October 1, 2023
News Opinion

WINE O’CLOCK: Fizz may not be better but it’s usually dearer

LAST week I mentioned, in passing, the two types of Prosecco on sale in Ireland – frizzante and spumante. A number of readers (well, one’s a number isn’t it?) have asked for more information. So …

Prosecco is the name of a village where the sparkling wine is produced but that is not important since it is made all across a wide region of northern Italy. Prosecco is an appellation for wines made there, principally from the Glero grape.

It comes in three forms, but I have never seen the still wine, fermo, in an Irish shop.

With still wines fermentation is completed before bottling. With sparkling wines, secondary fermentation takes place in a sealed vessel. The carbon dioxide can’t escape and so goes back into the wine, producing the sparkle.

With Champagne and Cava, this process takes place in the bottle. For Prosecco, it is done in a large sealed tank. This process is less labour-intensive which keeps the price down.

By adjusting the pressure, wine makers can produce different degrees of fizz. Spumante is the one that goes pop and comes in a bottle with a mushroom-style cork, like Champagne.

Frizzante has a gentle sparkle. Traditionally its corks are tied down with string but nowadays this is simply for effect. There is no danger of the corks popping and some perfectly respectable Proseccos now come in screwtop bottles.

In Ireland, frizzante is classified as a still wine which, for some mysterious reason, attracts less duty than sparkling wine. So frizzante is usually a little cheaper than spumante.

You can pay €20 and more for a good Prosecco but €10 to €12 should get you a decent bottle. Beware of extremely cheap Prosecco which often has gas injected. It is too fizzy, too sweet and generally unpleasant.





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