August 13th is National Prosecco Day. A day dedicated to the most famous bubbles of Italy!
Did you know that the name Prosecco is highly guarded, possibly even more so than Champagne? That’s right. Technically only wines from Champagne, France can bear the name “Champagne” on their label, buuuuuuuut there are a few US houses who can do so legally as well. Not with Prosecco.
Prosecco is so highly guarded that only the town by its name, the sparking wine from designated DOC surrounding areas, and for generations, the grape itself could bear the name. In 2009, in an effort to designate a higher quality classification of a DOCG Prosecco, Italy went so far as to revert to using the ancient name for the grape, Glera, to not sow confusion when certifying and designating Prosecco wine classifications in the future.
That’s a lot of work to protect your national sparkling. A name change on that level would be akin to the US to changing all Oregon Pinot Noir to “Willamette Noir” to protect the global perception of Oregon Pinot Noir, and enforcing that no one else can label it as Willamette Noir in any other part of our country or the world as a whole, and offering no concessions to other Oregon AVAs outside of Willamette Valley to allow usage of the name. We’re talking full and total lockdown on the naming, no exceptions.
There is some possibility the grape was herald as far back (and before) Pliny the Elder, and written about in his Natural History (questions remain due to the name of the grape at the time being different than Glera or Prosecco, but most agree it was Prosecco he was speaking of for a multitude of reasons including geography). In fact, the first known, confirmed writings of Prosecco date to 1593 (called “Prosecho”) and include a nod to the love of it by Pliny the Elder. The first known printing of it referred to exactly as “Prosecco” dates to 1754.
While Prosecco is generally meant to be drank young (within 3 years), there have been examples of vintaged Prosecco that has held up well to the 20 year mark from top producers. The vast majority do not undergo a second in-bottle fermentation like Champagnes do, however, as always in the wine world, there are exceptions to the rule.
While it is widely enjoyed throughout Italy on its own, Prosecco has been fashioned into a few sparkling wine based cocktails, the most notable being the Bellini.
So cheers today (and every day) to Prosecco!