t have the buttery biscuit flavours which are present present in good champagne. It is all about the fruit. Try it with seafood and also with spicy South Asian dishes. The sharp fruity flavour and high acidity work well with fried foods making a glass of Prosecco the perfect accompaniment to brunch.
What Should You Look for When Buying Prosecco
You need to check both labels, not just the main label but also the label on the neck of the bottle. Remember to look for the word Brut rather than Dry if you don’t want your Prosecco to be too sweet.
Try a Prosecco from a wine merchant rather than just grabbing a bottle at the supermarket. You are more likely to find a higher quality wine there. If you compare two or more varieties as part of tasting you’ll begin to notice variations in quality between different wines. Look for clearly defined fresh fruit flavours such as apple, citrus and pear in a good Prosecco. In the best Prosecco you might also find the flavours of almond and biscuits that are present in champagne. You will also notice more complexity and finer bubbles.
Keeping Your Prosecco Perfectly
You can use all our great champagne gadgets with Prosecco including the fabulous AdHoc Champagne Stopper. Are you planning on taking Prosecco for a picnic? Then why not invest in some GoVino Shatterproof Champagne Flutes. They are designed to look and feel as if you are drinking out of crystal.