Prosecco is another type of sparkling wine. It originates from the Veneto region in Northeast Italy but other approved areas to produce it are located in the Friuli-Venezia region. It is mostly made with the Glera grape but new as of this year is a Prosecco Rosé, DOC. This rosé can also contain up to 15% PInot Nero (Pinot Noir) which is found in many other off white sparkling wines around the world. Prosecco has DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) certification, which is lower quality than DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita). Any Prosecco labelled Superiore DOCG and Superiore di Cartizze DOCG originate from more precise areas in the Veneto. The distinction between the two classifications is a guarantee by the Italian government of a higher quality of wine associated with DOCG.
Unlike the other styles of sparkling wine we have covered to date, Prosecco undergoes a different process to become sparkling. Tank method fermentation (Charmat) is a method employed to prevent the autolytic flavors from the dead yeast (lees) used in the traditional method. It accomplishes this by having the secondary fermentation occur in a large tank. The lees are filtered out but because there is so little contact between the wine and the lees, the wine lacks the bread notes that are notable in sparkling wines like Champagne. Also, because completing secondary fermentation in a tank requires far less labor and time, the wines are inexpensive. Another main difference is the size and persistence of the bubbles. The bubbles are directly linked to the amount of pressure the wine is under during the secondary fermentation process (some really cheap sparkling wines undergo carbonation instead of a second fermentation). The greater the pressure the wine is under, the smaller the bubbles (they dissolve into the wine at high pressure). Wines made utilizing the Methode Champenoise are under about 5-6 atmospheres of pressure (73-88 PSI) while wines using tank method are under about 3 atmospheres of pressure (44 PSI). By comparison, beer is about 1.5 atmospheres of pressure. If you compare the three, beer will lose its carbonation first, and wine made by the Methode Champenoise will be last.
This week, I will be pairing a NV (non-vintage) Benaccetto Prosecco with buttered popcorn for movie night! Wines are listed as NV when juice is blended from multiple vintages to create the final product. This is especially common in sparkling wines and dessert wines like Port or Sherry. The Prosecco is a medium lemon yellow with persistent bubbles around the rim and center of the glass. It emits aromas of honey, lemon, lavender, hibiscus, and green apple. The popcorn was popped in my instant pot using ghee (clarified butter) to help keep the burn point of the fat higher than normal butter, as well as remove the water and solids to keep the popcorn light (and keep it from getting soggy). The butter is minimized by the effervescence in the wine. The hint of sweetness in the corn kernels pairs lovely with the residual sugar in the Prosecco, while the light salt brightens the sweet components of each. The salt also makes the fruit notes in the wine sparkle. It tastes of bright meyer lemon, cantaloupe, green apple, honeysuckle, and honeydew, all made fresher and brighter with the influence of the salt. The pairing is simple but very delightful. Perfect for any time of year!