WINE SCHOOL 30 March 2015 - 5 April 2015

REGION: Italy > North East > Veneto

Occupying the far northeastern corner of Italy between Venice and the Slovenian border, Veneto produces large quantities of wine in a range of styles: summer-sipping, seafood-friendly Soave; ripe, fruity pizza-and-TV partner Valpolicella Classico; dark, rich Amarone; and essential, instant pick-me-up Prosecco.

Key red grapes: Corvina, Corvinone, Croatina, Rondinella
Key white grapes: Glera (Prosecco), Pinot Grigio, Garganega


GRAPE: Glera (Prosecco)

The grape formerly known as Prosecco was officially renamed Glera in 2009 in order to protect the Prosecco name. Only wines from the specific DOC (Prosecco di Conegliano Valdobbiadene) can now be labelled as Prosecco.

Thanks in no small part to many decades of canny marketing, Champagne may reign supreme as the go-to bottle for celebrating special occasions (Christmas/New Year, first wedding anniversary, new job). But as an accompaniment to those slightly less special occasions (Easter, ninth wedding anniversary, leaving do for someone you won't stay in touch with) Prosecco is the bubbly par excellence.

True, mass market Prosecco can tend towards the bland or overly astringent, but you can't make a proper bellini with Cava or Champagne. Prosecco's lack of pretension, flavour neutrality and crisp acidity make it my frivolous fizz of choice for those occasions when you need a quick lift of bubbles but can't really justify cracking open that bottle of Bollinger. No wonder Nigella Lawson refers to it as prozacco. I know of no better way of evoking simultaneous feelings of smug frugality and louche indulgence than drizzling one of any number of brightly coloured mixers atop a glass of well chilled Prosecco. Here are my four seasons of Prosecco recipes for year-round austerity decadence:

Spring

  • Prosecco + cooled and strained juice of poached, sweetened rhubarb
  • Summer
  • Prosecco + pureed white peaches (sweetened), obviously
  • Autumn
  • Prosecco + raspberry juice (sweetened)
  • Prosecco + creme de cassis
  • Prosecco + Campari (from Kitchen by Nigella Lawson)
  • Winter

  • Prosecco + juice and seeds of pomegranate + sugar syrup
  • Prosecco + blood orange juice
  • Cin cin!

    Synonyms: Serprina

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