A journey into the bubble we all love and cherish: Prosecco Doc.
Prosecco is one of the most worldwide consumed sparkling wines, and it comes with no surprise. It is perfect for aperitivo, it is so easy to pair with food, to be drank alone in peace. Prosecco has become so popular that last year producers even sparked concerns of a global shortage! The Horror!
Useless to try to describe what a sad life ours (and yours) would be without Prosecco, but very useful instead to discover a few tidbits about the bubbly that is slowly rewriting the history of Italian viticulture.
Sit back and relax as we begin this journey into the lands of the world's most beloved Italian sparkling wine, and why not, in the meantime we recommend a nice chilled glass of Prosecco DOC so you can totally immerse yourself in this tale.
’Twas a lovely day in a county in Friuli Venezia Giulia.
Its 500 something in Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy as we know it and love it today didn’t exist yet, but its climate was already amazing, so was its biodiversity.
The Romans, bananas for our beloved wine called Pucino at the time, even though it was a dry white wine then, (castellum nobile vino Pucinum), wrote poems and sonnets as did for example by Pilino il vecchio, and it was the favourite wine of empress Livia (emperor Augustus’ wife).
Prosecco DOC, a wine we have come to love, began to be produced in the modern way only in the nineteenth century, making it one of our greatest oenological "discoveries." Its name comes from the little town close to Trieste where the white variety of grapes, called Glera are cultivated.
The Prosecco DOC, or “Denominazione di Origine Controllata,” is the broadest geographic area where Prosecco can be produced. DOC can be translated to “Controlled Designation of Origin” and it is an epitome of Italian quality. The designation ensures that the bottle of wine in your hands is guaranteed to come from this area only and that it was made following specific winemaking practices and standards.
To go further in depth you will be able to find Prosecco coming from different provinces which are specialised in the production of the sparkling wine: in Veneto Venice, Vicenza, Padua, Belluno and Treviso; and in Friuli Venezia Giulia you can have prosecco DOC produced in the cities of Trieste, Udine, Gorizia and Pordenone.
But what is Prosecco you ask?
To put it easily, Prosecco is a sparkling wine mainly produced with Glera grapes in two Italian regions as stated above: Veneto and Friul Venezia Giulia.
It can only be produced within a specific geographic border in this part of Italy as we stated before.
The glera grapes make it that the main aromas in Prosecco are white fruits and flowers, typical of the varietal. The perlage in Prosecco is delicate and elegant bubbles. You’ll find in your studies (yes that indeed means drinking plenty of sparkling wine) that good quality Prosecco can offer scents that reminisce of hazelnut, vanilla, banana, honeycomb, tropical fruit and cream.
Wines produced through the Martinotti method take a shorter time to produce.
That been said, you might believe that one method is superior to the other, not necessarily, it just makes for two very different type of wines. The Martinotti method produces a lighter, fresher, younger wine designed to be enjoyed in lightness. In fact, Prosecco is not meant to "age" it is a ready-to-drink wine, to be drunk in a couple of years.
We have spoken a lot about methods, but what do they mean, how do make a dry white wine into Prosecco?
As we said a few lines above, the method that is used to produce Prosecco involves the use of autoclaves and is called Charmat-Martinotti. This method is different from "Méthode Champenoise" which is the method of producing Champagne, also called Metodo Classico.
In this quick bullet point are the steps for Prosecco production:
- First starts the grape harvest, at the time when there is perfect balance between sugar and acid component.
- You would then gently press the grapes to produce a juice, clear and crisp.
- Once you have your beautiful “juice” you would place it in a tank, normally made of stainless steel, for a maximum of ten days. This process, the first fermentation, will produce a still white wine.
- This is the step where bubbles come from: you would transfer the “base wine” we have made, adding sugar and selected yeasts to the base wine and moving the whole ordeal in a sealed and pressurised stainless-steel tank, also known as “autoclave”. The wine will stay there for a range of time that goes from minimum 30 days (60 for Prosecco Rosé) to 6 months. What happens during that time, the second natural fermentation, is simplicity at its best, with a sprinkle of magic, the sugar and the yeast in the concoction will produce Co2 during the fermentation process, simply because sugar becomes alcohol, the bubbles have nowhere to run to and remain trapped in the wine, again because we had trapped and sealed them in an autoclave.
- After the second fermentation has finished, the wine will have to be filtered to remove any residual yeast or sediment.
- A special bottling machine assures that the same amount of pressure that was in the tank goes for any single bottle.
- Last but not least, labelling
Now that the more studious part has gone by, let's get down and dirty: What food do I pair with my bottle of Prosecco?
Prosecco is extremely versatile, you can pair it with many different types of food. Because of its delicate bubbles, and balanced acidity, Prosecco makes for a perfect pairing to a juicy, sexy charcuterie&cheese board and a huge variety of other appetisers. You name it, it goes well with Prosecco Doc! The gentler bottles of Prosecco are a marvel paired to spicy and creamy dishes, trust us, try it with a Tom Yum from Thailand - or a curry.
To close this brief story about our lovely sparkling wine, the only thing left to say is: whenever you crave something fresh, grab a glass, or a bottle of Prosecco DOC. You won’t regret it, actually you might regret not having another one on ice.