By Beth Clark • August 13, 2018
Whether you've ever imbibed or not, unless you've been living under a rock (and welcome back if you have), you've probably at least heard of Prosecco. But if your knowledge of it is limited to the fact that it's bubbly white wine in a fancy-schmancy bottle, then prepare to be fascinated! (Seriously, it really is all that and more, and hey, it's Italian...bonus.)
Prosecco is actually four things: One, it's the name of the Italian sparkling adult beverage that this blog post is devoted to. Two, it's the name of (or was) the grape varietal used to create said beverage. Three, it's the name of a village. And four, most importantly, it's the name of the northern Italy region where all the geographical, meteorological, and la dolce vita magic happens to make producing the molto delizioso sparkling wine that it's known for possible.
The Prosecco region is wedged between the Dolomites mountain range of the northern Italian Alps and the Adriatic Sea, with over 50,000 acres of grapes growing between 160 and 1600 feet above sea level in vineyards covering the dramatically rolling hills as they have for generations.
The area spans from the town of Valdobbiadene thirty miles north of Venice, past Treviso and Conegliano, all the way to Vittorio Veneto in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region in the far northeastern portion of Italy. Prosecco's fiercely unforgiving topography, ancient viticulture, and two hundred-year-old lovingly cultivated Prosecco vines are a few of the many reasons it was granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 2010. The Dolomites were inscribed in 2009, so there's much more than sparkling wine going on regionally, which adds to its spectacularity.
The village of Prosecco is a province (translation: suburb) of Trieste that stretches along the Gulf of Trieste on the Adriatic Sea coast only five miles to the west of the Slovenian border. Croatia is also nearby—nineteen miles to the south. The province is 800-ish feet above sea level and has a population of roughly 1500, of which upwards of 90% is Slovene, not Italian. (A fascinating story, but one that requires its own blog post to tell.)
Prosecco sparkling wines are made from an Italian white grape called Glera, which used to be called Prosecco until trademark issues arose and the name of the grape was changed to protect the name of the wine. Glera has to account for a minimum of 85% in the final blend, and to make up the other 15%, vintners often use Italian grapes like Bianchetta Trevigiana, Verdiso, or Perera, as well as French or other grapes, like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris.
Prosecco is made using the Charmat method, which means the secondary fermentation (the one that allows a wine's effervescence, the bubbles in the bottle) is run in pressurized stainless-steel tanks. The method is also called 'cuve close'—closed tank in French—as opposed to the Méthode Traditionnelle of Champagnes, with its in-bottle second fermentation.
A couple of final notes before we move on to actually DRINKING Prosecco:
Now that you know where it's grown, what grape(s) it's made from, and how it's made, fill a glass and saluti all dolce vita! (Cheers to the sweet life.)
As always, drink responsibly, and let us know if you find a favorite recipe, book, brand, cocktail game, or anything else #prosecco related that you'd like to share. Saluti, ThriftBooks readers!