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PortWatch

April 17, 2013

Prosecco is trendy and affordable

If there’s an official wine of today’s fabulous 21-something generation, it’s the Italian bubbly called prosecco. It’s as “amazing,” as that group would say, as texting or Twitter, while regular Champagne and sparkling wine are as 20th century as email, even Facebook.

U.S. sippers buy a million cases a year, up 35 percent since 2011, according to the wine website shankennewsdaily.com, put out by Wine Spectator magazine’s publisher Marvin Shanken.

Why? It’s trendy, in a group that’s very sensitive to peer values. It’s cheap — one-third the price of big-label champagnes. It’s pleasant. Often lightly sweet, it avoids the tartness and austerity of more expensive sparkling wines. It’s lower in alcohol at 10 percent or 11 percent, as opposed to 12 percent or more for other bubblies

Prosecco is made in two styles, called “frizzante” for the lightly sparkling ones and “spumante” for those with sturdier bubbles. In either case, its bubbles are softer, almost creamy, because they’re under lower pressure than the bubbles in other sparkling wines.

Many hosts serve it at around 40 degrees, a bit cooler than traditional sparkling wines, to avoid overt frothiness.

Prosecco doesn’t put on airs. At around $20 a bottle, it’s fair game for mixers, from strawberries to pomegranate to aromatic bitters or even Limoncello. The famous Harry’s Bar in Venice, Fla., adds peach puree to make its signature Bellini.

Prosecco is made mostly of the ancient, mild white northern Italian grape sometimes called Glera, other times called Prosecco after a nearby village in Veneto, the area around Venice.

It gets its bubbles via the Charmat method — a secondary fermentation in giant stainless steel tanks — unlike upmarket champagnes and sparkling wines, which get them by secondary fermentation inside the bottle. The method is said to produce a bubbly that’s less complex and yeasty, but fruitier.

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