Thursday, May 27, 2010

Same Sparkle, Less Lira

I love Champagne.  I would drink it to celebrate the start of the evening news.  Realizing an exciting fact like it was Tuesday, I would send corks flying. I would brush my teeth with it.  I would dab it on as after shave.   I have often and loudly declared my never ending love to it.  Champagne is intrinsicly perfect except for one issue, it is a bit pricey.  Luckily, like the beautiful ugly person in romantic comedies, there is a more accessible hottie.  When the sparkling wine urge hits hard, but the cash reserves are light, there is Prosecco.

Prosecco is an Italian sparkling wine made from the eponymous grape.  The wine,  mainly produced in the Veneto region, may date all the way back to Roman times. However, Prosecco did not see much US importation until 2000.  Once it landed on these shores, Prosecco's  popularity took off faster than a flying cork.

Sparkling wine can be produced using a variety of methods.  Prosecco is made using what is known as the Charmat method.  This process is less expensive than the  traditional method that true Champagnes must use.  Sparkling wine needs to undergo a secondary fermentation.  This is what produces the sparkles in the sparkling wine.  No bubbles, no bubbly.  In a true French Champagne, the secondary fermentation must take place in the bottle.  Each bottle of wine needs to have yeast and some form of sugar added to it.  It is then capped with a standard bottle cap like you find on a beer.  The yeast feasts on the sugar producing the gas to form the bubbles.  In a Prosecco, they just dump the still wine into large tanks with sugar and yeast to undergo the secondary fermentation.  This bulk process is much less expensive than doing it bottle by bottle.  Once the secondary fermentation is complete, the sparkling wine is bottled and rushed to market.  Prosecco waits for no one, it is best enjoyed as fresh as possible.

So, what does this stuff taste like?  It has a nice bright, brisk taste, with  fruit flavors front and center.  Prosecco lacks the bready, biscuity, yeasty flavors that a Champagne has.  While Prosecco does not clone the Champagne taste experience, its own unique flavor is highly enjoyable.  Prosecco is most often enjoyed as an aperitif, but I find it quite food friendly.  The acidy and the carbonation make it a perfect accompaniment to fried foods.

I know, I got you all excited by Prosecco and you are just waiting to be let down. You are expecting me to tell you this stuff is a bargain at $30 a pop.  No fears there, Prosecco is a steal.   You will be hard pressed to find one retailing for more than $20.  The majority are under $15 a bottle.  The nice pink one in the above photo was $10.99.

When the mood to celebrate hits and you wallet has more cobwebs than cash, you now know what to do.  Pick up that bottle of Prosecco, pop the cork, and you won't miss the Cristal.  Well, you may miss it a little, but think of all the bling you can buy with your savings.

1 comment:

Shari said...

honestly, I like champagne to celebrate the start of a new day....nothing like a champagne breakfast!