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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.
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.
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.
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.