Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Prosecco Secrets: Fruity? Dry? … or even Drier?!

Welcome to the third part of Prosecco Secrets.  For some people, the drier the sparkling wine the better, for others only Muscat or Asti Spumante will do. Part of the reason for Prosecco’ success is that is sits right in the middle of this debate. Prosecco is made in different styles and in this post we will discuss all these variants enabling you to order the one you really like next time you are in a restaurant or ... of course order from our shop.
The technical bit first
I will always remember the frustration as a kid – Yes, in Italy our wine education starts early… - when trying to understand why decisively fruity and perceptibly sweet sparkling wines was called “Dry” and very, very dry ones were called “Brut” instead of “Super Mega Extra Dry” or anything a 9 yo could come up with! So in order to prevent any similar upset, let us start with some useful data.
These are the official sugar contents of sparkling wines according to Commission Regulation (EC) No 607/2009 of 14 July 2009 [7]

Sugar content
(grams per liter)
Brut Nature (no added sugar)
Extra Brut
Extra Dry, Extra Sec, Extra seco
Dry, Sec, Seco
Demi-Sec, Semi-seco
Doux, Sweet, Dulce

In bold are the styles in which Prosecco is made and as one can see, for all wines, there is an - almost – semantically correct correlation between their level of sweetness and what’s on its label. So, why label a wine “Brut” as opposed to say “Super Mega Extra Dry”? Here’s why.
The term Brut was coined by the French, somehow maybe as a pejorative slang deriving from the French word Brute, after Perrier-Jouët, a famous champagne house, decided not to sweeten his 1846 vintage prior to exporting it to London. After that first instance, more houses followed until the designation Brut Champagne, the modern Champagne, became officially accpted in 1876.[9] Simple!
But enough about the mother of all sparkling wines and let’s carry on talking about Prosecco, the New Star of sparkling wines! As mentioned, Prosecco is produced in three styles, Brut, Extra Brut and Dry. First off is Prosecco Brut.

Prosecco Brut: 0 – 12 grams of sugar per liter
Prosecco Brut is a light-coloured sparkling wine that has a citrus-lemon-lime taste to it.  It pairs well with a wide variety of foods such as rice and pastas with light sauces, fish – and vegetable dishes.  It is also the best one for those of us that are on a diet as is the one with the lowest sugar levels (in a future Prosecco Secrets Post we will discuss how sugar becomes part of the wine; don’t miss it!).  In this style of Prosecco, if well made as our Prosecco Brut DOCG by Vettori, the balance between sweetness and acidity will be just perfect for those looking to clench their thirst while tasting a hint of sweetness to caress the taste buds. Ideal for those who normally drink Brut Champagne as it is the closest Prosecco it’ll ever get to it; remember: comparing Prosecco with Champagne it’s like comparing apples and pears. 

Prosecco Extra Dry: 12 – 17 grams of sugar per liter
The second type of Prosecco is the light straw coloured ‘Extra Dry’ variant. Despite its name, it is actually fruiter than the Brut.  The ‘Extra dry’ is sometimes called “off-dry” which indicates that the wine is dry, but with a distinct touch of sweetness.  In Italy the Extra Dry variant is considered to be the most conventional Prosecco of all three variants available. It is a delicious wine to drink as an aperitif, with summer dishes or with creamy cheeses.  At the Italian Wine Boutique we have a real one for you to try: the Vettori Brut DOCG. It is an elegant, clean-cut Prosecco with apple overtones, wisteria and acacia flower fragrances and a round, pleasantly acidulous and well-balanced taste, brought to your senses by an exceptional silk texture on the palate.

Prosecco Dry: 17 – 32 grams of sugar per liter
The Prosecco Dry is a real rarity on the wine market outside Italy. Although both Proseccos Brut and Extra Dry varieties were featured in Decanter’s magazine supplement “Italy 2011” the Dry variety did not even receive a mention! (Decanter, Italy 2011. Whites: Sparkling, Beyond Prosecco, January 2011, p.23 – p.26). If you research the Italian market or just use google.it, you will soon find out that of Prosecco Dry is easily available.
Dry Prosecco sometimes is called ‘Amabile’ which means ‘slightly sweet’ or ‘Dolce’ that can be translated as sweet but not as sweet as a Muscat or a dessert wine.  It tastes of apples, peach, lemon and it is the perfect partner for spicy and asian foods. Watch out because the Prosecco Dry variety will be soon available from our online shop. However if you like hot Indian food and you cannot wait, try any of the sweet wines in our section  and be ready to give your taste buds the experience of a life time!

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