Prosecco is an Italian Dry or Extra Dry sparkling white made mainly using the Glera (“Prosecco”) grape. The best examples of Prosecco are made using 100% Prosecco, although Bianchetta, Perera, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Verdiso grape varieties can be used up to a maximum of 15%. DOC Prosecco can only be produced in the regions of Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia in Italy, mainly in the areas near Valdobbiadene and Conegliano, in the hills to the north of Treviso. Prosecco is gaining popularity as a less expensive substitute for Champagne.
Prosecco received DOCG status in 2009 and is protected as Prosecco di Conegliano, Prosecco di Valdobbiadene, and Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene.
Unlike Champagne, Prosecco's second fermentation usually takes place in stainless steel tanks using the Charmat method, making it less expensive to produce. The DOCG rules for the Prosecco Valdobbiadene also allows producers to use the Metodo Classico, in which the secondary fermentation takes place in the bottle.
Because Prosecco is not usually fermented in the bottle it will go stale over time. It should be drunk within three years of its vintage, although quality Prosecco can age for up to seven years.
Pre 1960s, Prosecco Sparkling wines were sweet and very similar to the Asti wine produced in Piedmont. Production techniques have since improved, leading to the production of quality dry sparkling wines known and loved throughout the world today.
International demand for Prosecco has dramatically increased since the late 1990's. With one New York Times report stating that these sparklings had enjoyed double digit percentage growths since 1998. This is probably due to the low price, and ever improving quality of these wines. As of 2008 there were approximately 150 million bottles of Italian Prosecco produced annually.
The DOC and DOCG areas for Prosecco lies within the regions of Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia in Italy. The main production areas within these regions are Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, which are located in the hills North of Treviso.
The highest quality Prosecco comes from the Hill of Cartizze vineyard. This 1,000 foot high vineyard covers an area of 260 acres (107 hectares) and produces the highest quality Prosecco avaliable, sometimes referred to as the “Grand Cru” of Prosecco.
Prosecco is usually Straw-colored , with overtones of citrus, melon, lemon, honey, and almonds. It is crisp and clean with small bubbles making it the perfect summer wine. Prosecco pairs well with seafood, especially crabmeat and calamari, as well as salads and pastas.