I WAS fortunate enough to be invited to two weddings recently:
the first was a Roman Catholic "society" one in Virginia; the
second was a C of E "village" event in Wiltshire. They had one
thing in common - the sparkling wine that we drank for the toasts,
It is interesting that each of the three most popular sparkling
wines of the moment takes its name from a different aspect of its
creation. Champagne is named after the region in which it is
produced; cava from the way it is produced; and Prosecco from the
grape from which it is made.
The popularity of Prosecco has increased exponentially over the
past three years or so. The reasons for this are mainly price, and
taste. Because the secondary fermentation that creates the bubbles
in the wine takes place in large stainless-steel tanks, the cost of
production is considerably less than for either cava or champagne.
As for the taste, this generally has a hint of sweetness, and the
austerity that one generally expects from champagne is lacking.
Reputedly, the best wines come from the two villages of
Valdobbiadene and Conegliano, and they can add their name to that
of the grape. They also have the DOCG status, the highest rating in
the Italian appellation hierarchy. A third village, Cartizze,
produces Prosecco Superiore di Cartizze. This sells at a distinct
premium in price, but, so an American colleague tells me, tastes no
better. Frizzante (semi-sparkling) and still wines are
also made from the grape, which is also known as the Glera.
Majestic seems to be the leading advocate of Prosecco this
summer. It has five wines, priced from £7.99 for the Prosecco Corte
Alta NV (if you buy two bottles) to the Prosecco La Marca Superiore
2010 DOCG Valdobbiadene, reduced from £16.99 to £14.99. Others I
have tasted include the Prosecco DOC Zardetto NV (M&S, £11.99),
and Valdo Oro Puro Prosecco Superiore Valdobbiadene NV, from
There is no doubt that Prosecco is a welcome addition to the
range of celebratory wines, and it might be a good idea to stock up
with some bottles to celebrate Britain's successes in the
During my visit to the United States, I had one sleepless night
when, in my mind, I compared grape varieties to teams in the
English football leagues. There are some, such as Chardonnay,
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Sauvi-gnon Blanc that might
be considered as permanent fixtures in the premier division.
Others, such as Pinot Grigio, have scrambled up to achieve that
status, and there are others again, such as Vermentino, that
languish in provincial leagues.
Has Prosecco arrived yet, or is it still on an upward path? What
do we hear now of its national colleague, Lambrusco, which not so
long ago was riding high? The international success of Prosecco was
created in the US, where fashionable wines seem to come and go. I
hope that there is a future for this wine in the range of sparklers
on offer. In these times of austerity, cheaper alternatives as
sources of gaiety are always welcome.