Bubbling Prosecco is now one of the UK’s most popular alcoholic drinks. Not all varieties deliver profound lasting flavours and the bubbles may dissapear quickly, but this sparkling white wine’s production cost is much less than that of Champagne because it is bulk fermented in large tanks rather than in individual bottles and thus its purchase price is less, too. At about 11 or 12%, Prosecco is lower in alcohol content than Champagne, another perceived attraction.
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Genuine Prosecco has a DOC (Denominazione di origine controllata) rating clearly visible on the label, but this guarantees only its correct geographical origin and not the quality, the variety of grapes or how long ago it was bottled. Most are based on the Glera grape but other varieties may be used.
There are two styles of Prosecco. A spumante will usually be more expensive, possibly because it has undergone a secondary fermentation in the bottle, offering heightened flavours and more, longer lasting bubbles. A frizzante or gentile will have far fewer bubbles, as would a cremant from France. Once always quite sweet, Prosecco is available these days as Brut, Dry and Extra Dry.
Prosecco is made to taste light, fresh and lively, so it should be drunk young and at most within three years because it slowly deteriorates in the bottle rather than improving the way that Champagne and wine might do.
Why would you? Best drink it chilled as a stand-alone aperitif or as a drinking companion to something equally light in flavour.
In a cocktail, Prosecco’s flavours and sparkle are easily overpowered, which is true even in the famed Bellini cocktail, made with pureed white peaches and prosecco; that combination is a reminder of one the simplest ever classic desserts.
Fill tall glasses about half way with sliced peaches, just cover these with prosecco and let them exchange flavours for at least two hours in a refrigerator, half that at room temperature. Just before serving, top up with more, very cold Prosecco and serve with the most elegant forks you own. First, you slowly eat the Prosecco-laced peaches, which are further plumped by your forking and then you drink the prosecco flavoured by the peaches.