Prosecco is an Italian dry, citrus sparkling wine. Italy's answer to a refreshing sparkling wine, made predominantly from a white grape varietal called Glera. The grape is grown mainly in the northern region of Veneto in the foothills of the Alps, traditionally in an area near Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, north of the city Treviso. It is believed that Glera was already produced in Roman times and is one of the oldest wine grapes in Italy ranking approximately 14th in importance among the country's 2000+ grape varieties.
The name of Prosecco is derived from the northern Italian village of Prosecco (Trieste), where the wine is believed to have its primary origins. Up until the 1960s, Prosecco was generally sweet and barely distinguishable from the Asti Spumante wine produced in Piedmont.
Since then, Prosecco production techniques have improved considerably, leading to the high-quality dry, fresh, citrus focused sparkling wines produced today, across the region.
Since 2009 Prosecco is protected as a DOCG, as Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene, Prosecco di Conegliano and Prosecco di Valdobbiadene.
Prosecco is a combination of 85% Glera and 15% of Verdiso, Bianchetta, Perera and Glera Lunga grapes, and in a few recent expressions a small amount of Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. Prosecco is made using the 'Charmat Method' (Metodo Italiano) rather than the Champagne method. The Charmat method allows the wine to go through the second fermentation in pressurised tanks rather than in individual bottles.
The much shorter, more controlled secondary tank fermentation process is preferable for Prosecco, because it preserves the freshness, aromatics and the citrus flavours of the Glera grape. Most Prosecco wine achieves lower alcohol levels of (11% to 11.5%) and are best consumed within 2-3 years after bottling, or of its vintage, but the highest-quality Prosecco wines can be aged for up to 7 years.
In 2007 approximately 150 million bottles of Prosecco were sold worldwide, with approximately 60% of all Prosecco being made in the Conegliano and Valdobbiadene areas. In 2013 there were 307 million bottles of Prosecco wines sold worldwide, for the first time out selling Champagne sales of 304 million bottles.
Italians consider Prosecco an ideal apperitivo or ombrette (pick-me-up). Prosecco is also delicious when combined with fresh peach juice to make Venice's most famous cocktail, the Bellini and Poinsettia. Prosecco is crisp and clean and pairs nicely with seafood - especially calamari, shellfish and crab-meat; best served in a 'tulip shaped glass' at 6-10ºC, enjoy.