The New Year is upon us! It’s time to celebrate. But, if you are like us, you need to celebrate without breaking the budget! We have solved this problem by spending most New Year’s Eves with our friends and sticking with affordable booze and food that we potluck. We end up with everything we love for the New Year – good friends, good food and good booze. For me, an essential component of the evening is also good bubbly! While I love Champagne, I generally find myself reaching for something that doesn’t break the bank. One of those bottles that I reach for is Prosecco, which is a great party pleaser that doesn’t break the bank.
Prosecco is a fun, flirty, sparkling wine from the Veneto in Italy. It is made from the Glera grape in the charmat method, where bubbles are the result of the secondary fermentation that occurs in stainless steel tanks. After the secondary fermentation is complete, the wine sits in the tank until it’s bottled. This is important because Prosecco needs to be drunk young and soon after bottling. So, don’t buy Prosecco and age it. Drink it! However, there are some premium Proseccos that are made in the traditional method (champagne method) but it’s unlikely that you will run across many of these, and if you do, the price will be a clue that this isn’t your everyday Prosecco.
Prosecco is easy drinking. While each producer has their own signature style, Prosecco is generally fairly consistent. It has notes of peach, lime and white flowers with a yeasty note that reminds me of beer. It’s great drunk on its own, as well as mixed with fruit juices and purees, like peach and passion fruit and to top up a cocktal. I often don’t recommend that it be substituted for true champagne cocktails, like the French 75, because it lacks the toasty notes of Champagne that add to the complexity of cocktails created with Champagne in mind. The other great thing about Prosecco is that it is reasonably priced. Most are priced at $20 and below and you can get good ones at $10. Prosecco’s easy nature and reasonable price maybe one of the reasons that sales of Prosecco more than doubled in the United States between 2005 and 2010.
Here are some of our Prosecco picks:
- Maschio Prosecco Brut DOC – a superb Prosecco that offers notes of peach, orange blossom, almond and yeast. A steal with an average retail price of $15.
Mionetto Prosecco DOC Trevisio – one of the most popular Prosecco’s in the United States. This sparkler is light bodied with notes of yellow apples, white flowers and yeast. A great price at roughly $10 per bottle (and I purchased a magnum for $15 at Costco – perfect for parties).
- Enza Prosecco DOC Trevisio – a yummy, new Prosecco that entered the US market this month. With a suggested retail price of $14, this Prosecco is reasonably priced for its complexity. This Prosecco has notes of yellow apple, peach, honeysuckle, peach, a touch of orange and yeast. Also, the Enza is packaged in a beautiful bottle that makes it a great host or hostess gift.
- Enrico Prosecco Brut – from the well regarded Bellussi Estate in the Conegliano Valdobbiadene region (reportedly where the best Prosecco is produced), this wine has notes of peaches, pears, citrus and a touch of yeast. This is a great buy at $10-15 a bottle.
- La Marca Prosecco – this Prosecco is packaged in an elegant bottle. Back in the day when I was buying wine based on packaging, this would have been at to the top of my picks. Not only is this Prosecco beautifully packaged, it also has a wonderful taste. It has complexity with notes of lemon, green apple, grapefruit, minerality, yeast and a hint of toast. This wine was awarded one of Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of the Year for 2007.