Without a doubt, Prosecco is one of the greatest success stories in the F&B arena in recent years. With its popularity set to continue, the Prosecco DOC Consortium – Consorzio di Tutela della Denominazione di Origine Controllata Prosecco – is encouraging people to recognise Prosecco not just as a source of fizz, but rather a wine with complex flavours that differ from producer to producer.
First things first. There is Prosecco DOC or DOCG and then there are the fizzy white wines marketing themselves as prosecco. If your ‘prosecco’ does not come out of a bottle with a label describing it as either DOC (Controlled Denomination of Origin) or DOCG (denoting the fact that this Prosecco comes from a small area within the general Prosecco region), then you are not drinking the real thing.
Within the UK, Prosecco DOC has reached an all time high in levels of popularity with the British market now drinking more Prosecco than any other country. Yet we are just unlocking the potential of this particular fizz.
Viewed in much the same way as other sparkling wines such as Champagne and Cava, Prosecco is primarily seen as a celebratory drink, to be drunk as part of a toast or an aperitivo. The Prosecco DOC Consortium, however, is now leading the conversation on Prosecco by communicating its diverse characteristics and encouraging consumers to discover more about the wine – its wide variety of styles and its versatility as a great wine to be enjoyed with many different foods.
All Prosecco may well hail from the same region in the north-eastern part of Italy, however within this region there is a multitude of producers, all individually creating very different wines that can be selected to suit any course throughout a dining experience.
Generally speaking, Prosecco lends itself particularly well to fish and pizza. While its elegant and crisp acidity complements fish perfectly, Prosecco also shares the same tasting notes as the yeast found in pizza dough, making this another ideal match.
Delving further into Prosecco and food matching, the Consorzio looked to Head Chef at the Italian Embassy, Danilo Cortellini, and Neil Phillips, The Wine Tipster and ambassador for Prosecco DOC in the UK, who combined their expertise to demonstrate the wine’s ability to accompany many of our favourite savoury and sweet dishes.
“Prosecco is so diverse it can pair with anything from a simple or elaborate fish or vegetable starter, to seafood first courses and baked fish dishes, as well as with sushi and sashimi, pasta dishes with delicate meat sauces, fresh cheeses and white meat,” says Danilo. “However if you start the evening with a Prosecco, ensure you choose the right one. On the one hand, the bubbles can open your palate before a good dinner, but if you make the wrong choice, it can spoil the appetite.”
Both Neil and Danilo recommend the Prosecco DOC Astoria Galie Extra Dry made by the Polegato family to serve with canapés. “This classy Prosecco, with its green apple and pear fruit and soft, smooth style adds the perfect balance,” says Neil. “It has a rich body, yet is very elegant as a pairing wine.”
Brut, Extra Dry or Dry
Understanding the different styles of Prosecco is also integral to pairing and enjoying the wine throughout a meal.
All Prosecco bottles are categorised either Brut (the driest), Extra Dry (less dry) or Dry (the least dry of the three) – meaning that Brut is actually drier than Dry and consequently has less residual sugar within the bottle. The crisp acidity of a Brut makes it better suited than Extra Dry or Dry to main courses and ingredients such as fresh fish.
Classic Italian plates such as the cheesy Cacio e Pepe – a dish full of rich, tasty umami flavours – requires something like Prosecco DOC Brut Piera Martellozzo, which comes from the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region.
“Piera has created a wonderful portfolio of wines and her award-winning 0.75 Carati Prosecco DOC deserves special mention,” says Neil. “Its ripe fruity flavour, intensity and smooth finish combined with the light fresh acidity and gently persistent bubbles help to clear your palate after every mouthful of pasta, perfectly complementing a dish like Cacio e Pepe, which can seem quite fatty.”
Certain wines from Prosecco DOC can also be paired with delicate meats, rather than the salamis and antipasti boards we usually associate with the wine. More autumnal ingredients such as quail, porcini and truffle pair well with Borga’s Prosecco DOC Brut Treviso Millesimato 2017. The trick here is to pair with a style that guarantees a certain flavour profile.
Millesimato means Vintage and identifies that the Prosecco was produced from grapes from a single year. Around 30% of Prosecco DOC is labelled Millesimato and in the case of Borga’s Millesimato 2017, it produces generous orchard fruit flavours, nutty character and an elegance that gives it structure to pair with such meat dishes.
Prosecco and pizza
Probably the most authentic combination of them all, and one that the Glera grape lends itself extensively to, is that of Prosecco DOC and pizza. The quintessential Italian food that in the UK has often been paired with craft beers because of the common yeast flavourings they both share, can be paired with wines from Prosecco DOC for the very same reason.
It is becoming increasingly common to see Prosecco being offered with pizza and depending on the toppings you choose, you can change the style of Prosecco. Danilo suggests pairing an Extra Dry Prosecco with a complex pizza such as a Capricciosa – artichokes, prosciutto, anchovies, mushrooms and capers. Pizzas such as the classic Margherita pair better with a Brut style – Valdo’s Bio Prosecco DOC Biologico Brut, for example, which is made from certified organic grapes and has an impressive intensity and freshness with flavours of red apples and white peach that cuts through the tomato.
2018 looking good
Following near perfect growing conditions throughout the 2018 season, the Consorzio is anticipating this year’s production to be one of the best on record as the ideal weather has resulted in great flavour and an excellent acidic profile throughout the 24,450 hectares of the Prosecco DOC region.
Prosecco Prosecco is a Controlled Denomination of Origin (DOC) that was officially recognised at European level in July 2009. The vines that produce Prosecco are found exclusively in north-east Italy, in Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia, between the Dolomites and the Adriatic Sea. The particular interaction between the climate, the soil and the winemaking tradition gives rise to Prosecco DOC. www.prosecco.wine/en