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What is Prosecco?

Diane Goettel
By
Updated May 16, 2024
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Prosecco is an Italian sparkling dry white wine made primarily from Glera grapes. These are primarily grown in the Prosecco region of Italy, which includes Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, north of Venice in the Vento region. Under European law, only sparkling wines made with grapes grown in this region can have the name Prosecco, since the names of specific beverages, including some sparkling wines, are protected. Though often compared with Champagne, this wine differs in terms of taste, production, and aging.

Features

This wine is crisp, fruity, and bubbly with a hint of almond and citrus flavor. Though most of the top versions of this wine are made entirely from Glera grapes, some are made with blends. It is made using the Charmat method, which consists of first making a still wine out of the grapes, and then putting that wine in a pressurized steel tank with specific amounts of sugar and yeast. While in the tanks, the yeast and sugar react together to make carbon dioxide, which carbonates the wine. Fermenting the wine in steel tanks instead of in the bottle preserves the taste of the grapes, which gives the wine its fresh, fruity flavor, but also means that can't be aged for very long. All varieties have a low alcohol content compared to other wines, averaging about 11% alcohol.

Varieties

The two main varieties of Prosecco wine are spumante, which is fully sparkling, and frizzante, which is semi-sparkling. Spumante wine undergoes a secondary fermentation process, whereas frizzante wine has carbon dioxide added later prior to bottling. Both varieties are also labeled “Brut”, “Dry” or “Extra Dry,” referring to the sweetness or sugar content measured in grams per Liter (g/L). “Dry” (17-35 g/L) and “Extra Dry” (12-20 g/L) are generally more common than “Brut” (less than 15 g/L).

As Compared to Champagne

Champagne and Prosecco are often compared since they are both sparkling wines and both tend to have a light taste. Like the name "Prosecco," the term "Champagne" is legally protected, and can only be used to refer to sparkling wines made in the Champagne region of France. The main difference between these two wines is the way that they're made and how they age. Unlike Prosecco, Champagne undergoes its secondary fermentation in the bottle it will eventually be sold in, rather than in a tank. This makes it less fruity, and allows it to age for years, as opposed to months. Additionally, Champagne is generally the more expensive of the two, and is sometimes seen as fancier.

Uses

People typically use this wine as an aperitif, or appetizer before meals, as well as during meals and dessert. It is best served chilled between 40°F and 45°F (4.4°C and 7.2°C) and consumed shortly after opening. Unlike other wines that improve with age, Prosecco is at its best during the first three years after bottling. Sparkling wines are not generally used for cooking; however, they can be used to make a light sauce served with grilled salmon or to replace part of the liquid used in making risotto. Prosecco can also be combined with peach puree to make a Bellini, and has become popular as an addition to other sparkling cocktails made with fruit juice and other ingredients.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Diane Goettel
By Diane Goettel
"Diane Goettel has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in English from Brooklyn College. Diane lives in Mount Vernon, New York with her husband, Noah. They are the proud parents of a Doberman Pinscher named Spoon. Specialties: book editing, book marketing, book publishing, freelance writing, magazine publishing, magazine writing, copywriting,"
Discussion Comments
By MrsPramm — On Nov 06, 2012

I always thought of Spumante as a very cheap wine, not something you would drink if you weren't a student.

So, I was surprised when one of my friends (long after I was a student) bought a $50 bottle to share at a party. I guess it comes in all ranges of quality. The nice thing was, the Prosecco price made a huge amount of difference to the taste. The more expensive bottle was definitely much more drinkable.

By pastanaga — On Nov 05, 2012

@anon248278 - You might have been allergic to something in the wine. Have you had wine before? Have you ever had this kind of wine before? It might not be the prosecco drinks themselves, it might be something used in the creation of the wine.

Or you might be allergic to this particular kind of grape, or, unfortunately, you might be allergic to alcohol. I had a friend once who would break out into hives whenever he drank more than a few glasses of anything. To some extent he would even use it as a party trick, although he was lucky that the hives never lasted long if he was careful not to keep drinking.

Just be careful, because if it is an allergic reaction, it could be worse the next time (and it might not be just this particular wine that does it.)

By anon248278 — On Feb 16, 2012

I drank a small container of Winter Citrus Prosecco and now I have hives. It is poison.

By anon199031 — On Jul 21, 2011

how long can you age prosecco?

By anon94630 — On Jul 09, 2010

I stumbled onto a bottle of premium prosecco - Ambassador. It was truly awesome, gentle and nice and left me totally agile all night. The morning after feel was great. fresh and cool. I recommend quite highly.

anon 1133

By anon54588 — On Dec 01, 2009

is this a cocktail wine?

By anon53903 — On Nov 25, 2009

Pronounced: PRO-say-co or PRO-sec-co. Either one's acceptable (yes even in Italy).

By anon52666 — On Nov 16, 2009

I like to drink a bottle of Prosecco while shoveling snow. Bring on the flakes. jeff Minnetonka, Minnesota

By dudla — On Jul 28, 2009

In Croatia, it's called Prošek (pronounced: pro-sheck).

Anon23638/Jo Donovan: Prosecco is pronounced like: pro-seko.

Anon35351 - Prosecco has a lower alcohol content than other wines -- though it all varies based on the actual type of wine and manufacturer -- but, it's something like 11% alcohol.

Mveak - I think that varies too (on the bottle and the glasses your pouring the wine in), but typically 3 - 4 glasses.

By anon35351 — On Jul 04, 2009

What is the alcohol content in Prosecco?

By mveak — On May 06, 2009

How many glasses of Prosseco can one expect to get out of one bottle?

By anon23638 — On Dec 30, 2008

Can you tell me how to pronounce "Prosecco"? hanks, Jo Donovan.

By anon5025 — On Nov 09, 2007

To anon3967. Yes, prosecco should be refrigerated at 55˚F - 45˚F.

By anon3967 — On Sep 26, 2007

should prosecco be stored refrigerated?

By anon1132 — On May 16, 2007

Recently I enjoyed a proscecco by Foss Marai. I liked it so much that I'd like to serve it at my wedding reception, which will consists only of desserts. Is this wine appropriate? Please let me know. Thanks.

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel
"Diane Goettel has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in English from Brooklyn College. Diane lives in Mount...
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