Bubbly Prosecco epitomizes la dolce vita italiana – and that may be the reason for its success. Fresh, light-bodied, dry and fruity, it is the perfect drink for a fun aperitivo night with friends. It also helps that it’s affordable. And now, Prosecco has become the best-selling sparkling wine in the world by volume, dethroning Champagne (sorry, France), which topped the list for years.
Prosecco production surpassed Champagne for the first time five years ago. It is now 75 percent higher at 544 million bottles, reports the Associated Press.
According to Coldiretti, the leading organization of Italian farmers, exports of Italian spumante, sparkling wine that includes Prosecco, Asti and Franciacorta, jumped by 13 percent this year, with record sales abroad valued at $1.5 billion.
Sales of Prosecco have been surging in the U.K. and the U.S., but also Germany, Russia, even Japan, and, ironically enough, France itself.
Made in northeastern Italy, precisely in nine provinces distributed between the regions of Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia, Prosecco is made with 85 percent or more of the white Glera grape. Its production differs from Champagne mainly in the secondary fermentation process, which takes place in a large tank, rather than in the bottle, following the so-called Charmat-Martinotti method. This alters the organoleptic properties of the wine, making it fresh and fruity, not yeasty, with larger and shorter-lived bubbles than Champagne; it also makes it cheaper to produce. (There’s an exception to this for the DOCG-designated wines, which allow the use of the Metodo Classico, i.e. secondary fermentation in the bottle, the method used for Champagne; incidentally, Prosecco Superiore DOCG can only be made in the Treviso province of Veneto on the hills between the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, and is considered the best version of Prosecco).
Prosecco’s success is attributed to its lower price and its versatility, making it an ideal drink for many occasions, from the after-work aperitivo to casual gatherings, and of course for the holidays. It pairs well with seafood. And you can make fantastic cocktails with it.
Italian sommelier Diego Meraviglia has summed up best the reasons for Prosecco's success: “It's an expression of the Made in Italy, it's affordable, it offers Italian conviviality at a reasonable price.”