As it’s Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d write a post today about something I truly love, and that thing is prosecco. It’s my favourite drink when there’s a celebration – sorry to my previous post on the history of champagne, but I have (very cheekily) designated this one extra sparkling because I just think it tastes so delicious! And apparently I’m not the only one – prosecco is the world’s bestselling wine, and it has been threatened on numerous occasions there might be prosecco shortages because demand is so high.
Here are six things you need to know about the history of prosecco:
1. The Prosecco Hills, or Le Colline del Prosecco di Conegliano e Valdobbiadene, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
2. The main grape used to make prosecco (it has to be at least 85%) is actually called the Glera grape. It was originally called Prosecco – but because there is a town and a region called that, it was renamed to avoid confusion.
3. Vines have been growing in this area, Conegliano Valdobbiadene, for a long time. The Romans left records discussing celebrations of the grape harvest. The wine of this area, originally known as Puccino, was also mentioned in Pliny the Elder’s Natural History.
4. In 1574, the future King Henry III of France was on his way to Paris to be crowned when he passed through Conegliano. In celebration, white wine made in the area poured from the Fountain of Neptune all day.
5. Apart from the grape, a big difference between champagne and most prosecco is the method used to make it. Most prosecco has its second fermentation (which is what gives the bubbles!) in big steel tanks, rather than in the bottle, like champagne. This is also why prosecco tends to be a lot more affordable than champagne.
6. The first winery to produce sparkling wine (not just here, but in all of Italy) was Carpenè Malvolti. It was pioneered by Antonio Carpenè: the father of prosecco. It was launched in 1873 and made its debut at the Universal Exposition of Vienna. At this point, it was known as “Champagne Italiano” – until 1924, when Carpenè Malvolti first marketed it as “Prosecco”.
Cheers – or, should I say, saluti!