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Every glamorous lady ought to start the day with a smile and end it with Prosecco. Pop, fizz, clink…millions of singing bubbles tickle the taste buds as ice-cold sparkling wine dances on the tongue, flooding the senses with Italian delight.

Prosecco is Italy’s answer to French Champagne. Made with highly aromatic Glera grapes, good quality Prosecco is every bit as elegant and festive as Champagne. This makes it perfect for the next New Year’s Eve party. With only two months to go until the time ball drops again, it’s time to start planning your year-end bash.

Our advice?

End the year with Prosecco and start the New Year with a smile. It is never too early to beat the holiday crowds and start stocking up on good bubbles to see you through the festive season and that all-important New Year’s Eve razzle-dazzle.

Superior quality DOCG Prosecco plays in the same quality league as French Champagne but at a lower price point. So why not double up on good quality Prosecco and forget about running out of bubbles before the party ends?

What is Prosecco Wine?

A cold, crisp glass of Astoria Prosecco DOC on a balmy summer afternoon.
A cold, crisp glass of Astoria Prosecco DOC on a balmy summer afternoon.

Prosecco is white Italian sparkling wine, known in Italian as Spumante (sparkling), compared to Frizzante (semi-sparkling) and Tranquilo (still/no bubbles). The differences between Prosecco and Champagne start with the grapes.

How Does Prosecco Differ from Champagne?

Where Champagne is most commonly made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes, Prosecco is made from a minimum of 85% Glera grapes. Other grape varietals like Chardonnay or Pinot Noir may be added, but no more than 15%. Otherwise, it’s not Prosecco.

The second major difference between Prosecco and Champagne (or any MCC) is found in the production method.

Both are double fermented, but while Champagne and MCC’s second fermentation is in-bottle (Methode Cap Classique), Prosecco is produced using the Charmat Method. Here a large volume of wine goes through a second fermentation in large tanks before being bottled under pressure.

Which is better for Wine Ageing: Champagne or Prosecco?

If you are looking for bubbly with good ageing potential, steer clear of Prosecco. With a higher sugar to acid ratio than Champagne, Prosecco is sweeter and has a lower ageing potential than its French counterpart. Its crisp flavours are meant to be enjoyed as young as possible, while the acidity and fruit flavours are still fresh.

While certain Champagnes could improve with some ageing, Prosecco can actually go stale if you hang on to it for too long.

What do DOC and DOCG mean?

With Prosecco still being relatively new to South African wine drinkers and a wide variety of exquisitely beautiful Prosecco bottles available on the shelves, choosing which to buy could be tricky.

Prosecco doesn’t have a geographic indicator of quality like Champagne does. To make things a little easier, all wines produced in Italy, including Prosecco, is labelled DOC, DOCG or just plain Prosecco. This gives Italian winemakers credit for the superior quality their hard work produces.

Is the DOC or DOCG label important when picking Prosecco wine?

When only the finest will do, look for a DOCG label. DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) labelled wines are of superior quality. They conform to the strictest standards and therefore have the highest denomination.

These are also the highest priced (although still below the price of decent entry-level Champagne) but you get what you pay for. DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) wines also have to comply with strict standards, but not quite as strict as DOCG wines. DOC wines are therefore more commonly found are also more reasonably priced – similar to high-end MCC’s.

There is also a third category named ITG (Indicazione Geografica Tipica). This is reserved for wines that may not meet all the standards of a DOC wine but are nonetheless considered good quality. Prosecco is usually labelled DOCG, DOC or just Prosecco.

What are the advantages of Prosecco Wines over Champagne?

The affordability of good quality Prosecco compared to the higher price point for decent entry-level Champagne appears to give the Italian product the competitive edge when it comes to annual sales. According to the Sparkling Wine Observatory, Prosecco sold 307 million bottles to Champagne’s 304 million in 2013.

Where does Prosecco wine come from?

The location and proximity of the Prosecco region about an hour’s drive from Venice somehow today remains a secret to many people. Could it be because Prosecco doesn’t have the geographic indicator Champagne does?

Presently, anybody who makes sparkling wine from a minimum of 85% Glera grapes can call it Prosecco. Whether growing Glera grapes in Italy, Argentina, Australia, Brazil or Romania, as long as the sparkling wine consists of 85% or more Glera grapes, the winemaker is free to call it Prosecco.

Are geographic indicators important?

Top Prosecco producers have been fighting for years to obtain a geographic indicator of quality like their French counterparts in Champagne has. The geographic indicator makes it illegal to call sparkling wine “Champagne” if it is produced anywhere outside of the Champagne region. This makes it easier to control the application of high production standards for any sparkling wine bearing the sought after Champagne label.

The Prosecco region of Italy is just an hour outside the city of Venice.
The Prosecco region of Italy is just an hour outside the city of Venice.

In the meantime, the Italian DOCG and DOC labels are the best indicators of good quality Italian Prosecco.

Where can you find the best Prosecco wine?

The best Prosecco is produced in the northeast region of Italy on steep land that is extremely difficult to tend. Although the town of Prosecco is the birthplace of Prosecco, it is no longer where the best Prosecco is produced. Today the best Prosecco is made a few clicks to the west in the two regions of Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia.

Prosecco DOC is produced in nine areas across the two regions, spanning about 20,000 hectares of relatively flat land. To find the highly regarded Prosecco DOCG, you have to narrow your search further to a small 6,586-hectare area within the Veneto region of Italy, located between the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene.

This is also where you’ll find Cartizze, the Grand Cru of the Prosecco region. At around 1000 feet above sea level and consisting of only 107 hectares of land, the sparkling wine produced here is rated as the best DOCG you can find. So exquisite is the Prosecco DOCG produced on this land that the vineyards within Cartizze have been estimated to be worth up to two million Euros per hectare!

Best food to pair with Prosecco

Superb Prosecco deserves excellent food pairing. Being a little bit sweeter than Champagne, a good Prosecco shines at its brightest with seafood, savoury cheeses, cured meats or fruits as well as Asian dishes and sushi.

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