Summer Prosecco – by Brian Flannery
My interest in Italian wine started long before I was old enough to drink it. When Lucy Ricardo found a winery outside of Rome and learned how to stomp grapes, I was intrigued. When Rob Petrie disguised his voice over the phone and spoke Italian to his wife Laura, I was entranced. Dolce Far Niente, how sweet to do nothing. I think about these black and white moments as I sit, sip, and contemplate Prosecco.
Prosecco is the perfect wine to drink leisurely on the terrazza, its hallmark style is simple and refreshing, light and elegant. This sparkling treasure has become hugely popular over the past few years, and before that was hardly seen anywhere. Ten years ago we carried one Prosecco (Nino Franco) and now we carry a dozen, and could carry countless others if we had the room. So the obvious question is: Where did all this Prosecco come from?
The growing area known as the Veneto produces some of the most famous mass-produced wines in Italy, touting names like Bolla, Zonin and Santa Margherita. It is the third highest quantity production zone in Italy, surpassed only by Sicily and Puglia. The difference is that the vast majority of Sicily’s and Puglia’s wines leave in tanker trucks, not in bottles.
That is not to say that Veneto wine is all bargain-rack wine. There are a great number of artisan producers making flavorful Soave, luscious Valpolicella, and uniquely interesting Amarone.
As far as Prosecco goes, Prosecco is the name of the grape which is also known as Glera, and it is also the name of a town in neighboring Friuli that does not grow the grape, but might have long ago. The most prosperous growing area is called Conegliano-Valdobbiadene. The better wines come from Valdobbiadene as a DOCG and are marked Prosecco Superiore. Other fine examples are marked DOC from Treviso. Valdobbiadene is the most often mispronounced. Visit this site to learn the proper pronunciation of various Italian appellations. http://dobianchi.com/2011/04/19/valdobbiadene-italian-grape-name-and-appellation-pronunciation-project/
Prosecco can be a little fruity or crisp and dry. The label will often give you a clue. If it says extra dry that means it’s a little fruity. Brut means drier. The Charmat method is used to get the bubbles into Prosecco. It is also known as a tank bulk process which is cheaper than the Methode Champenoise technique of secondary fermentation in bottles. Pressurized tanks are used and the interconnecting tanks preserve and make use of the carbon dioxide produced during fermentation.
Though it is most famous for its part in a Bellini, mixing in peach puree, Prosecco is in line with the great philosophy of Italian wine where it allows the food to be the star. You’ll be happy to see how your menus shine through when paired with Prosecco. From delicate seafood preparations, to dishes with light cream sauce, spicy Asian fare or stuffed mushrooms, the sparkly crispness will flatter and delight.
Tante bella cosa! Dolce far niente!