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Prosecco 101

Magical Realist Offline

"Whether you enjoy the occasional glass of sparkling wine (or are a self-professed sparkling wino like us) we can pretty much guarantee that you’ve had a glass of Prosecco at some point. Prosecco has become so popular that last year producers even sparked concerns of a global shortage! ? So what is Prosecco exactly? What makes it different from Champagne? And why do people love it so much? Sit back – and while you’re at it pour yourself a glass of this sensational Italian sparkling wine – because we’re about to break down everything you need to know about Prosecco!

What Is Prosecco?

In its simplest form, Prosecco is a sparkling white wine produced primarily from the Glera grape in the Veneto region of Italy. But like any wine, it’s a whole lot more complex than that! ?

How Is Prosecco Made?

Prosecco is produced in the Charmat method (sometimes called “Cuve Close”, “Metodo Italiano”, “Metodo Martinotti” or the “Tank Method”). This method is different from from the “Traditional Method” (or the “Méthode Champenoise”) that is used to produce Champagne. We’ve illustrated the steps of Prosecco production in this handy infographic below:

[Image: CFwhoGI.jpeg]
[Image: CFwhoGI.jpeg]

Step 1: The grapes are harvested early to maintain high acid levels and are then sorted to ensure only the highest quality fruit is used to produce Prosecco.
Step 2: The grapes are gently pressed to produce a clear juice.
Step 3: This clear juice is fermented (usually in stainless steel tanks for a maximum of 8 – 10 days), resulting in a still (dry) base wine.
Step 4: Once complete, the base wine is transferred to sealed and pressurized stainless steel tanks (called “autoclaves”) where a mixture of sugar and yeast is added to begin the second fermentation. Since these tanks are sealed and pressurized the CO² (carbon dioxide) produced during the fermentation (from the conversion of sugar to alcohol) cannot escape and remains trapped in the wine. Yay, baby bubbles!
Step 5: Once the second fermentation is complete (about 10 more days), the wine is filtered to remove any lees (residual yeast) or sediment, and the “dosage” (a mixture of sugar and still wine) is added to bring the wine to its desired sweetness level.
Step 6: From there the wine is bottled – still under the same amount of pressure as it was in the tank – using a special bottling machine.
Step 7: The bottles run through a high-tech labeling machine, and voila!
The result? Deliciousness!

But beyond that – sparkling wines made in this Charmat method are produced in a much shorter amount of time (sometimes in as little as a few weeks) and at a much lower cost than those made in the traditional Champagne method. That helps to explain the $15/bottle price point.

But does that mean that one method is better than the other? Not necessarily. It does, however, make for two very different styles of wine. The Charmat method produces youthful wines that are fresh, fruity and vibrant – and meant to be enjoyed that way. Unlike Champagne, Prosecco doesn’t typically improve with age and should be enjoyed within 2 years of purchase. That being said, as we learned in Italy, a higher quality Prosecco Superiore (DOCG) can maintain its vibrancy for up to 7 years (more info on Prosecco Superiore below)!

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