Italians, a population of saints, poets and navigators. But amidst the seas of Prosecco DOC bubbles, it is easy for even the most experienced readers of Italian Genius on wine-nautical charts to lose their bearings and be misled by the seductive songs of the sirens of libations, clouding their judgement, mixing up their knowledge without following any clear logic. But even just starting to choose a bottle of Prosecco DOC from the shelves of our favourite wine shop or from those of the best supermarket in the area, following our instinct, reading the label or relying on the recommendations of an expert, means becoming aware that you are taking the first decisive physical step in a precise tasting ritual, made up of lots of little moments, crucial and indispensable to the pleasure of the final (or first, depending on your point of view) sip. And here the most virtuous and influential of Dante Alighieri's quotations must be adopted: You were not made to live as brutes, but to follow virtue and knowledge. Even in the realm of things to know about Prosecco DOC, which might look simple but is actually fraught with subtle and unique peculiarities.
What exactly is Prosecco DOC?
Prosecco DOC is a white wine with a Denominazione di Origine Controllata (Controlled Designation of Origin) that can only be recognised if it is made in the north-eastern part of Italy, between the Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia regions, in a total of nine provinces: four in FVG -Gorizia, Trieste, Udine and Pordenone- and five in Veneto -Belluno, Padua, Treviso, Venice, Vicenza-, which embrace the gentle curve overlooking the Adriatic Sea. Prosecco DOC is made from Glera grapes, a white grape variety with long bunches and softly golden berries, native to the Prosecco DOC areas, accounting for at least 85% of the total grapes selected. The special tying and topping carried out on the Glera vines allows the fullest concentration of the aromas, so that the berries are intensely fragrant and can release the most sensual and mysterious scents during fermentation. The remaining 15% can be made up of various types of grape, such as Verdiso, Bianchetta Trevigiana, Perera, Glera lunga, the much-loved and extremely versatile Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio and, more recently, a blend with Pinot Noir vinified off skins has become very popular. However, most of the work is naturally done by the autochthonous (or native) Glera, the finest expression of the terroir. There are also two special DOCs that can only refer to white wines made from grapes grown, harvested, vinified and bottled in the provinces of Treviso and Trieste, and these are Prosecco DOC Treviso and Prosecco DOC Trieste respectively. True connoisseurs of Prosecco DOC know that it is worth tasting them to capture the wonderful affinities that unite two cities and two territories that are only geographically distant.
How many types of Prosecco DOC are there and what are the differences?
In its sparkling, apparent simplicity as a democratic wine, loved by all and dynamically versatile (for cooking, celebratory toasts and enhancing cocktails), Prosecco DOC actually hides little subtleties that highlight the differences. And they define the three different types, all of which are highly esteemed and appreciated to varying degrees: Spumante, Frizzante, Tranquillo. The first, Prosecco DOC Spumante, is the most famous and widely used without ever being ostentatious, perfect for every moment of the day and your life. It is recognised by its very fine, light and persistent perlage. Depending on the sugar content (from 0 to a maximum of 50 g/litre), it can be Brut Nature, Extra Brut, Brut, Extra Dry, Dry or Demi-Sec, and it is precisely because of this wide range of sugar contents that it pairs so well with a wide variety of dishes, whether it is with olives, taralli or fried baby octopus, a full dinner or a quick lunch. Prosecco DOC Frizzante has lots of bubbles and just as much personality, with its straw yellow colour and dry or semi-dry flavour, more delicate but at the same time very exuberant. Prosecco DOC Tranquillo has no bubbles but all the authenticity of a white wine. It is less common on the market but definitely worth trying in this delicate variant. Imported since the 1800s and perfected over the centuries, it is also worth rediscovering Prosecco DOC made using the bottle fermentation technique, which creates volcanic bottles with a captivating palate.
How do you choose the best Prosecco DOC?
The creation of the production regulations made it possible to fully protect the DOC, which must comply rigorously with certain characteristics, also with regard to sales. The labels bear the government seal with the letters DOC in blue ink, printed with anti-counterfeiting systems, which seals the bottle to prevent falsification: an opened bottle of Prosecco DOC is “inactivated”, and cannot be filled, resealed and passed off as authentic. New technologies assign QR codes to the bottles which, when scanned, communicate the authenticity of the wine chosen on your smartphone. In compliance with legislation, the talking label must bear the logo, the wording Prosecco DOC and the certification of origin explicitly stating Italia - Product of Italy.
How do you serve Prosecco DOC?
Have you ever tried drinking a warm sparkling wine, or even simply one that is at room temperature? You really don’t want to. There are less painful ways of atoning for your sins. And Prosecco DOC, the celebrated progenitor of Italian-style perlage, follows the golden rule of chilling which makes it more enjoyable to drink. This is how to serve Prosecco DOC: chilled, straight from the fridge, unlike pasta or any other food... brrr. So grab a thermometer: 6-8 degrees maximum, the colder the better, because it will tend to warm up in any environment anyway, and a well-chilled ice buckets to hold the bottle, which must be plunged into ice at least to the start of the neck.
How do you store Prosecco DOC?
Unlike those who like to meditate while sipping full-bodied, structured and well-aged reds, Prosecco DOC lovers are not people who dwell on things for long. Translated into practical terms: Prosecco DOC is not a wine to be stored. It is extemporary, cheerful, immediate, in a certain sense delicately ephemeral: an invitation to seize the moment. This is why it should preferably be consumed within the year following harvest, while it is at its aromatic and carbonic best. Ready to pop the cork with the perfect energy for every little moment of joy in your day-to-day life.
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