By Bob Hosmon
City & Shore Magazine
Once upon a time — but not that long ago — the best-known sparkling wine from Italy was Asti Spumante. Indeed, I can remember dinners in Little Italy where guests were welcomed with complimentary glasses of that acceptable, if not particularly memorable, bubbly.
Fast forward to today, and Asti Spumante has taken a very back-row position in the public’s appreciation. Today the Italian sparkling wine of choice, the easy-drinking bubbly alternative to champagne, is prosecco.
Named for the northeastern Italian village of Prosecco, near Trieste, the boundaries for production of the wine include parts of the province of Veneto and all of Friuli. For centuries, Prosecco was produced as a somewhat sweet sparkler, in order to compete with the sparkling wines being made in Asti. But in the latter decades of the 20th century production changed and favored a drier taste. That change catapulted prosecco into becoming a major exporter of mostly dry sparkling wine. Indeed, the United States today is one of its largest customers.
Three things to keep in mind:
Prosecco is an affordable alternative to champagne (a number of premium bottles are priced at less than $35).
The wine undergoes its second fermentation in stainless steel tanks and is therefore generally at its best when young (the best proseccos can be aged for about six years).
Most proseccos are low in alcohol (11-12 percent).
Knowing this, you’re ready to enjoy any of these winning proseccos as an alternative to other sparkling wines or as a principal ingredient in a Bellini cocktail or a spritzer.
Start your quest of discovery with one of the most prominent prosecco producers, the Bisol family, who has been in Veneto since 1542. The Bisol Crede ($25) offers a first-rate introduction to the wine. Those looking to upgrade will appreciate the Bisol Cartizze Superiore di Cartizze ($50), produced from typical Glera grapes with a bit of Pinot Bianco in the blend. It’s one of Italy’s best. I also like the affordable crisp and refreshing Jeio from Desiderio ($15), available in a Brut or a Rosé; and the Bosco di Gica Adami Brut ($15), a blend of Glera with Chardonnay.
Mionetto produces one of the best bargain and one of the best premium priced proseccos in the market: the Mionetto Brut Treviso Prestige Collection ($14) and the Mionetto Dry Valdobbladene Superiore di Cartizze ($35). They also make a Mionetto Prosecco Frizzante, a bubbly with bubbles that quickly dissipate in the glass ($17) (“Frizzante” means “less sparkling”).
No, prosecco isn’t champagne — and doesn’t pretend to be. But those who seek it out will not be disappointed.