CONTINUING in the festive mood, Prosecco is an Italian white wine named after a village near Trieste and produced in the Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia regions.
First mention of the name is attributed to the British explorer Fynes Moryson, when he visited Italy in 1593.
The most popular Prosecco is spumante (sparkling), but there is also frizzante (semi-sparkling), and the rarely exported tranquillo (still). Depending on sweetness, Proseccos are labelled Brut, Extra Dry or Dry.
Prosecco is made from Glera grapes, but up to 15 per cent of other grapes may be included, including Verdiso, Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir. The bulk of Prosecco DOC is grown on low-lying plains, while the higher quality Conegliano Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG is produced exclusively in a small area on hillside vineyards.
Growing in popularity over the last 40 years, Prosecco exports have been increasing by double-digit percentages since 1998. Approximately 150 million bottles are produced annually, with the UK the biggest importer consuming 25 per cent of all production.
Unlike Champagne, Prosecco is produced using the Charmat-Martinotti method, in which the secondary fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks instead of in the bottle
Served chilled it should be drunk preferably within three years of its vintage, with only exceptional quality bottles aged longer.
Meant to taste fresh and light, its aromatic and crisp flavour brings apple, pear, peach and apricot to mind.
Prosecco is usually drunk as an aperitif, but Brut can be paired with Parma, mild cheeses, sushi, seafood and dim sum, while the extra dry goes well with Panettone, sponge cakes, macaroons, mousses and parfaits.
It can also be used in cocktails including Bellini plus Spritz, and substitute Champagne in the Mimosa.
Cin cin and happy tasting!