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Kali Mireva

History of Prosecco: Origins and Production of the Drink

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The history of different types of alcohol is always interesting. How did people come up with brandy? Or the different varieties of wine? It’s also fascinating to know when that happened and whether the drink has evolved. 

We have already looked into the history of champagne, the history of white wine, and the history of rose. We even covered the history of port wine and other types of alcohol like vodka and whiskey. But we still need to discuss the history of prosecco. 

Prosecco is from the family of sparkling wines and is well-loved by many people worldwide. It’s even one of the most common drinks to have with brunch. People often serve it for special occasions like bridal showers, bachelorette parties, and more. 

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The Fascinating History of Prosecco

Prosecco is one of the best-selling Italian wines. It’s light, floral, and with a beautiful fragrance. Because of these characteristics, it’s now a wine that people all over the world love and use to toast their happy occasions. Although it has become popular in the last decade or so, the history is prosecco is long and fascinating. 

Key Takeaway: The history of prosecco is longer and more interesting than people anticipate. The Glera grape used to make this wine has been growing in the Italian town of Prosecco for centuries. It was used for hundreds of years to make light wine with beautiful aromas, that can be both sparkling and still wines.

History Tied to the Territory

A reference to prosecco was found in literature that dates back to 77 AD. What is considered to be the first ever mention of it was found in Pliny the Elder's Naturalis Historia, which is a naturalistic treatise. 

Pliny praised the goodness of the Pucino wine, which was a favorite of the wife of Emperor Augustus. Back then, the wine was known for its healing properties. Legend has it that prosecco is the reason behind the longevity of the Roman woman. 

The origin place of the wine was in a small town near Trieste, called Prosecco. The small town gave its name to the wine and a castle. This castle was the exact place where the wine used to be produced so many years ago. Over time, the production area expanded to the east and west. Towards the regions of Dalmatia and the region of Veneto. 

The Grape Used to Make Prosecco

Many years agp, what we now know as Prosecco used to be called Glera, too. This name comes from the type of grapes that are used to make the drink. It’s a thin-skinned green grape that is grown in the Friuli and Veneto regions of Italy. The grape has been growing there for hundreds of years. 

In 2009, the Italian authorities sought legal protection of the name “Prosecco.” The French have done the same to protect the name Champagne as a place of origin of the sparkling wine. So now in Italy, Prosecco wine can be named that way if it is made in specific regions and with at least 85% of Glera grapes. However, producers outside of Italy are known to not know the history of prosecco and name their bottlings of sparkling wine the same way. 

The Glera grapes have high acidity, which makes them perfect for making sparkling wine. This type of grape gives a lovely aroma of peaches, melons, pears, and white flowers. The wines made with Glera are typically light to medium-bodied. Then, depending on the way the producer works and the amount of sugar used, the alcohol levels range between 8.5% and 12.5% for fully dry wines. 

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How Is Prosecco Made?

The vineyards where Glera is cultivated are harvested in September. This is when the grapes have reached the right ripeness degree. Glera is a delicate grape with very light skin, so it’s crucial to have proper monitoring of the winemaking process from the moment the grapes enter the cellar. 

Once the grapes are collected, they are pressed to extract the must. The must is filtered and goes through a clarification process, and the initial fermentation process is done with the help of yeast. Then, the wine sits for several weeks, which is part of the aging process. After that, oenologists taste the wine to evaluate the vintage and coupage before moving on to the sparkling phase. The sparkling phase is actually a second fermentation that creates the “prise de mousse” and allows the formation of the perlage. 

Types of Prosecco

There are both sparkling and still prosecco wines. However, the DOCG area in Italy specializes in making the sparkling type. It’s interesting to know that now, the sparkling version of prosecco represents 97% of all production. This is the area in Italy where are made the most sparkling wines, compared to other parts of the country. 

What sets the different types of sparkling prosecco apart is the amount of sugar. Before, in the history of prosecco, there was not a lot of information about the sugar contents. But nowadays, there is a clear distinction between the different proseccos based on the amount of sugar. 

They range from Extra Brut to Demi-Sec through Brut, Dry, and Extra Dry. Based on the varieties the drink and food pairings also vary. For example, Extra Dry and Brunt proseccos pair well with savory dishes, while Dry prosecco and Demi-Sec are suitable for desserts and to have as a digestif. 

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Frequently Asked Questions about the Prosecco History

Like with most wines, the history of prosecco is long and fascinating. If you want to know more details about it, we suggest you read the following paragraphs. Below, we will answer three of the common questions people ask about the history of prosecco. 

When Did Prosecco Become Popular?

Prosecco gained a lot of popularity in the 20th century. Most of it came during the last few decades of the century. It rose to fame thanks to the increased marketing efforts of the producers, who focused on making it an alternative to Champagne. Prosecco is also more affordable and pairs well with a range of foods. It can also be used to make delicious prosecco cocktails

Was Prosecco Always a Sparkling Wine?

Prosecco was not always a sparkling wine. Historically, it was produced both as a still and a sparkling wine. The transition to having predominantly sparkling prosecco occurred over time. There was no specific time in the history of prosecco when the shift was made. The sparkling type of prosecco gradually became popular over the years and people love it that way. 

When Was Prosecco First Produced?

Prosecco was made for the very first time, probably in Roman times. However, there is no way to know exactly when. During the Roman times, the Prosecco region was known for its great vineyards and wine production. Over the decades that followed, the production of the prosecco wine evolved. 

Today, prosecco is different than the wine they used to enjoy in the Roman Empire due to the changing technology and winemaking methods. However, the type of grapes, called Glera, is still the one used to create this wine with beautiful and delicate aromas. 

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