We spoke to Samantha Aldar from East London Wine School - friends of Prosecco Springs and hosts of our wonderful masterclasses - to get an insider’s guide to everyone’s favourite sparkling wine.
Similar to Champagne, Prosecco is a sparkling wine but from Italy rather than France: Veneto to be specific. Prosecco is made predominantly using a grape called Glera.
The difference is in the process used to get those all-important bubbles into the wine. In a nutshell, wine is made by fermenting grape juice using the addition of yeast. This process creates alcohol and carbon dioxide. During a second fermentation, the carbon dioxide, i.e. those bubbles we love so much, get trapped in the wine, creating sparkling wine.
Unlike Champagne, the second fermentation for Prosecco takes place in large stainless steel tanks, rather than in the bottle. Some say the “tank method” is so efficient, it means Prosecco can be less expensive than other sparkling wines, like Champagne, Cava or Cremant. However, just because it’s efficient, it doesn’t make it a simple wine. The highly aromatic Glera grape combined with the tank method allows those fruit and flower aromatics to shine through and literally bubble up into the beautiful finished product.
Italians say the purpose of Prosecco is to ‘clean the palate, help rid the taste of the three espressos you had in the afternoon, clear the mind, and to help you ease into dinner…’
Aside from the fact there are only 120 calories per glass, Prosecco is easy to order. There are less variables in the taste profile compared with some other wines, so we know how it will taste. Prosecco is ideal on its own, as an affordable celebration or as a cocktail mixer.
Prosecco is best served chilled and in a flute or, if you have one, a Prosecco glass, tall and thin, perfect.
Although some premium Prosecco’s can be aged for up to 7 years, most should be drunk as soon as possible.
Prosecco has fruit and flower aromas. Look out for green apple, melon, pears, honeysuckle and a creaminess on the palate. The acidity, that lovely mouth-watering feeling will be high, making your wine refreshing and crisp on the palate. When choosing your Prosecco, take care the wine is balanced; not too acidic, not too flat, not too sweet. The bubbles should be light, spritzy, have a persistency to them and not disappear too quickly, leaving you with a flat still wine in your mouth… what’s the point in that?
At the East London Wine School, we always say “if in doubt, look at the local specialities” - local wines usually pair well with local cuisine. Also, make sure your intensities are matched, a light delicate wine will pair beautifully with a light delicate dish. Veneto local specialities include, wild mushrooms, chestnuts, white asparagus and Treviso radicchio, mild cheeses. Cured meats like Prosciutto wrapped around melon would be delicious.
If you like your Prosecco lightly sparkling, look out for “frizzante” on the label or fully sparkling “spumante”. Plus, there are three levels of sweetness, moving from driest to the sweetest it’s Brut, Extra Dry and Dry.
If you're a Prosecco fan, consider trading up, splash out a little and see if you can taste the difference. We recently tried a Vintage Prosecco from a well-known supermarket. It was amazing and we have recommended for a friend’s wedding. Finally, don’t ever be put off by wine snobs. It’s up to you – if you like the wine and you’re happy with the price, it’s a good wine. The choice is always yours, always.
Of course, if you want to learn more about a specific wine, a region, or gin, whiskey, even beer tastings which will be coming to the school soon, please check out our website at East London Wine School.
Samantha Alder is the owner of the East London Wine School; eastlondonwineschool.com