Take a close look at Prosecco

Sparkling Prosecco is more popular than ever, with plenty of bottles being quaffed all through the year. No longer just for celebrations, it’s taken its place as one of the most popular alcoholic drinks in the UK, Ideal Wine Company review the nation’s favourite bubbly.

This ever-increasing market has also led to an increase in producers, styles, flavours and the number of vineyards needed to meet the demand. But what makes Prosecco so popular and why does it taste so good?

Ideal Wine Company Prosecco in flutes
Prosecco is one of Britain’s favourite drinks – what makes it so popular?

Location, location, location

The key flavours in Prosecco come from its grape variety, the production method and, crucially, the location of the vineyards. The Italian favourite is grown in a huge area in north-east Italy, which covers hills, valleys and land just inland of Venice.

With an area of 20,000 hectares up until last year, when another 3,000 ha were added to try and keep up with demand, the region is vast. However, it’s still smaller in size than Champagne, which covers 33,000 hectares and is therefore a third larger than Italy’s Prosecco producing area.

Larger output than Champagne

While its area might be smaller, the region produces more bottles of Prosecco than Champagne manages. In 2016, it produced almost 475 million bottles, significantly more tan the average production of the Champagne region of 320 million bottles of fizz.

This is mostly because the climate in Champagne results in lower yields per hectare. The region contends with frost when the crops are flowering and battles bunch rot during harvest, while Italy doesn’t have the same problems. There is also a very strict process of regulation in Champagne, which further restricts the number of bottles produced.

Best Prosecco areas

The most productive areas are the hills of Montello and Asolo, the regions of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene and the slops of Cartizze.

The grape variety used is also important for the distinct and more-ish flavour of Prosecco. The region took its name from the grape which was known as ‘Prosecco’ until 2009, when it was changed to ‘Glera’.

This was part of a move by growers to protect the region and the product. They registered the word ‘Prosecco’ as a DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata). It was registered with the EU as Prosecco DOC. This effectively means that anyone who grows the Glera grape (which used to be known as Prosecco) outside of the DOC, cannot sell it as Prosecco within the EU.

Floral and fruity

The Glera grape results in a wine with the floral-fruity flavours that we know and love from Prosecco. Most commonly you’ll find aromas of pear and apple, and when really ripe melon and peach.

Other grape varieties are allowed to be used in making Prosecco. These include Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco, but legally all Prosecco must have at least 85 % Glera.

How it’s made

Most Prosecco is made using the Charmat method (also known as the ‘tank’ or ‘Italian’ method. It goes through a second fermentation in a stainless-steel vat and is then bottled under pressure. This is what gives Prosecco its fizz.

Generally, this method gives a fruity, sweet and pleasing sparkling wine, which should be drunk while young. And it’s all of these reasons that make Prosecco the favourite, particularly in the UK, which accounts for a third of all sales.

Prosecco popularity not slowing down

There’s a special day for everything these days, and everyone’s favourite sparkler Prosecco is no different. This year’s National Prosecco Day fell on 13 August 2017, and was celebrated in style, particularly in New York. Ideal Wine Company discover what’s so tasty about this year’s National Prosecco Day.

Ruffino, the major Italian winemaker, got together with The Doughnut Project to come up with a match made in heaven – Prosecco flavoured doughnuts.

Ideal Wine Company prosecco doughnuts
Prosecco doughnuts are the new craze!

Cocktail infused doughnuts

A series of cocktail themed doughnuts had already been showcased celebrating New York bars by The Doughnut Project, so they were the obvious choice for the Prosecco version.

Co-owner of The Doughnut Project, Leslie Polizzotto, says: “We’ve done many alcohol infused doughnuts in the past. Because of our track record, we were approached by Ruffino to do a Prosecco doughnut in honour of National Prosecco Day on 13 August.”

Limited sale window

The tasty treats were on sale at The Doughnut Project’s shop on West Village Morton Street in New York until 20 August. They predictably went down a storm with New Yorkers.

The Prosecco doughnut is the latest in a long line of products aimed at bringing the fizzy favourite ‘out of the bottle’.

Prosecco popsicles

Earlier in 2017, a UK based company called Pops created Champagne and Prosecco Bellini flavoured popsicles. Also on trend were a variety of sparkling wine infused products including wine lollipops and gummy bears flavoured with rosé.

It’s no surprise that Prosecco has captured the hearts and minds of consumers happy to buy spin off products. A survey taken recently by the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) showed that a whopping 97% of those interviewed between the age of 18 and 24 drank Prosecco.

The report also showed that sales of the popular wine leapt by 12% over the last year. Even more impressive, a survey by accountancy group UHY Hacker Young taken in 2016, showed that sales of sparking wine throughout the UK increased by more than 80% from 2011-2016.

Increased consumption is expected to continue with predictions of an increase of around 19% by 2020.

How to make the perfect Mimosa

In the runup to the summer months, cocktails are coming back in full swing. Some of the most iconic cocktails also have the simplest recipes – easy to follow so you have more time to sit and relax! Ideal Wine Company discovers the trick to making a perfect Mimosa for the upcoming summer months.

Ideal Wine Company mimosa
Making the perfect Mimosa.

A bit of background

A Mimosa is one of the most popular cocktails, with citrus tones it is a refreshing summer drink to enjoy with family or friends! It is traditionally served in a tall champagne flute at brunch, and is composed of equal parts of champagne (or an alternative sparkling wine) and a chilled citrus juice. It was believed to have been invented in 1925 in the Hôtel Ritz Paris by Frank Meier. It is thought to be named after the common name in Europe for the yellow flowers of Acacia Dealbata. Similar to a Mimosa, Buck’s Fizz is a variation made with twice as much champagne to orange juice.

The recipe

If you have the time, using freshly squeezed orange juice will leave a lighter, tarty flavour on your palate. It is more delicate than shop bought orange juice which means it makes your Mimosa more enjoyable and tasty!

A classic Mimosa recipe uses equal parts sparkling wine to orange juice, this is the perfect ratio for this tasty cocktail. However, if you are making Mimosas for a party or large group of friends, using less wine will make sure you get maximum usage whilst saving too. An alternative to save on wine but still get enough of an alcohol to juice ratio, is to add a splash of orange liqueur.

When making a Mimosa, the number one rule is to always pour the sparkling wine first before topping with the orange juice. By doing this it ensures that the cocktail has the chance to mix together on its own, which avoids a sticky mess at the top if the glass! There is no need to stir the cocktail either as this will cause the wine to become flat.

Top tips

A top tip for making a Mimosa is to use a dry sparkling wine rather than a sweet one. Spending around £10 on a sparkling wine is advised for a good quality; as well as this using Cava from Spain is an affordable choice. Alternatively, a dry Prosecco is a great option for a Mimosa if Cava isn’t your drink of choice. Another top tip is not to go too cheap in your choice of sparkling wine, this won’t help your drink have delicious taste it should.

A key tip when making a Mimosa is to never serve it warm, the wine and orange juice should be kept refrigerated until they are ready to be served. After pouring the first round, place back in the fridge to keep them chilled and fresh.

Stocking up

If you fancy spending your weekends making delicious Mimosas ready for the summer months, why not visit the Ideal Wine Company Champagne section. Or alternatively Prosecco from the Burke’s Peerage Selection.

Is Brexit set to raise Champagne and Prosecco prices in the UK?

In June 2016, Brexit caused a national storm between whether the country should vote to leave or stay in the European Union.

Once again it seems Brexit is causing more problems for the country, as Champagne and Prosecco prices are set to rise due to inflation and the weakening of the pound.

The changes

Champagne and Prosecco prices are said to rise due to higher inflation and the weakening of the pound. It has also been warned, by the UK’s Wine and Spirit Trade Association, that potential duty increases will cause a rise in the prices of Champagne and Prosecco.

This is said to be by 5 per cent or £1 and by 9 per cent or 59p per bottle. UK Champagne lovers will have to pay a sizeable £2.67 in duty, however in France it will cost just less than 6p. At present, French customers pay 3p versus the £2.08 paid by British customers in duties.

What does this mean?

The wine industry supports 270,000 jobs and contributes £19.9 billion into the UK’s economy. However, many are urging the Chancellor Philip Hammond to make a 2 per cent duty cut, therefore urging more wine sales overall. An average bottle of wine may see an increase of 10% in the UK, an additional 59p per bottle.

In 2016, British wine lovers bought 131 million bottles of sparkling wine from UK shops and supermarkets. This is up 13% from the year previously. A war sparked between British supermarket chains as they applied huge discounts in order to compete against each other.

Facts and figures

Research has shown that sales of sparkling wine has risen by a substantial 80% in the last five years. There’s a huge demand for Prosecco, as it outsold Champagne for the first time in Britain from 2015-16. Contrary to belief, ‘Dry’ January didn’t slow down the sales of Prosecco. According to The Independent, sales of the sparkling Italian wine increased by 79% in January compared to the same month of the year prior.

Our advice? Stock up before it’s too late! Prosecco can be bought from Ideal Wine Company’s Burkes’s Peerage Selection, and Champagne from the range of Champagnes in stock.

Choosing an exemplary Prosecco

Prosecco has become one of the most popular sparkling wines in recent years; last year alone more than 115 million bottles were produced. Prosecco is made in the Veneto region of Italy using Prosecco (Glera) grapes. At 121 calories, it is to a limited extent the lighter option to Champagne at 128 calories. There are five simple tips to choosing the perfect prosecco.

Five straightforward tips

  1. A large area of north-eastern Italy produces Prosecco; however, two small villages produce what is considered the best Prosecco with the highest quality. These villages are Conegliano and Valdobbiadene. If a bottle of Prosecco says ‘Prosecco DOC’ it is likely to not have been produced by either village, however will have been produced in the north-eastern region
  2. Sipping an even more exclusive Prosecco would require purchasing Prosecco made in Cartizze located in the Valdobbiandene Hills. Producing an ultimately high quality Prosecco, it is considered to have a greater standard than that of Prosecco made in Conegliano.
  3. Prosecco should be light and frothy, the Charmat method (fermented in large steel tanks) is used when producing Prosecco. In contrast Champagne is fermented in individual bottles. Prosecco should be fruity and light rather than yeasty and rich.
  4. Prosecco is made using the Glera grape, previously named the ‘Prosecco’ grape, it is the main variation of grape to use. Proseccos with the highest quality use 100% Glera, others may add variants of other grapes, such as Chardonnay or Verdisio, to a blend.
  5. Buying from a local wine merchant increases the chances of a high-quality Prosecco. Wine merchants often self-select bottles their selves, therefore purchasing a high-quality product

Best of the best

The finest Proseccos (also very accessible to be bought) are at a margin of the price of that of Champagne. Many retailers price Prosecco at £15 or under, although the higher end achieving the same price of cheap Champagne it is just as enjoyable. In 2016 sales of Prosecco hit €789 million, however it was still outsold by Champagne at €1.4 billion.

Approximately 77 million litres of Prosecco were bought last year, 25% more than Champagne, therefore explaining the higher Champagne sales. Due to the way that Prosecco is made, it does not benefit from ageing and should be consumed as soon as possible. Prosecco should be served chilled, as would be done with Champagne.

Pizzolato Spumante Prosecco can be bought from Ideal Wine Company’s Burke’s Peerage Selection.