Prosecco

Prosecco is More Complex Than You Think

Champagne and Prosecco are undoubtedly the two most popular, iconic, and widely recognized sparkling wines in the world. Prosecco can often be seen as an imitation to Champagne, but they are actually very different wines with different public images. While Champagne is seen as a luxury and expensive, Prosecco is perceived as casual and inexpensive. While 307 million bottles of Champagne were sold in 2017, Prosecco had a staggering 510 million bottles sold, proving the rising popularity of Prosecco among consumers.

This month, Alan Tardi, award-winning wine author, joined us for an enlightening discussion comparing Champagne and Prosecco. He taught us about the obvious differences, while focusing on the many fundamental aspects the two wines have in common. Prosecco is commonly perceived as Champagne’s imitation, but they are actually very different wines. Fundamentally, they have different grape varieties, growing areas, and even production methods. Through the tasting, we understood what makes Champagne and Prosecco unique wine categories, while also showcasing the commonalities that they share. Read below to find out more about the similarities and differences of two of the most famous sparkling wines!

Prosecco being poured

Alan Tardi

In The Beginning...

Attendee looking at wineWhile Champagne and Prosecco achieved their fame and notoriety as sparkling wines, both originated as still wines when they were invented hundreds of years ago. There are many wines in the world that are direct imitations of Champagne, like Cava, Cremant and Franciacorta, but it is important to know that Prosecco developed along its own separate parallel path to become its own distinct wine.

Growing Area

The growing areas of both regions are highly diversified and complex, with major distinctions between each part. But, that is where the similarities seem to end! There is only one Champagne appellation, but there are three for Prosecco. These appellations include Colli Asolani DOCG, Prosecco Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG, and Prosecco DOC.

Prosecco map

Transition from Sweet to Brut

Prosecco being pouredBoth Champagne and Prosecco began as sweet wines, and they both made their major US debut inside of a cocktail. Champagne Cocktail and Champagne Punch was introduced during the first half of the 19th century, while Prosecco via the Bellini was introduced in the 1970s. Even though Prosecco was introduced and is known as a brunch-y drink, there are many different styles of Prosecco. These styles include sweet, bone-dry, sparkling, still, and unfiltered, and can all be used and enjoyed in different ways.

Quick Guide To Holiday Bubbles

Written by Elizabeth Smith, CS
ICC Wine Program Coordinator

There’s no better way to kick off the festive season with popping corks and a splash (or two) of bubbly.  But what to drink?   Here’s my quick-and-dirty guide to what to buy.


Champagne

Champagne lovers say there’s simply no substitute for real Champagne, and of course, there’s nothing like it to ring in the new year.   In the words of Ferris Bueller, “it is so choice – if you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.”   If you like a rich and toasty style, go for Herbert Beaufort or Vilmart – smaller producers that make full, silky champagnes.  If you’re looking for something lean and racy as an apéritif, I’d recommend grower-producer Pierre Gimonnet – his Premier Cru Blanc de Blancs is redolent of lime blossom with a firm mineral spine.



Other Traditional Method Sparklers

Made in the traditional method of Champagne, Cava delivers those toasty, yeasty notes and fuller body at a fraction of the price.  For excellent value, try Juvé y Camps or Mas la Mola L’Atzar – the latter ages 22 months in the bottle, longer than many Champagnes.  But my favorite Spanish sparkler of all time is Raventós i Blanc Rosé de Nit – a robust and flavorful rosé from Mourvedre that goes with everything.

You can also drink the big Champagne producers at a more civilized cost if you head to California – Taittinger, Roederer, and Moët all have sisters stateside.  I was recently impressed with Taittinger’s Domaine Carneros – a nose of pear compote on brioche, with a cleansing acidity and tight bubbles on the palate.


Prosecco

A lighter, more fruit-forward wine than those made in the traditional method, Prosecco is about fresh fruit flavors and sometimes a little kiss of sugar.  Perfect for apéritifs, digestifs, toasts, and gatherings at any hour, Malibràn Gorio Extra Dry Prosecco is delicately sweet, with gentle fruity and floral notes.


Off the Beaten Path

German producer 50◦N makes original and truly delicious sekt (sparkling) wines, fruity and drinkable and guaranteed to please a crowd.  But my personal favorite obscure sparkler is the underrated French appellation Crémant de Limoux – the first sparkling wines in the world (pre-dating Champagne).  Try producer Saint-Hilaire – Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, and Mauzac grapes deliver distinctive wines at incredible value.

 

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