Prosecco is Italy’s (greatly more affordable) champagne of Italy. However, it is made with the Charmat production method rather than the méthode champenoise.
Previously of Denominazione di Origine Controllata ("Controlled Designation of Origin") status, in 2009 Prosecco was upgraded to DOGC - Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (Controlled Designation of Origin Guaranteed).
Whilst Prosecco used to be quite sweet, changes and the vinification methods have resulted in the much drier varieties of modern times.
This sparkling Italian wine is mostly consumed as an aperitif. Given it’s light and fresh taste, it is easy to enjoy without being paired with food, unlike most Italian wines. However Prosecco Spumante, the more spendy, fully-sparkling version of Prosecco, may also accompany dessert on special occasions.
Prosecco is also an ingredient in several cocktails, including the famous Spritz and Bellini.
Given the appealing price point for the quality, Prosecco’s popularity has spread beyond Italian shores, particularly throughout the 21st Century.
Indeed, each year around 150 million bottles are released in Italy each year, all best consumed within 3 years.
The first surviving reference to this Italian sparkling wine comes form 1593 by travelling Englishman, Fynes Moryson, who refers to a “Prosecho” that was “much celebrated by Pliny" (the Elder, who in turn had praised the predecessor wine of Prosecco in his Natural History encyclopedia of the first century AD). At the time, this ‘Prosecho’ was known as one of the most popular wines in Italy. The first reference to “Prosecco” only came about in the mid-1700s.
To be officially classified as Prosecco wine, it must be produced in the Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia regions.
Made mostly from a grape that used to be called Prosecco (but now goes by the label of Glera), Prosecco can be dry or extra dry. In turn, the Prosecco grape took its name from the northern Italian town of Prosecco where it likely originated. However the name of the grape was changed to Glera in 2009 to avoid misleading labelling.