Guide to Prosecco Sweetness ...

Confused about Prosecco Styles? Our guide will explain

For some people, the drier the sparkling wine the better, whilst for others only Muscat or Asti Spumante will do. Part of the reason for Prosecco’ success is that is sits right in the middle of this debate. 

Prosecco is produced, and must respect the official sugar contents of sparkling wines according to Commission Regulation (EC) No 607/2009 of 14 July 2009 [7]

Rating/Sugar content/(grams per liter)
Brut Nature (no added sugar)
0–3
Extra Brut
0–6
Brut
0–12
Extra Dry, Extra Sec, Extra seco
12–17
Dry, Sec, Seco
17–32
Demi-Sec, Semi-seco
32–50
Doux, Sweet, Dulce
50+

Prosecco is produced in three styles, Brut, Extra Brut and Dry. 

Prosecco Brut: 0 – 12 grams of sugar per liter
Prosecco Brut is a light-coloured sparkling wine that has a citrus-lemon-lime taste to it.  It pairs well with a wide variety of foods such as rice and pastas with light sauces, fish – and vegetable dishes.  It is also the best one for those of us that are on a diet as is the one with the lowest sugar levels 

In this style of Prosecco, if well made as our Prosecco Brut DOCG by Vettori, the balance between sweetness and acidity will be just perfect for those looking to clench their thirst while tasting a hint of sweetness to caress the taste buds. Ideal for those who normally drink Brut Champagne as it is the closest Prosecco it’ll ever get to it; remember: comparing Prosecco with Champagne it’s like comparing apples and pears. 

Prosecco Extra Dry: 12 – 17 grams of sugar per liter
The second type of Prosecco is the light straw coloured ‘Extra Dry’ variant. Despite its name, it is actually fruiter than the Brut.  The ‘Extra dry’ is sometimes called "off-dry” which indicates that the wine is dry, but with a distinct touch of sweetness.  In Italy the Extra Dry variant is considered to be the most conventional Prosecco of all three variants available. It is a delicious wine to drink as an aperitif, with summer dishes or with creamy cheeses.  At the Italian Wine Boutique we have a real one for you to try: the Vettori Brut DOCG. It is an elegant, clean-cut Prosecco with apple overtones, wisteria and acacia flower fragrances and a round, pleasantly acidulous and well-balanced taste, brought to your senses by an exceptional silk texture on the palate.

Prosecco Dry: 17 – 32 grams of sugar per liter
The Prosecco Dry is a real rarity on the wine market outside Italy. Although both Proseccos Brut and Extra Dry varieties were featured in Decanter’s magazine supplement "Italy 2011” the Dry variety did not even receive a mention! (Decanter, Italy 2011. Whites: Sparkling, Beyond Prosecco, January 2011, p.23 – p.26). If you research the Italian market or just use google.it, you will soon find out that of Prosecco Dry is easily available.
Dry Prosecco sometimes is called ‘Amabile’ which means ‘slightly sweet’ or ‘Dolce’ that can be translated as sweet but not as sweet as a Muscat or a dessert wine.  It tastes of apples, peach, lemon and it is the perfect partner for spicy and asian foods. Watch out because the Prosecco Dry variety will be soon available from our online shop. However if you like hot Indian food and you cannot wait, try any of the sweet wines in our section  and be ready to give your taste buds the experience of a life time!

ITALIAN SPARKLING WINES;

Today many wine drinkers assume "if it is Italian & bubbly, then it must be Prosecco”. Not suprising as Prosecco is the number one sparkling wine of Italy, both in production and export numbers. 

It is closely followed by Asti. Most consumers associate fine perlage (soft bubbles) and a more or less sweet taste with these two most known sparkling wines. But there is so much more to sparkling wines in Italy than these two. Just as you shouldn’t call any sparkling wine "Champagne”, you wouldn't call all Italian bubbles "Prosecco”, either. 

All these names mean a specific area and very often a specific method- and are protected by law! Here is a quick introduction to the most important styles & names. This is by no means a complete list. 

Asti DOCGis a sparkling & sweet wine made 100% from Moscato Bianco grapes from the Piedmont region in the Northwest of Italy. It has a ratherlow alcoholcontent (7%-9,5%) and is sweet(at least 50g/l of sugar). The bubbles come from the fermentation process in autoclaves (pressurized tanks), which is the first and only fermentation this wine goes through and the sugar is the left over (unfermented) sugar from the grapes. Drink it at the end of a meal, especially with pastries or creamy and fruity desserts.

Lambrusco DOCs (there are 5, from 5 different areas in the Emilia Romagna and Lombardy regions) are usually red, sparkling and dry(non sweet!). I said usually because you will find rosé or even white versions, still versions and sweet in varying degrees, too. But traditionally this is a red sparkling wine, aromatic (berries!) but not sweet, produced by using the Charmat method (after making a still wine, a 2nd fermentation takes place in the autoclaves). Has at least 10,5% alc. If you are from the United States and have always avoided it because you don’t like sweet wine, do ask at your wine store for a dry version, which is a great aperitif wine, best paired with the fatty salumi and prosciutto of the region where it comes from.

Prosecco DOCGs (there are two - the wonderfully fruityColli Asolani(orAsolo) undeservedly often gets ignored next to the bigger Conegliano Valdobbiadene, as well as a less strictly ruled DOC) are the wines you think you know best - but you might be surprised. Produced 100% from Glera grapes in the cool climate and sea-fossil soils of the Veneto area, they have at least 11% alc and varying degrees of sweetness. The most common sweetness level (always declared on the label) is extra dry, meaning there is about 15g of sugar per liter in it. Not a dessert wine, but definitely noticeably sweet. Perfect for pairing with the strong, sweet-ish taste of shrimps, especially in a risotto. Note that there are also pas dosè (zero sugar) versions of Prosecco. The bubbles are most often produced by the Charmat method (see above Lambrusco); but there are colfòndo / metodo rurale (ever heard of decanting a sparkling wine? This is the candidate for that!) and metodo classico (see below) versions, too, that effect not only the looks but also the perlage of a Prosecco. Not to forget a completely still version, a Prosecco spento.

Franciacorta DOCG could just about be my fave sparkling wine of Italy. Italwaysuses the metodo classico(same method that champagne uses - a second fermentation in the bottle. Franciacorta by law has a longer minimum time for this than champagne, 24 months as opposed to 18) and comes from the shores of the Iseo Lake in the southern part of Lombardy. The grapes allowed are Pinot Nero, Pinot Bianco and Chardonnay. Sweetness degrees vary, though the majority is brut(below 12 grams of sugar/liter). My favorites are almost always brut nature or pas dose, meaning 0 sugar! Perlage is very fine & persistent, usually not as explosive as a Champagne and not as yeasty tasting, either. If you prefer an even softer style, look for the satén typology, which has less atmospheric pressure and is 100% Chardonnay. Hint: Franciacorta is not only for a celebratory glass of bubbles - it will pair well with many foods (except maybe a grilled steak). We drink our "house” Franciacorta even with pizza!

Trento DOC, another appellation that always uses metodo classico. Grapes are similar to Franciacorta, with the addition of Pinot Meunier. It is generally yeastier and fuller tasting than Franciacorta, which makes it a better pairing with the heavier mountain region dishes it shares its origins with. The minimum time for the 2nd fermentation is a minimum of 15 months for the base version, though vintage and riserva versions go up to 24 and 36, respectively.

There are many other sparkling wines produced in Italy, almost in every region, with one or the other of the above mentioned methods. The above are my favorite appellations, have consistently the best quality (theoretically and practically) and are easiest to find. Next time you want a sparkling wine, ask your sommelier or salesperson for one of these that you haven’t tried yet - they will be delighted to help you discover!