A Taste of Italy: Sparkling Wine
Italian sparkling wine has become synonymous with Prosecco in recent years but, with sparkling wine made in most Italian regions, did you know that there are several other delicious options to sample?
Let's start with what we know best. Made in the Veneto region of Italy from the Glera grape, Prosecco is a Tank Method sparkling wine. What this means is that two separate fermentations are required to make this sparkling wine. Firstly, the grapes undergo an initial fermentation to create what's called a "base wine" - this is a similar process to making a white wine and, indeed, results in an alcoholic and aromatic wine, but not quite the final product. The base wine, sugar and yeast are added to a pressurised tank where a second fermentation takes place. This fermentation produces carbon dioxide and, with nowhere to escape to, carbonates the wine to give the sparkle that we know and love.
Prosecco is typically off-dry and has delicious green apple, pear, honeydew, peach and citrus notes. It has become such a popular style of sparkling wine that, in 2009, worldwide demand meant that Italy overtook France to be the largest exporter of sparkling wine by volume!
Have a taste: Biscardo Millesimato Prosecco Spumante
From Piemonte, we have Asti and Moscato d'Asti which are made from Moscato Bianco, or Muscat Blanc à Petit Grains. These sparkling wines are made using a variation of the Tank Method used to make Prosecco: this time, only one fermentation takes place to give the levels of alcohol and carbonation desired. Furthermore, the wines are typically sweet and this is achieved by stopping the fermentation process before all the sugar has been converted to alcohol.
Whilst both Asti and Moscato d'Asti are low in alcohol with flavours of orange blossom, grape, peach, lemon and honeysuckle, Asti will usually have a slightly higher alcohol content and be fully sparkling, whereas Moscato d'Asti will be higher in sugar and semi-sparkling.
Have a taste: Villa Giada Suri Moscato d'Asti
Lambrusco is made using the same Tank Method as Prosecco but is, interestingly, a red sparkling wine. It comes from the Emilia-Romagna region of Central Italy and is produced from a family of grapes of the same name, with Lambrusco Salamino being the most widely planted variety.
Some of our readers may remember 1970s and 1980s Lambrusco as a cheap, sweet and flavourless red sparkling wine, but it has come on in leaps and bounds since then. Today, these wines are typically dry and have delicious fresh strawberry, cherry, plum, blackberry and citrus flavours. Although slightly unusual to get used to at first, Lambrusco is really lovely and definitely one to add to the bucket list!
Have a taste: Fontana dei Boschi Lambrusco £18.00
Franciacorta is Italy's largest producing region of sparkling wines made using Metodo Classico - otherwise known as the Traditional Method, which is most famously associated with Champagne.
Located in the Lombardy region of Northern Italy, Franciacorta is predominantly produced using Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc. As with the Tank Method, there is a first fermentation to create a base wine. The second fermentation is where the two processes differ; with the Traditional Method, this is carried out in the individual bottle the wine is later sold in.
Franciacorta typically has ripe apple, citrus, peach, biscuit and toast flavours, as well as delicate bubbles and a rounded creaminess. These are exceptionally-made wines that can compete with the finest Champagnes.
Have a taste: Ca'del Bosco Cuvée Prestige Franciacorta £40.49
With 10% off our Italian wine selection in April 2021, why not give one of these amazing sparkling wines a go? Saluti!