Like Champagne, Prosecco is a protected style of sparkling wine, but there are key differences that set the two apart beyond their countries of origin.
Prosecco is produced across nine provinces in north-eastern Italy in the regions of Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia from the Glera grape. The Glera grape was originally called the Prosecco grape until the name was officially changed in 2009. These grapes are highly acidic, making them ideal for crafting sparkling wines. They bring out bright, fruity flavors of citrus, melon, white flowers, peach, pear, and so on. The majority of Proseccos are 100% Glera, but the Prosecco DOC and DOCG allow producers to supplement their Proseccos with up to 15% Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir, Pinto Bianco, or Chardonnay. Prosecco has been produced since Roman times and continues to be one of Italy’s most popular styles of wine because of its refreshing and approachable personality.
Prosecco comes in four levels of sweetness – Brut, Extra-Dry, Dry, and Demi-Sec – making it a versatile style for the palate of most any sparkling wine enthusiast. In addition to multiple sweetness levels, the majority of Proseccos are either frizzante, meaning slightly sparkling, or spumante, meaning fully sparkling.
Prosecco and Champagne both share the ‘sparkling wine’ designation, but little else beyond that. Champagne is known for its smaller bubble texture which makes it feel velvety or creamy on that palate while Prosecco has larger bubbles that make it more effervescent and crisp. Furthermore, Champagnes have a distinct brioche or toast flavor while Proseccos have more fruit and floral ones. These key differences come from how each of these styles is produced.
Champagne is produced using the “methode traditionelle”, defined by a second fermentation period that takes place in the bottle (which is also when the bubbles are formed). Prosecco is made following the “Charmat” method which also has a second fermentation, but it takes place in a large pressurized tank. Fermentation is triggered by the adding of yeast and sugars and then it is rapidly ended by cooling the wine and bottling it under pressure. Doing this keeps the wine’s bright freshness and fruitiness.
Because Prosecco has a light and fruity effervescence it pairs well with many different dishes. Many love to enjoy a glass at the beginning of a meal, but it can elevate the flavors of soft cheeses, tomato dishes, white fish, oysters, shrimp, chicken, light pastas, and most spicy dishes. And, of course, you can’t go wrong with a glass to complement your favorite dessert!