Prosecco (also called Glera grape) is a white grape variety that makes Italian sparkling wine in an area about 50 km north of the city of Venice in the Veneto region. Especially north of Venice we find the wine regions of the eastern part of Veneto, including the hills around Treviso. Here, near the town of Valdobbiadene, we find countless producers of the famous liquid, the very popular and light-footed, light-peeling wine of this region, based on the grape variety Prosecco. It is originally a grape variety, such as chardonnay, but the name is often used to indicate the type of wine.
The wine is made from the glera grape and almost always according to a special method: the method Charmat or cuve close. The method means that the second fermentation takes place in a closed tank, whereby the carbon dioxide produced by that fermentation dissolves in the wine. Due to the much larger volume of the tank, this second fermentation will be much faster than with champagne (which has a second fermentation in the bottle). This process gives the wine its fresh, foamy mousse.
Most of the wines have a somewhat lower carbon pressure (about 2.5 bar) and are also called ‘Vino frizzante’. The bottle usually suffices with a sturdy cork with the famous string (or spago) around it. A crown cap or screw cap as closure is also used with frizzante wines. The alcohol percentage of these are often around 10 to 11 percent.
It is also sold as ‘spumante’. This wine has a somewhat higher carbon pressure (about 4 bar) and a bit more mousse, comparable to that of a Champagne or Cremant. The bottles are usually stronger, and the closure is equipped with a metal braid (muselet) such as champagne.
It offers a very good opportunity to drink it as an aperitif. Just like Spanish cava and other cheaper sparkling wines, and is often seen as an alternative to champagne. Some can come close to the refined taste of a Champagne.
Method Charmat: Also called Martinotti or metodo Italiano
The wine is made according to the method Charmat, also called metodo Italiano or metodo Martinotti. Incidentally, this method is not an obligation to produce this particular wine (you can also use the method champenoise for example), but it is the most common method which is also the best for the fruity characteristics to come into its own.
The method has been perfected at the oenology institute of the University of Conegliano and works as follows:
After picking the grapes, they are pressed. Up to seventy liters of must (the name for this juice) can be pressed from 100 kilos of grapes. This restriction only applies to the variety DOCG. The must rests first for 10 to 12 hours and then the first fermentation starts by adding yeast. This creates a natural process in which the alcohol is formed and after 15 to 20 days this results in a basic wine.
This basic wine is the starting point of the second fermentation. A second fermentation is used with sparkling wines to create the bubble. The second fermentation is started by putting the basic wine in a pressure tank (autoclave) and adding sugar and yeast. The yeast reacts with the sugar – it eats the sugar – and this results in a natural bubble: the perlage of the wine.
The reason that it is a natural bubble is that CO2 is released during the fermentation of each wine. With a silent wine (or with the first fermentation with a sparkling wine), however, this CO2 is allowed to escape and thus no bubble is produced. The moment you do not allow the CO2 to escape by using an autoclave or have the wine fermented in a (sealed) bottle, the perlage is created.
Second fermentation: A matter of patience
The time taken up by the second fermentation depends on the winemaker and the type of wine: with a frizzante, a lower pressure is required, and this is therefore ready earlier, from two weeks onwards. For a spumante, 30 days is the minimum period.
Yet in the end the result proves to show a big difference between winemakers who are in a hurry and winemakers who take more time. More time is good for the finesse of the bubble. A coarse, big, hard bubble is often the result of a rushed production process – which is necessary if you want to offer a cheap bubble. A producer who takes more time for the second fermentation, generally has wines with many and small bubbles that have a pleasant mouthfeel.
At the moment the yeast and sugar are added to the basic wine, the yeast will consume the sugar. This reduces the sugar content in the wine. If this process is not stopped, almost all sugar is eaten by the yeast. When the sugar is up, the yeasts die. In order to obtain a residual sugar content in the Charmat method, cooling of the autoclave is used to stop this process earlier. The temperature is reduced to 0 degrees Celsius, as a result of which the yeast cells become inactive and sink to the bottom.
The residual sugar content in the wine is also a distinction that we describe here. The second fermentation is initiated by adding yeast and sugar to the base wine and bringing them together in an autoclave (pressure tank). The reaction of yeast and sugar is extensively described on the page about the production process. The sugar that remains after this reaction (expressed in grams / liter) determines whether the wine is of the type Dry, Extra Dry or Brut. These names for the residual sugar content will sound familiar to people who drink champagne.
Filtering and bottling: Obtaining a clear wine
When the yeast has subsided to the bottom and the winemaker is satisfied with the development of the yeast flavors on the wine and the perlage, the wine can be filtered. The filtering usually takes place by means of a membrane. After this filtering, the wine can be bottled. Again, the producer determines the duration of the rest period for the wine. Some producers put the wine directly on the market and others want the wine to rest for up to three months.
The wine consists of a white grape planted in the province of Veneto in Italy, east of Venice. The grape can also be found in Frioul (Marseille). This grape ripens in early October and thrives well in dry places. The fairly sweet, round, small grapes grow on large, long bunches. The grape mainly produces soft sparkling wines, which are usually dry and sometimes semi-dry.
This grape produces wines with a modest alcohol percentage, which are straw yellow in color. Sometimes the grape is also used in silent wines, which get the taste of pear and have a slight bitterness. The aroma is reminiscent of yellow apple, green apple and pear. After the grapes have been harvested, the grape juice is fermented on large closed stainless-steel tanks. This method is called ‘Charmat’. This preserves the fine fruit scents of the wine and gives the wine a fine mousse.
The basis: A sparkling wine made from Glera
Basically, it is a wine that must consist of at least 85% must of the Glera grape. Glera is the official name of the grape, also known as the prosecco grape.
There are diverse ways to distinguish between the countless bottles by the tags on them. A distinction on quality is due to the different qualifications that exist: Cartizze, DOCG, DOC and Glera.
You can find the wine in almost every supermarket or wine trader. Be sure to look out for them the next time you go shopping. The prosecco price is one that is hard to beat, and it comes in a ton of different varieties. The prosecco wine is an instant hit to your aperitif and prosecco offers you something new.
Conca d’Oro Prosecco Millesimato Brut 2019£9.88
Villa Marcello Prosecco Brut Millesimato 2019£9.20
Ca’ di Rajo Prosecco Treviso Millesimato Rosé Brut 2019£9.20
Andreola Prosecco Vigneto Dirupo Extra Dry 2019£9.89
Zucchetto Paolo Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Purofol Brut 2018£16.47
Astoria Prosecco Superiore Asolo Fanò Extra Brut£8.10
V8 + Prosecco Valdobbiadene Brut Millesimato Sior Carlo 2019£10.98
Domini Veneti Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore£10.35
Andreola Prosecco Mas de Fer 2019£8.91
Prapian Prosecco Valdobbiadene Brut Bio 2018£8.50
Foss Marai Prosecco Valdobbiadene Cartizze£26.60
Astoria Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Cuvée Tenuta Val de Brun Millesimato Extra Dry 2019£12.69
Deseo Prosecco Extra Dry Mill 2019£7.54
Valdo Prosecco Valdobbiadene Brut Cuvee di Boj£8.47
Ca’ di Rajo Prosecco Superiore Millesimato Extra Dry 2019£8.89
Serafini e Vidotto Prosecco Superiore Conegliano Valdobbiadene 2019£10.50
Tintoretto Prosecco Conegliano Extra Dry£5.97
Valdo Prosecco Etichetta Nera Extra Dry£7.60