„Dry”, That Means „Sweet”. How to Decipher Prosecco and Live Happily Ever After

Talking about the best aperitifs I could write for example about Champagnes and it would be a quite obvious choice. Why? Because they are in my opinion one of the best aperitifs in the world. It won’t be too risky to say that they’re the best wines in the world. But, because of its lower price, Prosecco rules the world of sparkling wines whether we like it or not. Good news is that sparkling snobs of the world can find Prosecco that will appeal to their noble taste. Impossible? Let’s see.

Prosecco can’t be as great as Champagne, and this is indisputable. Full stop. But this Spring, instead of visiting Champagne – my dream destination – I went for a press trip organized by Consorzio Tutela Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG, a body responsible for everything that is happening in the fatherland of famous Italian fizz. On 21th of May, I was in a major annual tasting called Vino in Villa in a beautiful 13th-century castle of San Salvatore di Susegana and the day after – a blind tasting of 50 Proseccos followed by a conference in Conegliano with authorities of Consorzio. After these events and a few visits to the wineries, I’m quite sure that one thing that is happening in the appellation right now is change.

It’s all about going more and drier but most Proseccos still contain some amount of sugar that is clearly noticeable. To be more precise, for Brut version the sugar level lays somewhere between 0 and 12 grams per litre. The wines are very light but aromas are more „serious” – consider sour citrus fruits and vegetal hints along with mineral, sometimes bread notes. If served at 6-8°C, Prosecco Brut is very enjoyable on its own or with fish and vegetable-based hors d’oeuvres as well as pasta or rice with seafood. The most outstanding brut versions of Prosecco  (in my opinion) are:

Rive di Soligo Millesimato 2015, Millesimato 2016 and Biologico Millesimato 2015 by Biancavigna
Tre Venti Rive di Ogliano, Viti di San Mor Rive di Cozzuolo 2016 by Zardetto
Millesimato 2016 by Nani Rizzi
26°I Rive di Col San Martino 2016 by Andreola
DOC Treviso 2016 and Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG 2016 by Il Colle
Canah 2016 by Perlage
Calpena by Lucchetta Marcello
ValdobbiadenBrut by Santa Eurosia
Belncanto Brut by Bellussi

French term brut means ‘dry’, so everything is clear and understandable so far. Let’s come further.

Extra Dry Prosecco contains something between 12 and 17 grams of residual sugar per litre and it’s the most traditional version of this wine. Usually, it bursts with fresh apples, pears and citrus fruits aromas with floral undertones reminding acacia blossom which I absolutely adore. With crisp acidity, the wine is excellent as an aperitif. Like Brut, it should be served at 6-8°C and thanks to its creamy texture you can easily pair it with a wide range of appetizers and main dishes, for example, pasta with fish or delicate meat sauces. The very good acidity will easily cut through white meats – think poultry cooked or baked with fruits. Examples worth mentioning are:

Bottega Il Vino dei Poeti

Rive di San Michele 2016 by Sommariva
Sirocol Extra Dry by Ca’ Salina
Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Extra Dry by Cenetae
Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Extra Dry by Tenuta 2 Castelli
Extra Dry Cuveé by Vigne Matte
Giustino B. Extra Dry by Ruggeri
Il Vino dei Poeti Extra Dry by Bottega
Millesimato Extra Dry 2016 by Biancavigna
Sgàio 2016 and Quorum 2016 by Perlage
Rive di Farra di Soligo Millesimato Extra Dry by La Farra

And now, the best part. What is called Dry in Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG is a wine that contains 17 to… 32 grams of sugar per litre! Many examples available worldwide are oversweetened and slightly too much alcohol. But let’s talk about the decent ones. Aromas of fresh citrus fruits and white peaches go along with green apples. The sugar doesn’t overwhelm your palate, but to moderate its sweetness, it is useful to serve it slightly cooler than its drier cousins, at around 6°C. This style is suitable for your experimental and spicy fusion cuisine – try it for example with tarts, spicy Asian foods and Tex-Mex. Wineries such as La Tordera, Il Colle and Foss Marai produce top-notch dry Proseccos in prestigious microappellation Cartizze DOCG.

Brut means dry, dry means actually sweet – words can be tricky in Italy. No matter what level of sugar they contain, the best expressions of Prosecco are well balanced by very good acidity and have adorable fruity and floral aromas, sometimes enriched by mineral notes.

It’s not actually the latest news that more and more winemakers produce their Prosecco in more and drier (English dry, not Italian dry) style. Some of you might notice that many wine bars and fine restaurants want Prosecco to be versatile but definitely not too sweet. It’s absolutely OK for me, as I prefer bone-dry versions of my fizz. On some labels, we can find name Brut Nature. It means that we have the bone-dry style of Prosecco with practically no sugar. Among the best, try these:

Col Vetoraz Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Dosaggio Zero

Otreval Rive di Guia by La Tordera
Dosaggio Zero Brut by Col Vetoraz
Zero Brut by Duca di Colle

Want something different? An obvious choice for wine explorers may be Ruio Brut by Malibran. The wine is well known worldwide and represents a more „wild” style of Prosecco. It’s aged with the lees in the bottle which results in a quite different character of the wine. Fans of Méthode Traditionelle or Champenoise can also rejoice – few producers make successful experiments with this technology. Quite rich, elegant and well balanced sparkling wine is Metodo Classico Numero 10 Brut by Valdo.

Perlage Canah

A movement towards organic viticulture is also getting stronger in Prosecco. All production in Il Colle winery is organic, also producers like Biancavigna or Perlage offer interesting and sometimes unusual – in a good way – examples of Prosecco.

One of my friends once said that there is a disease in Italy called Glera (the grape variety used to produce Prosecco). Let’s say it again: Prosecco just can’t be as complex as Champagne, Franciacorta or Cava because of the character of Glera. It has a slightly different function in our life.  (This is a good starting point of the article about the role of wine on our lives, isn’t it?) What is sure for me is that one should not underestimate continuously changing and innovative approach to the production of this traditional fizz. Remember we are in the land of great artists and inventors!


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