The Ultimate Guide to Prosecco

Prosecco is the best-selling sparkling wine in the UK – and it’s easy to see why.  It’s a more affordable alternative to Champagne and can be enjoyed on any occasion from a wedding reception to a picnic on a summer’s day.

If you are new to Prosecco or have ever wondered what the differences are between Prosecco and Champagne, then read on. We’ve compiled the ultimate guide to the bubbles in the bottle.

What is Prosecco?

Prosecco is a bubbly, sparkling white wine from Italy. The wine is primarily produced from the Glera grape, grown in the Veneto region of Northern Italy.

Is all Prosecco fizzy?

Brits tend to think of Prosecco as sparkling wine – but there are actually different levels of ‘fizziness’ (or ‘perlage’ to give it the correct terminology):

  • Spumante – the most bubbly
  • Frizzante – less bubbly
  • Tranquillo – completely still

Prosecco and Champagne – what is the difference?

Aside from the geographical differences with Prosecco hailing from Italy and Champagne produced in France, there are also some key variations in the methods of production of each wine.

Both wines undergo two fermentations, and this is when the CO2 or ‘fizz’ is created. Yeast and sugars are added to Champagne, which is bottled and tipped neck-down, so the dead yeast cells can be easily removed, and the bottle resealed and left to age for at least eighteen months.

Prosecco’s second fermentation happens in a large tank, where sugar and yeast are sealed in to create the CO2 before bottling takes place.

Another significant difference is the type of grape used. Prosecco is made from the Glera variety, whereas Champagne can either be a blend of Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay or produced using a single variety of these grapes.

What does Prosecco taste like?

Unlike Champagne, which is associated with the flavours of citrus fruits and smoky toasted bread, Prosecco has a lighter, floral taste with notes of pear and apple.

It’s a crisp and aromatic wine that has high levels of acidity and secondary flavours of hazelnut and cream. There are also six levels of sweetness that it’s worth being aware of when shopping for your perfect bottle of Prosecco:

  • Brut Nature – very dry
  • Extra Brut – dry
  • Brut – medium dry
  • Dry – medium sweet
  • Demi-Sec – sweet
  • Dolce – very sweet

We know that the sweetness classifications may look confusing – as a ‘dry Prosecco’ is actually a medium sweet wine and not at all dry! But there is an explanation: Over the years our tastes have changed and there was a demand for drier wines – so the winemakers agreed on a series of new classifications, so what was once considered ‘dry’ is now much sweeter to the modern palate.

DOC or DOCG?

To understand how good a particular Prosecco is, there are two quality classifications that you need to know:

  • DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) – to earn a DOC label to display on the bottle, wines have to meet strict standards. The majority of the Prosecco produced in either the Veneto or Friuli regions of Italy are classified DOC – and are very good Prosecco choices.
  • DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) – to achieve a DOCG classification the Prosecco must be of an exceptional quality and meet higher standards. DOCG Prosecco needs to have been produced in a very small region between the towns of Valdobbiadene and Conegliano.

Does Prosecco age well?

Unlike Champagne, Prosecco is a young wine that does not age well.

An unopened bottle should be consumed within a year of purchase, and once opened it will keep for up to two days in the fridge if you use a wine stopper to keep the bubbles locked inside.

Foods to pair with Prosecco

Team a glass of Prosecco with white meat and seafood, or hearty stuffed mushrooms as a veggie alternative. This versatile fizzy wine is also a real treat with Thai dishes or sushi.

A Semi-Dec Prosecco also makes an excellent dessert wine when served with lemon tarts, crème brulee or a delicious dark chocolate torte.

If you are hosting a dinner party, pair a Dry Prosecco with a cheeseboard of soft goat’s cheese, creamy Gorgonzola, and Swiss Emmental to round off the evening.

Prosecco cocktails

Try a classic Bellini served with Prosecco instead of Champagne. Simply fill a third of a fluted glass with peach puree and top up with crisp Prosecco.

Give your guests a treat and serve up a bowl of refreshing Apple Prosecco Punch at your next party. Mix 500ml of cloudy apple juice with 200ml of vodka and lemon juice and chill in the fridge. Just before you are ready to serve, add Prosecco, sliced apples, and plenty of ice.

Try these Proseccos to add sparkle to your life

Now you know more about what makes a good Prosecco – it’s time to get out there and find your favourite.  To get you started, here are our recommendations – from bargain buys to luxury bottles for a special occasion:

  • Best Organic Prosecco: £7.49 Castellore Organic Prosecco (Aldi) – grown with no pesticides used in the vineyard and only using renewable energy, this honeycomb- and pear-tasting fizz is a refreshing and sustainable choice.
  • Best budget buy: £6.00 Sainsbury’s Conegliano Prosecco – with medium fizz and not too dry, yet not too sweet – this is an affordable introduction to Prosecco drinking.
  • Best luxury Prosecco: £21.99 Della Vite Superiore Prosecco DOCG – extra dry, extra crisp and with delicate bubbles, this Prosecco used only hand-picked grapes from a small vineyard in Valdobbiadene.
  • Best pink Prosecco: £8.50 I Heart Prosecco Rose DOC – fruity, floral and fresh, this sparkling pink Prosecco will add fizz to any special occasion.
  • Best value case of Prosecco: £57.00 Colle Del Principe Prosecco Brut – a case of six bottles of Veneto-produced Prosecco with delicate notes of pear, apple and lemon. Pairs well with seafood and pasta.