What Is Prosecco

What is Prosecco? Prosecco is, quite simply, the sparkling wine of Italy. Made in a specific region of northeastern Italy with a specific grape, there is nothing else quite like it.

Read on to learn all about Prosecco, Italian wine regions, and Prosecco classifications. Or just jump on down to find my favorite Prosecco cocktails.

clusters of prosecco grapes on the vine.
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Prosecco grapes

Prosecco must have at least 85% of the Glera (prounounced “gler-a”) grape. Glera is a green grape with high acidity and delicate flavor profile that gives Prosecco flavors ranging from citrus and floral notes to apple and peaches.

 

What is the Prosecco classification?

The four Italian wine classifications go from Vino da Tavola (VdT, table wine) to Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT), Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC), and finally Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG). Only wines that come from the specific DOC and DOCG can be called Prosecco.

The Prosecco DOC and DOCG

The Prosecco DOC encompasses a broad geographical area that includes the Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia regions in Northeast Italy. The DOCG is set on the steep hillsides within Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, which you can see in the photo I took on a recent trip along the Strada del Prosecco, or Prosecco Road

Views of hilly countryside from the Prosecco Road in Valdobbiadene, Italy.

DOCG wines, identified by the blue label on the bottle, have stricter production standards and longer aging periods. There’s even a government tasting board that is intended to guarantee the quality of Prosecco and to ensure the distinct flavors that define what is Prosecco.

Is Prosecco sweet?

Like Champagne, Prosecco is characterized by its residual sugar content. While you can indeed find sweet Prosecco, sweetness does not define what is Prosecco, depending on your palate, mood, and food pairings.

seven flutes lined up with labels showing their residual sugars and their styles, from brut to dry to sweet.
  • Brut: The Bruts are the driest Prosecco, with minimal residual sugar, providing a crisp and refreshing taste, perfect as an aperitif and complement to rich and fatty foods.
  • Extra Dry: Slightly sweeter than Brut, with a touch of sweetness that enhances the fruitiness and roundness of the wine.
  • Dry: Offering a balanced sweetness level, making it a versatile choice for pairing with a wide range of dishes.
  • Demi-Sec: The sweetest style, with noticeable sweetness that pairs wonderfully with light desserts or as a dessert wine itself.

If you ever do a wine tasting to learn all about what is Prosecco, the teaching is that you should taste the driest wines first.

Dr. Joanne Stekler of the Ugly Duckling Bakery blog with glasses for Prosecco tasting.

Prosecco vs. champagne

From its grape varieties to fermentation methods, every aspect contributes to what is Prosecco. One main factor that distinguishes Prosecco apart from Champagne and Cava is its production method. Prosecco relies on the Charmat method in which the second fermentation, responsible for creating the bubbles, happens in large stainless steel tanks instead of individual bottles.

Prosecco spends about one month in this second fermentation stage, which allows it to be produced at a larger scale and lower cost. It also means it is light with a crisp acidity. In contrast, Champagne has a longer fermentation and must be aged before release, giving it more roundness, complexity, yeasty tendencies, and much bigger price tag.

Metal tanks for Prosecco fermentation and production.

How to open a bottle of Prosecco

Whether your bubbly is an Italian Prosecco or expensive Champagne, you should know how to open your bottle.

  1. Find somewhere you won’t take out an eye or break glass if the cork escapes you.
  2. Remove the wrapping around the cork and wire cage.
  3. Put your hand on top of the bottle and carefully untwist and remove the wire cage.
  4. Now put your hand on the cork and hold it firmly. Slowly and gently rotate the bottle (not the cork) until the cork quietly pops out.

What to serve with Prosecco

Prosecco’s well-balanced acidity makes it a great match for most foods. You can never go wrong with sparkling wine.

Glass and bottle of Prosecco with plates of meats, cheeses, and focaccia.

What are the best Prosecco cocktails?

The classic Prosecco cocktails are the Bellini, made with peach purée, and ubiquitous Aperol Spritz made with Aperol and soda. Pick a Brut Prosecco for these cocktails to balance out the sweetness of the other ingredients.

Check out other Ugly Duckling Bakery cocktails made with sparkling wines, like:

Prosecco FAQs

Shouldn’t you drink Prosecco in a champagne flute?

No, actually, Prosecco and Prosecco cocktails are typically served in a tulip or wine glass. The broader surface area supposedly helps you enjoy the aromatic compounds in the Prosecco. However, please feel free to enjoy your Prosecco in whatever glass you have, as long as it isn’t plastic.

How long does Prosecco last?

Prosecco is meant for drinking! You should drink Prosecco within 6 to 12 months of bottling and definitely within two years. Once opened, you can keep it in the refrigerator for a few days, but it will quickly lose its bubbles.

What is the best Prosecco?

Although I’m sure that some people think they can answer that question, the best Prosecco is the one you like to drink. I’d encourage you to taste and see which suits you most. Please drink responsibly.

What Prosecco tour would you recommend?

If you are heading to Venice or Treviso and want to learn more about Prosecco, I would strongly recommend a Prosecco wine tour with Roberta.

Are you an adventurous home cook looking for inspiration in your weeknight meals and weekend baking? Get inspiration here:

13 Comments

  1. As someone who didn’t know anything about Prosecco apart from the meme of the one girl from Game of Thrones, this was so helpful. Thank you for sharing.

  2. I adore Prosecco but to be honest I haven’t dived into all the details about it! Thanks for providing such a great resource for a Prosecco/ Champagne enthusiast like myself. Can’t wait to try some of your pairing suggestions too!

    1. The older I get, the more I realize how little I know. Charlotte, I’m glad you found a little bit helpful here!

  3. I love learning all about the background of ingredients. I have the perfect Prosecco cocktail to drink next cocktail night!

  4. I tasted Prosecco for the first time on our last trip to Italy. It was so delicious. I can’t wait to pair it with your pasta ricotta and lemon recipe.

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