The Prosecco Wine Guide


December 21, 2016 Blog » Learn About Wine » The Prosecco Wine Guide

Prosecco is Italy’s most popular sparkling wine. While it’s often compared to Champagne, it’s made with a different set of grapes and a different winemaking method. As you’ll soon discover, there’s more to Prosecco than affordable bubbles. Learn more about this fascinating sparkler including how to choose Prosecco, the different styles, the main winemaking region, Valdobbiadene, and what foods to pair with it.

“There’s more to Prosecco than affordable bubbles”

Prosecco Wine Information Sheet by Wine Folly

What is Prosecco?

Technically speaking, Prosecco is a sparkling wine that originates from the Valdobbiadene region in Veneto, Italy (although it’s also made in other parts of Italy including Friuli-Venezia Giulia). The wine is made with Prosecco grapes (aka Glera) and made into wine via the Charmat sparkling method, which gives wines approximately 3 atmospheres of pressure. This means Prosecco’s bubbles typically last longer than beer (which has approximately 1.5 atmospheres of pressure) and not usually as long as Champagne (5-6 atmospheres of pressure).

Prosecco Taste Is it sweet or dry?

Most Prosecco wines are produced in a dry, brut style. However, due to the grapes’ fruity flavors of green apple, honeydew melon, pear, and honeysuckle, it usually seems sweeter than it is. Even though brut is the most popular sweetness level of Prosecco sold in the market today, you can find styles that are sweeter if you seek them out. Here is how Prosecco is labeled for sweetness:

  • Brut 0–12 g/L RS (residual sugar) – Up to a half gram of sugar per glass
  • Extra Dry 12–17 g/L RS – Just over a half gram of sugar per glass
  • Dry 17–32 g/L RS – Up to 1 gram of sugar per glass

By the way, if you haven’t had an Extra Dry Prosecco yet, this style offers a great balance between Prosecco’s fruit, tingly acidity, and subtle sweetness.

How to Serve Prosecco

Prosecco wine in a glass and bottle photo by Wine Folly

Prosecco should be served cold (38–45 °F / 3–7 °C) and most will agree that the best glass to serve Prosecco in is a sparkling tulip glass. The tulip glass is ideal because it’s tall and slender, which helps preserves the bubbles’ finesse for a longer period of time, while the larger bulb at the top helps collect more of the wine’s floral aromas.

The Perfect Mimosa Wine

If you love a traditional brunch, Prosecco is our favorite pick for a perfect mimosa. The fruitiness in this wine amplifies the citrus flavors of the orange juice and it bodes well with brunchy-style foods. By the way, a great mimosa is 2 parts sparkling wine to 1 part juice.

Show me!Open sparkling wine without it exploding everywhere

Prosecco Food Pairing

prosecco-thai-food-stree-pad-thai-charles-haynes
Try Prosecco with Southeast Asian foods like Thai, Vietnamese, and Hong Kong style dishes. By Charles Haynes

Prosecco is surprisingly versatile and pairs well with a wide range of cuisine genres and dishes. It’s one of those wines that can be served as an aperitif (before food) but also works well alongside the main entrée. The ideology behind pairing Prosecco is to use it as a palate cleanser alongside medium-intensity foods (chicken, tofu, shrimp, or pork dishes). Because of its sweet aromatics and bubbles, Prosecco matches well with spicy curries and Southeast Asian fare such as Thai, Vietnamese, Hong Kong, and Singaporean cuisine.


Tips On Finding High-Quality Prosecco

Prosecco Wine Types Quality Pyramid
There are different quality levels of Prosecco, and some producers don’t even use the Prosecco name on their label.

The classification styles of Prosecco are marked on the bottle neck

The classification is visible on the bottle neck.

  • Prosecco DOC: The most common quality level of Prosecco which can be made in nine provinces spanning Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giuiflia regions.
  • Prosecco Conegliano Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG: Grapes are blended from a smaller, more focused growing area between Valdobbiadene and Conegliano in the hills. These hills are known to produce some of the most concentrated Prosecco wines.
  • Colli Asolani DOCG: Across the river from the Conegliano-Valdobbiadene region you can find another smaller hillside region producing excellent wines with the high quality standards. Wines are labeled Colli Asolani on the bottle.
  • Prosecco Conegliano Valdobbiadene Superiore Rive DOCG: Wines made from specific communes or vineyards within Conegliano-Valdobbiadene. There are 43 communes that can be labeled as such.
  • Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze DOCG: A micro region of just 265 acres just outside of Valdobbiadene (towards the West side) that’s commonly considered to be one of the finest terroirs for Prosecco in the world.

Where Prosecco is Made

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The best vineyards are located in the hills around Asolani and Valdobbiadene. by Elena Zamprogno

The Conegliano-Valdobbiandene region is a stunningly beautiful set of green hills covered with vineyards. It rains quite a lot here and as a result, the best vineyards are generally found on southern facing slopes with good drainage and gentle winds that dry the grapes out after their daily shower. Prosecco has been made in this area for around 300 years (although earlier styles were likely less bubbly).

If you’re interested in going (and have an adventurist streak), one of the highlights of the region is a fun-and-challenging cycling race called the Gran Fondo Prosecco which weaves up through the hills. Anyone can participate and you can celebrate your win with the region’s wine.


tank-charmat-sparkling-wine-cuvee-close-prosecco

Up Next: How is Prosecco Made?

Prosecco uses an ingenious process called the Charmat-Martinotti (tank) method which is faster and more efficient at producing sparkling wine than the Champagne method. Find out more about the different ways sparkling wine is made in:

Sparkling Winemaking Methods

Sources

Prosecco.it
Wine Folly Book


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By Madeline Puckette
I'm a certified wine geek with a passion for meeting people, travel, and delicious food. You often find me crawling around dank cellars or frolicking through vineyards. Find me at @WineFolly