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All you need to know to select the perfect sparkling wine this holiday season
The holidays are all about sparkle, be it the lights, glittery ornaments, beautifully wrapped gifts and, of course, the bubbles in your glass. Choosing the right type of bubbles is just as important as finding the perfect gift.
The most popular type of sparkling wine worldwide is Prosecco. It outsells champagne by the bottle and by 2020, it’s expected that production will top 500 million bottles. But not all Prosecco is created equal. Before you pop open a bottle, or rather even before you lift that bottle off the store shelf, you need to know the differences so you can make an informed choice.
Prosecco is not a generic Italian term for sparkling wine. Genuine Prosecco is a truly unique product of place and time that can only be produced in three different production areas of north-east Italy. The most historical of them is where Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG comes from. That’s the the official name of the wine and, though it might be a mouthful for English speakers, this name on the bottle offers certainty that it is authentic Prosecco Superiore and tells the buyer exactly where it hails from. Out of 100 bottles of “Prosecco” on the market, only 16 are Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG. The acronym DOCG (Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin) is the official made-in-Italy stamp of approval that assures consumers of both its quality and place of origin.
The Conegliano Valdobbiadene hills, the remarkable viticultural area that produces Prosecco Superiore, is situated in the lush, verdant, northern Italian region of Veneto. It is because of the unusual geographical and agricultural characteristics of this beautiful region that UNESCO recognized Conegliano Valdobbiadene in 2019 as a World Heritage site, making it the 55th place in Italy to receive this special designation. The Prosecco Superiore Hills are distinctive terraced vineyards (this particular type of terrace system is called “ciglione”), the size of which are limited in both width and height that climb up the sides of the hills from the valley floor. Since the 17th century, generations of vintners have cultivated the land in a manner that has produced a mosaic landscape. The vines are planted in grassy areas, rather than in rock or bare soil, with the vineyards interspersed with wooded areas and other non-producing land creating a unique and effective ecological network.
In 2010, the Prosecco grape was renamed Glera, which has been indigenous to the area for hundreds of years, to protect both the integrity of the region and guarantee the quality of the wine. To make the Prosecco Superiore, winemakers are required to combine 85 per cent of the juice from the golden Glera grapes with the remaining 15 per cent coming from the juice of other types of grapes, most often a Pinot variety, to create that distinctive, flavourful sparkling wine.
With sweetness levels ranging from dry, extra-dry and extra brut being the driest, there is a Prosecco Superiore to appeal to virtually any palate. Even if you can’t pronounce its full name—just stick with the short form Prosecco Superiore—you can certainly enjoy sipping it with friends and family this holiday season.
If you’re in B.C., you can start looking for Prosecco Superiore here.
CREATED BY VANCOUVER MAGAZINE, IN PARTNERSHIP WITH CONEGLIANO VALDOBBIADENE PROSECCO SUPERIORE DOCG