I remember those days in college when drinking wine had no rules. I didn’t need to know the difference between Merlot, Red Blend, Shiraz, or Pinot Grigio. It was a time where I could hang with my best gal pal ever, buy a huge 3 litter bottle of Sutter Home, put a huge bendy straw in the bottle, and drink until my heart’s content. Then adulthood hit me, and I realized, like many millennials, that I was ignorant to most of the rules and the information about the wine and champagne I was drinking.
A few years ago, when I had my first “Big Boy” job, there was this amazingly HOT doctor who just had the most fantastic blue eyes and a body that would not quit. He was sophisticated and refined, and had an air about him that was equal to that of Jude Law in the Sherlock Holmes movies: smart, funny, rugged, the list goes on and on, but I digress. After a few months of working with this man, I got to know him and we developed a sort of Bromance. In his words, I was a Bromo (a Bro that is Homosexual.) I was a little iffy about this title at first, but it meant a pretty close bond. One day, my Bro invited me to go to a Vineyard with him where I learned so much it was just unbelievable – the amount of knowledge one needed to posses to even work at a vineyard is astonishing. Later on, we had dinner at this vineyard and that is where my college ignorance on Champagne and Prosecco reared its ugly face… I was utterly embarrassed… the waiter who took my order asked for my drink – I wanted Champagne, so I responded “Champagne please.” I was then informed that they only served Prosecco, and my response, “It is basically the same thing, so that’s fine.” Big mistake. The waiter lectured me for 15 minutes on the differences between the two, and how I insulted an amazing Italian wine. My Bro just sat and laughed the entire time. It was a shameful situation, but we aren’t taught these things in college! I’m sure everyone has that story.
So in light of this ignorance, I am going to explain to you all the differences between the two AND provide an amazing easy Prosecco beverage recipe.
First and foremost, just like there is a difference between Champagne and Prosecco, there are different types of sparkling wines that you may think to be Prosecco, but are actually something completely different.
Prosecco is the best known Italian sparkling wine, especially when combined with peach juice to make the Bellini cocktail. With a straw colour, the wine is dry and should usually be drunk within three years. It is made largely from the Glera grape, which until 2009 was known as Prosecco too, although this now only refers to the wine and region. Prosecco comes from the hilly northern part of the Veneto region of north western Italy. In 2009, the region where the wine is made – the Prosecco di Conegliano e Valdobbiadene DOC area – was upgraded to a DOCG, in an attempt to increase quality.
Another sparkling wine that many of you have seen is Asti. Asti comes from the other side of Italy to Prosecco, the hills of Piedmont in the north east of the country. Made from Moscato Blanco grapes (or Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains), and is generally sweet, or off-dry, and low in alcohol.
And just like Asti there is Moscato d’Asti which is a similar wine made in the Piedmont region from the same Moscato Blanco grapes, but is lower in alcohol at about 5% to 7%.
Now we move on to Champagne, and this is where there is a MAJOR difference: sparkling wine can only go by the name ‘Champagne’ if it has been made in the Champagne region in the north east of France. However, the wine-making method used in the region, the Méthode Champenoise, is used across the world where it is now called the méthode traditionnelle.
As well as using a distinctive method, the Champagne region does have a fairly unique climate and geology that gives the wine made there a distinctive flavour. Lying north-east of Paris, the region has a much cooler climate than most wine-producing areas. The average temperature in the region is only just warm enough to ripen white grapes – a degree cooler and there would be no Champagne. The chalky soil is also not found in many other wine producing regions. There are other sparkling wines produced across France, those using the méthode traditionnelle are known as Crémant, while those using other methods are known as Mousseux.
Now that we have some background, I can let you know there has been a HUGE debate going on for decades about if it is better to use Champagne or another sparkling wine for Mimosas. There are those who will tell you never to add anything, even fruit, to Champagne. Well, being that I love to make cocktails for any occasion, I have one in particular that I just adore with Prosecco, and here it is.
Mango Strawberry Prosecco
*one thing to remember when making a cocktail like this depending on how sweet or how much Prosecco you want to taste add as much or little as you like!
1 Part Mango Juice
2 Parts Prosecco
2 whole Cut Strawberries
Pour the mango juice into your Champagne Flute, then add both Strawberries and pour the prosecco to top it off.