Chances are good that many of you readers enjoyed some champagne or American sparkling wine just the other night as you rang in the new year. (And judging by the frivolity depicted in the photobooth pix from The Fire Ball, some of you might have had more than one glass.) Bubbles are certainly great for special occasions, but don’t limit yourself to NYE, weddings and anniversaries to get your spritz on.
Sparkling wines of any sort, be they French champagnes, California sparklers or Spanish cavas make excellent aperitifs or degestifs before or after any meal that you want to make special. But for universal appeal and good values in a bubbly, it’s hard to beat Italian Proseccos. Usually dry or extra dry white wines, Proseccos come from the Friuli and Veneto regions of Italy. It’s also the main ingredient of one of the best classic cocktails, the Bellini.
Over the past decade, Prosecco consumption has taken off in the new world, with annual growth of 35% and over a million cases sold last year. That makes it the single fastest-growing sector in the entire world of wine. With the rising popularity of some excellent examples in the $12-20 range, there are plenty of options for newbies who want to experiment with new Proseccos.
A couple of good starter bottle come from Martini and Rossi and from Fantinel. Yes, that’s the same Martini and Rossi who earned their reputation in the states with their sweet Asti Spumanti, but their Prosecco is much more complicated and dignified than the sweet stuff. At about $15/bottle, this citrusy treat really gets your mouth watering prior to a meal, or it’s great with buttery or lime fish dishes.
The Fantinel is a little more delicate and floral than the Martini Frizzante, and you can usually find it for a couple of bucks cheaper at your favorite wine shop. At prices like these, you can afford to buy a couple of bottles to keep in the fridge for any time you want to take the fun up a notch. As they say in Italy, cin cin!