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April 17, 2013

Prosecco fills the glass for those who want a lower-cost bubbly

If there's an official wine of today's fabulous 21-something generation, it's the Italian bubbly called prosecco.

If there's an official wine of today's fabulous 21-something generation, it's the Italian bubbly called prosecco.

U.S. sippers buy a million cases a year, up 35 percent since 2011, according to the wine website, put out by Wine Spectator magazine's publisher Marvin Shanken.

Why? It's trendy, in a group that's very sensitive to peer values. It's cheap – one-third the price of big-label Champagnes. It's pleasant. Often lightly sweet, it avoids the tartness and austerity of more expensive sparkling wines. It's lower in alcohol at 10 percent or 11 percent, as opposed to 12 percent or more for other bubblies.

Prosecco is made in two styles, called "frizzante" for the lightly sparkling ones and "spumante" for those with sturdier bubbles. In either case, its bubbles are softer, almost creamy, because they're under lower pressure than the bubbles in other sparkling wines.

Many hosts serve it at around 40 degrees, a bit cooler than traditional sparkling wines, to avoid overt frothiness.

It gets its bubbles via the Charmat method – a secondary fermentation in giant stainless steel tanks – unlike upmarket Champagnes and sparkling wines, which get them by secondary fermentation inside the bottle. The method is said to produce a wine that's less complex and yeasty, but fruitier.

Prosecco's trendiest use is as an aperitif, poured into a tall flute so the drinker can watch its bubbles rise.

Some, of course, drink it through the meal, with light fare such as raw oysters, shellfish, sushi, tuna tartare and simply prepared fish dishes such as the shrimp scampi of Venice.

So, parents, if your progeny graduate from college and move back into their old bedrooms in your home, you know how to stock the fridge.

Highly recommended:

Nonvintage "OGIO" Prosecco DOC: light yellow hue, aromas and flavors of ripe peaches, quite dry, tart finish; $17.

Nonvintage "Bosco di Gica" Brut Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG: golden hue, delicate mousse, very crisp, golden apple aromas and flavors; $18.

2012 La Tordera Prosecco Alne' Millesimato DOC Valdobbiadene: very dry, lightly bubbly, with floral aromas and flavors of lemons and limes; $12.

2011 "Col Credas" Brut Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Rive di Farra di Soligo DOCG: light yellow, floral aromas, flavors of ripe pears, very dry, crisp; $22.


Nonvintage Cantina Colli del Soligo Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Extra Dry, DOCG: light, bubbly and off-dry, with floral aromas and green pear flavors; $16.

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