I plan on writing a number of wine-related articles in the coming days and weeks.
There are many reasons for my gush of vinous enthusiasm. First, the weather is turning warmer and is, in fact, downright hot as I’m writing this, so I enjoy looking for summertime wine options that will not induce any more sweat than the climate already does.
Second, my dining options are also changing with the rising temperatures, so I make a point of finding wines that compliment the lighter, often grilled, culinary options that summer brings.
Lastly, I truly love wine and don’t get to express that sentiment in verbal or written form nearly enough, so I hope you’ll indulge for a few articles.
One of my summertime “go to” wine options is a relatively new choice for me: Prosecco. Prosecco, a sparkling wine from northeastern Italy, has been around a long time, but the quality and consistency of Prosecco bottlings have never been higher, yet the price remains remarkably affordable.
It is especially affordable when you compare it to Prosecco’s sparkling neighbors to the west, Franciacorta, or the greatest and most expensive sparkling wines on the planet emanating from Champagne, France. What’s more, Proseccos are terrific patio sippers that pair well with lighter salads and appetizers.
Much of the credit for the big jump in the quality of Prosecco production must go to the group overseeing its production — the Consorzio di tutela della denominazione di origine controllata Prosecco. That’s a long and very Italian name that I don’t expect anyone to remember, but it’s important to know that by setting higher standards for Prosecco and establishing two guaranties of quality, Prosecco DOC and the more prestigious Prosecco DOCG, the Consorzio and the Italian government have carved a path that has led to the increased quality of Prosecco across the board.
Prosecco DOC stands for “Prosecco denominazione di origine controlla,” meaning controlled designation of origin. The added letter on the higher-quality Prosecco DOCG means guaranteed.
The ultimate expressions of Prosecco come from an area known as the Conegliano Valdobbiadene, a hilly countryside about 35 miles north of Venice and 75 miles south of the Dolomites. They’ve been growing grapes and making wine in this area for hundreds of years, but the the first written document linking Prosecco to the region dates back to 1772.
Prosecco DOC is a fairly new appellation, only established in 1969. Prosecco DOCG is even younger, the result of an action taken 40 years later. In 2009, the DOC regulations were revised to clearly state that Prosecco was no longer classified as a “type of vine” but a region known as the Conegliano-Valdobbiadene. Regulations are strict and include some of the following requirements:
▪ All grapes must come exclusively from vineyards in the defined area.
▪ Quality of production must adhere to the established rules.
▪ All production and bottling must be done in the cellars of the province of Treviso.
▪ All bottles must have the unique Prosecco government seal.
What I’ve seen and tasted since those standards were applied are brighter, more complex, and better tasting wines. I tried nine Proseccos prior to penning this piece, and I enjoyed every single one. From the wines from larger producers like Gancia and Zonin to longtime favorites bottlings from Mionetto to the new discoveries of Masottina, Val D’Oca, Carpene Malvolti, Valdo, Bianca Vigno and Villa Sindi, there wasn’t a single Prosecco that didn’t please the palate while perfectly fitting my summertime requirements.
Prosecco is low in alcohol, about 11 to 12 percent. I find Prosecco to be wonderfully aromatic and the flavors to be crisp and reminiscent of fruits such as Golden Delicious apples, Bartlett pears, white peaches and apricots. In other words, Prosecco tastes like summer in a glass!
If you’re a sucker for sparklers like me but are on a strict wine-buying budget, Prosecco might just be your summertime solution as it was mine. Salute!