I’m not one for resolutions for the New Year, especially when it comes to eating and drinking. It’s all about moderation! I did a no-booze January once in my life and that was plenty, marked that one off the bucket list. I do envision goals and one of them for this year is to share some of my passion for food and wine pairing with readers of this blog. The worst part about not drinking in January (or not drinking in general) is that food is then left with some uncovered potential. In small quantities, not a whole bottle, wine can really elevate an eating experience. The acidity in the wine, the aromatic nuances, sumptuous savory notes echoed on the palate all help to bring out the best in the food you’re dancing around with.
Let’s talk a minute about wine. Italian wine.
Did you know that Italy produces several types of sparkling wine? The most common assumption is that all sparkling wines are “champagne.” By this point, I hope people know that Champagne is a region and that getting to know French and Italian wines is a bit of a flash card-worthy memory exercise. Don’t be hard on yourself and don’t expect to know everything. Humility in your wine ignorance will only take you further in your thirst for knowledge! There are countless wine appellations in Italy and each of them dictate (usually) suspect grape varieties. Such as Sangiovese in Chianti Classico, Nebbiolo in Barolo, and Aglianico in Taurasi. Going further, each appelation has sub regions that have a unique set of elemental conditions, terroir and micro-climates. Within THAT, you have to decipher which producers are worth their juice. It’s not enough picking a Barolo for name’s sake. The producer needs to be good in combination with having a unique plot of land. Having that said, I usually don’t have such discrimination when it comes to prosecco. Wine, like in life, we choose our battles. If after a grande vino (a great wine), pay closer attention to the producer. If after some good everyday bubbly usually in the form of prosecco, perhaps choose a bottle from the Valdobbiadine (usually written on the label) in lieu of scratching your head for the best producer of prosecco. Valdobbiadine is a small area within the confines of the Prosecco DOC within the province of Treviso in the Veneto. What makes this area special for Prosecco is that its hilly, at a higher altitude and has cool-climate growing conditions which affect the grape’s growing and ripening process to produce more elegant, balanced fruit.
Let’s learn about all the prosecco!
Prosecco is made in the Veneto and Friuli and is made with the Glera grape. It is the most widely available sparkling wine and is quite affordable, especially if you find yourself in Venice. It’s simple, crisp and its characteristics range from green apple to apricot on both the palate and nose. It is meant to be consumed young, so don’t keep a bottle for more than 2 years (as if you could wait). It is usually the base for the favored aperitivo drink Spritz. Based on its fruity, effervescent nature with mouthwatering acidity, it would make friends with something salty or extremely flavorful like asian stir-fry. I always say Prosecco is the perfect potluck wine.
Beyond its recent boom of success and potluck party appearances, Prosecco has over 2000 years of history and its production goes back to the Romans! Prosecco’s Glera grape initially grew nearby on the Karst hills above Trieste. The Prosecco we imbibe in today has expanded and is produced in the neighboring areas of Veneto and Friuli and has been since the beginning of the 20th century.
There are different styles of Prosecco! You will more often see Prosecco Spumante, but also Prosecco Frizzante and Prosecco Tranquillo. Spumante is not the same as Frizzante! The perlage (what makes the tiny “pearl” bubbles) dictates the style, so a Frizzante is semi-sparkling compared to Spumante and Tranquillo is you guessed it: still. The main difference between Prosecco and Champagne, apart from the fact they come from 2 distinctly different regions and grape make-up, is how they are made. Prosecco is fermented via “tank method” vs the traditional in-bottle method that Champagne makes its bubbly stuff in. In Florence, I lead food and wine pairings to contrast the differences of traditional vs tank method sparkling Italian wines. Franciacorta for example is a wine region in Lombardy which produces Traditional in-bottle fermented sparkling and uses international grape varieties (primarily Chardonnay) for its blend. Basically, we say that Franciacorta is the Champagne of Italy. Back to Prosecco: the DOC of Prosecco is split between the territories within the Veneto (including Treviso) and the Friuli (including Trieste). Treviso and Trieste are considered the most precious for its production (as explained before with Valdobbiadine as well as its historical significance for this bubbly stuff dreams are made of. By the way, for those curious about the meaning of DOC, it is the delegated area (appellation) of production for a certain kind of wine but there is no set standard guarantee for quality consistency like wines from DOCG appellations.
Other Italian sparkling wines include: Lambrusco, Franciacorta, Durello, Pignoletto, Trentadoc, Moscato D’Asti and grower sparkling made in the traditional method in various regions throughout Italy. In Montalcino, I’ve met producers who use some of their Sangiovese to make traditional method Rose’ but only for their consumption or to sell as limited treats. I sometimes find that these are the best bubbly- the rare collection from producers in caliber wine appellations.
Now let’s drink all the prosecco with all the food
My favorite food pairings for prosecco:
Now that you know about some of the things about prosecco, go get some! Have some favorite food pairings of your own? Leave a comment!
In your bubbly trust,
Did you know that you can learn (and taste) even more with food and wine pairings in Florence? Contact me to join one of the wine and treat feasts! Like this post? Subscribe and stay in touch on insta, twitter and FB (all @curiousappetite)