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1. It’s More Popular Than Champagne
Prosecco popped Champagne's bubble last Christmas, with sales of the Italian sparkling wine outperforming French fizz by ten to one. And, by 2020, the worldwide consumption of Prosecco is expected to surpass 412m bottles; a an estimated increase of 36% over five years compared to Champagne's forecasted 1% growth.
In fact, prosecco is becoming so popular, it's now almost something of a lifestyle – there’s the Prosecco Festival, Prosecco advent calendars, Prosecco bath salts, Prosecco socks, Prosecco pong (a sophisticated take on the classic frat party game, beer pong) and a whole lot more.
2. And More Aromatic Too
The majority of Prosecco is made in the Charmat method, aka the tank method, where the fermented wine goes through its secondary fermentation in big steel tanks, rather than the bottle – like champagne and many other wines. Because tank method secondary fermentation is so efficient, it means prosecco can be made in large quantities to meet the high demand.
But just because it’s efficient, doesn’t mean the tank method produces uncomplicated wines – Prosecco is made with highly aromatic Glera grapes, and this cleaner fermentation method allows those aromatics to shine through far more in the final product.
3. Millennial Brits Are The Biggest Prosecco Drinkers
In 2016, Britain consumed a third of the 410m bottles of Prosecco produced, according to the Consortium for the Protection of Prosecco – that's more than any other country.
And as for which Brits are drinking it, a recent survey found that millennials are especially into the Italian fizz. A poll by the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) found that 97% of UK 18-24-year-olds surveyed drink it (that explains the Prosecco pong).
4. Prosecco Shortages Have Caused Worldwide Panic
Prosecco has become so popular that suppliers almost ran out – now known as the 'Great Prosecco Shortage of 2016'. Sainsbury’s even withdrew all prosecco from its shelves following high demand for the sparkling wine.
This March, experts warned we may be due for another shortage – as wine production is said to have slumped to its lowest level in decades after France, Spain and Italy were all hit by freakishly hot and cold weather last year. The areas most affected were those known for producing Rioja and Prosecco.
5. It Can Only Be Produced In Certain Areas Of Italy
Prosecco is a trademarked wine and must be produced exclusively in select parts of northeastern Italy. Look out for 'DOCG' and 'DOC' (quality assurance labels for Italian wines) on the bottle: DOCG is the strictest level of designation for Italian wines, so seeing this on your Prosecco means the producers followed the highest regulations possible. In April 2010, the Conegliano-Valdobbiadene area acquired DOCG designation and, with it, the exclusive right to define prosecco produced from grapes cultivated in this area, as 'Superiore'. This area, comprised of 15 communes, produces the highest-quality Prosecco around.
To receive DOC status, wine producers must adhere to strict quality and authenticity regulations – but the rules are a little less restricted than those for DOCG status. The Prosecco DOC area was established in 2009 and is comprised of nine provinces in the Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia regions. Look out for the 'Treviso DOC' label in particular, as the area produces particularly high-quality Prosecco grapes.
6. And Only Ten Grapes Can Be Included
Prosecco was originally the name of a grape and a place, but once the wine’s popularity grew, more clarification was needed to avoid just anyone using the name. The prosecco grape was renamed ‘Glera’ in 2010, and must make up 85% of a wine for it to be labelled Prosecco.
As for the other 15%, only nine other grapes are allowed to make up this smaller percentage. These include Verdiso, Bianchetta Trevigiana, Perera, Glera Lunga, Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir.
7. Different Areas Produce Different Prosecco
According to Mionetto, the extended Prosecco DOC area has very diversified soil; from stony to clayey or sandy. As such, the notes are generally less intense and persistent than DOCG, and can be more floral or more fruity depending on the soil.
The Valdobbiadene DOCG area produces light-bodied Prosecco with scents of fresh green apple, pears and peaches, and nuances of acacia flower. While the Conegliano DOCG area is known for medium-bodied Proseccos with ripe fruit, sage, spices and notes of apple.
8. You Need To Watch Out For ‘Fake Prosecco’
Last month, inspectors from the UK Food Standards Agency obtained a shipment in Coventry of thousands of bottles of sparkling wine that had been wrongly labelled as Prosecco. The FSA wine inspection team discovered that the wine had been produced in Moldova but classified as though it’d been sourced from the northeast of Italy, where Prosecco is made.
If you’re concerned about counterfeit wine, or simply want to read reviews on a bottle before buying, use the free app Vivino to scan the label and find out all you need to know.
9. It Has The ‘Goldilocks’ Of Bubbles
Particular about your fizz? Prosecco is also the perfect choice if you need your bubbles ‘just right’ – with different degrees of perlage to choose from. Opt for the the fully sparkling spumante (fully sparkling) if you enjoy strong bubbles, or frizzante (lightly sparkling) if you prefer a more gentle fizz.
The difference in bubbles comes through the making process: frizzante is more like a 'Soda Stream', whereas in a spumante the bubbles emerge through the second fermentation (sugar and yeast = alcohol and bubbles).
10. But It’s Not Always Bubbly
The Romans may have enjoyed Prosecco, but it wasn’t until the 19th century when Antonio Carpenè – Founder of the Carpenè Malvolti winery – subjected the still white wine to a second fermentation that Prosecco acquired it’s now lasting association with bubbles.
Still Prosecco – known as tranquillo – is still available today if you want to savour the wine’s crisp flavour, without the bubbles.
11. It’s Not As Sweet As People Think
Up until the 1960s, Prosecco was generally rather sweet – but, since then, production techniques have vastly improved, leading to the high-quality dry wines produced today. A standard glass of Prosecco has around 121 calories and isn’t too bad for your teeth – since the levels of residual sugar are still far below dessert wines – however, it may seem sweeter than it actually is due to the grape’s fruit-forward flavours.
Prosecco is now made in four different levels of sweetness: brut, extra dry, dry or demi-sec, with brut being the driest and demi-sec the sweetest. For the lowest sugar option, opt for a brut nature, which has no residual sugars (0-3g per litre) – we love Mionetto's limited edition Luxury Rive de Guia.
12. The Original Bellini Used Prosecco, Not Champagne
Cocktail bars today may often use Champagne, but that’s not true to the original recipe. The Bellini was born in 1948 at the famed Harry’s Bar in Venice: fresh white peaches pushed through a sieve to create a puree, then topped with crisp, bright Prosecco.
13. ‘Aged’ Prosecco Isn’t A Thing
Unlike Champagne and other red and white wines, Prosecco doesn't ferment in the bottle, therefore it doesn’t improve with age. The crisp flavors of Prosecco are meant to be enjoyed as young as possible, while the acidity and fruit-forwardness are still fresh – consuming a bottle within a year of its vintage is ideal.
14. It Tastes Best In A Certain Glass
Prosecco is best served in a tulip style sparkling wine glass and served cold. The height and slenderness of the tulip glass is said to help preserve the bubbles, and the bulb at the top helps collect more of the floral aromas coming from the wine.
15. It's One Of The Most Versatile Wines With Food
You might not know it – but when it comes to food pairing, Prosecco is one of the most versatile wines around. It teams well with pretty much anything you’re planning to put on your plate: breakfast Mimosas with eggs, a glass with sweet treats and afternoon tea, an accompaniment to salty crisps and nuts, and ideal with a variety of dinners – refreshing the palette with creamy pastas and spicy curries, or mirroring the fresh taste of seafood and light salads.