Prosecco Primer

Updated August 2, 2019

Prosecco, an Italian sparkling wine from Veneto, can be the perfect selection as an excellent wine to serve with appetizers, light meals, or fruity desserts. You will find the crispness refreshing and the bubbles exciting. While many people compare prosecco to Champagne, aside from the bubbles and color, the two wines don't have much in common. Prosecco is made from different grapes using a different method than Champagne.

Prosecco Wines and Grapes

Prosecco is a sparkling wine, but it isn't the Italian equivalent of Champagne. Prosecco is a dry sparkling Italian wine that comes from the Glera grape (formerly named Prosecco) - a white grape grown primarily in the Veneto region of Italy, north of Treviso in the northeastern corner of the country. All Prosecco must contain at least 85 percent Glera, although additional grapes such as Pinot Grigio, Verdiso, Pinot Bianco, and Chardonnay may be blended in. This Glera grape ripens late in the harvest, which tends to make it a sweeter grape. Many perceive the resulting wine as slightly sweet; however, the acid and mineral balances of the wine keep it from being extremely sweet.

Prosecco grapes on the vine

How Prosecco Is Made

Prosecco is made differently from Champagne. Unlike many of the world's sparkling wines made using the méthode champenoise with secondary bottle fermentation, Prosecco is made using a method called charmant, which is also known as the "tank method." Secondary fermentation is accomplished in stainless steel tanks, which creates wines with fewer yeasty or biscuty flavors than sparkling wines produced using méthode champenoise. This medium-bodied wine tends to have large bubbles, resulting in a medium froth. Its alcohol content of 11 to 12 percent is lower than some other wines. This lower alcohol level, combined with the slight sweetness of the wine, makes this wine a popular choice for both novice and experienced wine drinkers.

Flavor Profile for Prosecco

Because of the different type of secondary fermentation, Prosecco has clean, crisp flavors that include tree fruits, melon, tropical fruits, citrus, and honeysuckle. The wine has a reputation for its rich aroma, crisp mouth feel, and fruity overtones of yellow apple, pear and white peaches. It's also highly aromatic, and the light bubbles help to carry the aromas quickly to your nose.

Types of Prosecco

While the most commonly known type of Prosecco is a sparkling wine, there are also non-sparkling versions of Prosecco. You'll find three primary types of Prosecco based on the bubbles:

  • Spumante Prosecco is the full-on bubbly version or sparkling.
  • Frizzante Prosecco is semi-sparkling, so it is lightly fizzy.
  • Tranquillo Prosecco is non-sparkling and has no bubbles.

Quality Designations

Prosecco also has different quality designations on the label.

DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata)

Proseccos are of good quality and contain the specified grapes, methods, and regions required by law. Proseccos with DOC status are labeled with differing levels of dryness or sweetness:

  • Brut has up to 12 grams per liter of residual sugar.
  • Extra dry has 12 to 17 grams per liter of residual sugar.
  • Dry has 17 to 32 grams per liter of residual sugar

DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita)

DOCG is Prosecco's highest quality standard; it's also called Prosecco Superiore DOCG.

  • One of the DOCGs is labeled Conegliano Valdobbiadene Superiore or Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore. The other is labeled Asolo Prosecco Superiore DOCG.
  • Along with the dryness designations associated with DOCs, Prosecco Superior DOCG may also be extra-brut, with 0 to 6 grams per liter of residual sugar.
Vineyards in Valdobbiadene, land of Prosecco wine

Vintage Versus Non-Vintage Prosecco

Like other types of sparkling wines, you can find both vintage and non-vintage Proseccos. Vintage Prosecco is made during the best years for grapes, while non-vintage Prosecco contains a blend of vintages.

Storing and Drinking Prosecco

For the most part, Prosecco is meant to be drunk young.

  • Consume it within a year of purchasing or of the vintage date.
  • Store Prosecco upright in a cool, dark place away from vibration and temperature fluctuations.
  • After opening, seal and refrigerate for up to three days.
  • Serve Prosecco slightly chilled at a temperature of 46° to 50°F.
  • Serve Prosecco in a tulip shaped Champagne glass.

Food Pairing

Prosecco is a great picnic wine. It also pairs well with many foods including:

  • Pasta with cream sauce
  • Fish and seafood
  • Poultry
  • Spicy foods such as Thai food
  • Oysters on the half shell
Oysters with lemon and white wine

5 Proseccos to Try

Prosecco is accessible and affordable, so it's easy to find inexpensive wines that suit your tastes.

Adami Bosco di Gica Prosecco Superiore

This Brut Prosecco has long lasting bubbles and plenty of sass. It only costs $20, and the Adami Bosco di Gica Prosecco Superiore has flavors of apples and cream with lovely floral aromas.

Rivata Prosecco

It costs just over $10, but the Rivata Prosecco presents as a much more expensive wine. This off-dry sparkling Prosecco offers mouthwatering aromas and flavors of almonds and peaches and big, fun bubbles.

L'Antica Quercia Morene Prosecco Tranquillo DOCG

It's not easy to find a Tranquillo Prosecco stateside, but you'll occasionally find them. The L'Antica Quercia Morene is a non-sparkling vintage Prosecco from Conegliano-Valdobbiadene. It costs around $25 per bottle.

Bortolomiol Bandarossa Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore

The Bortolomiol Bandarossa Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore is a vintage sparkling Prosecco with toasty and creamy notes combined with citrus and tropical fruits. It costs around $17 per bottle.

Bisol Cartizze Prosecco Superiore

At $40, the Bisol Cartizze Prosecco Superiore is more expensive than other Proseccos, but it's worth the extra cost. The vintage Prosecco has floral aromas and bright flavors of pears, peaches, and apples. It's a really good bottle of Prosecco; James Suckling awarded the 2017 vintage a 92-point rating.

Magic of Prosecco

Prosecco is a wonderful wine to keep chilled in the refrigerator so that you can pull it out at a moment's notice and serve it at its preferred 45 to 46 degree serving temperature. It also makes wondeful bubbly cocktails. Because it's so affordable, it's easy to keep a few bottles on hand whenever you want to make a few simple snacks feel like an appetizer party.

Was this page useful?
Prosecco Primer