Prosecco overtaking champagne as sparkling wine of choice

On the Coast's resident wine columnist Barbara Philip brings us a little of the history behind the Italian sparkling wine prosecco, as well as four of her recommendations for you to try this summer.

Growing appeal

"As much as I love champagne, the most famous sparkling wine of the world, prosecco is overtaking it by volume. It's overtaking it in the next generation of wine drinkers," said Philip.

Proseccos have a lower price point than champagne, making them more accessible and more appealing as aperitifs, she said.

Stylistically, prosecco has light floral, citrus and moderately acidic tones that make it less austere than champagnes can sometimes be, Philip said.

Add to that its easy-to-pronounce and elegant-sounding name, and it's a highly marketable product, she added.

Must come from Italy

Prior to 2009, unlike champagne, prosecco did not have to be produced in a specific region or from a specific grape variety in order to be called prosecco.

However, when prosecco began to climb in popularity and other vintners began producing it in other countries, "the Italians scrambled in record time to protect the name prosecco," said Philip.

In order for a sparkling wine to bear the label prosecco, it must come from glera grapes grown within the designated region.

Regional differences

Philip said there are two easily defined regions where prosecco is made.

The first is the flatlands, or the plain. Prosecco originating here is generally priced lower, and is "very friendly in the glass," Philip said.

The second is the prosecco superiore region, which lies in the higher altitudes and steep slopes of Italy. "This is where the more interesting, the more minerally and complex prosecco come from," Philip said.

You can distinguish where your sparkling wine originates by the label on the bottle: DOCG indicates the superiore region, where DOC means it was produced in the flatlands.

4 proseccos for the summer

Riondo Prosecco Frizzante DOC. Veneto. $12.99
Not quite fully sparkling. The bubbles will feel "lazier" in the mouth.

Vaporetto Prosecco Brut DOC. Veneto. $17.29
Fully sparkling, dry style.

Valdo Prosecco 'Marco Oro' DOCG. Veneto. $18.29
Extra dry. Don't be fooled - that means there's a touch of sweetness. Think of that as added complexity and softness.

Val d'Oca Prosecco Extra Dry DOCG. Rive di Colbertaldo. 2014. $27.29
Most serious, most complex.

To hear the full interview with Barbara Philip, listen to the audio labelled: Prosecco in B.C.

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