More bubbles for everyone – Sale & Pepe – Italian Cuisine

More bubbles for everyone - Sale & Pepe

Take away everything but the bubbles: not even Covid has tempered the passion of Italians for sparkling wines, whose sales continued to grow even during the pandemic. According to the Observatory Italian union wines-Ismea, for the holidays at the end of 2021 they will be uncorked 88 million bottles of sparkling wines, 14% more than last year. A true record, which consolidates the image of Italy as a country of sparkling wines. Indeed, we are the world leaders in terms of production (with over 700 million bottles), we are the home of the most drunk bubbles on the planet (those of Prosecco Doc) and above all we have extended this production to the whole national territory, so much so that today sparkling wines are made from South Tyrol to Sicily. This "bubble fever" has expanded the range of sparkling wines and this has allowed us to try new wines but has also made the choice more complicated. Here is a quick handbook to find your way around the rich and varied panorama of Italian sparkling wines.

Step 1: Check the production method

The first fundamental indication for choosing a sparkling wine is to check with which of the two methods it was produced. The most popular in Italy is Charmat, in which the second fermentation (necessary to capture the carbon dioxide inside the bottle and create the bubbles) takes place in large pressure containers at a controlled temperature. Used for numerous sparkling wines (such as Prosecco, Valdobbiadene, Lambrusco, Monti Lessini Durello, Malvasia, Ortrugo, Muller, Pinot and Moscato), it especially enhances the aromatic vines and allows to obtain fragrant and fresh sparkling wines, fruity and aromatic, light and ideal for 'aperitif.

The other method is the Classic one and it is also indicated on the label with the words “fermented in the bottle”, because this is its peculiarity. Used for fine sparkling wines (such as Franciacorta, Trento and Oltrepo Pavese) and recently also applied to native vines, never used before for bubbles (such as Prié blanc in Valle d'Aosta, Sangiovese in Tuscany or Nerello mascalese on the slopes of 'Etna), requires a long time and great attention in the cellar. And it gives structured sparkling wines, with fine and persistent bubbles, which are suitable for any meal.

Step 2: check how and where it was done

Another important indication is the presence of a European geographical indication, which guarantees the origin of the grapes and the territory in which they were processed, as well as compliance with a production specification. The stamp Doc (Denomination of controlled origin) it has been attributed to six sparkling wines (Trento, Prosecco, Offida spumante, Oltrepo Pavese, Lugana, Colli Euganei) which are obtained with grapes from a specific, well-defined area.

More selective is the stamp Docg (Denomination of controlled and guaranteed origin), which has been awarded to 12 sparkling wines (Franciacorta, Asti, Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore, Asolo Prosecco, Roero Arneis, Oltrepo Pavese Metodo Classico, Gavi, Alta Langa, Brachetto d’Acqui, Vernaccia di Serrapetrona, Cartizze Spumante). It has stricter rules and can only be assigned to wines of particular quality that have been Doc for at least 5 years.

Other qualifications, permitted by law for some wines, provide additional guarantees. Like the term "reserve": it is attributed to wines subjected to an aging period of not less than one year in the case of sparkling wines obtained with the Charmat method and three years for sparkling wines obtained with the Classic method. The term is also very widespread "vintage ": indicates that at least 85% of the wine comes from the vintage indicated on the label.

Step 3: Find the right sparkling wine for your menu

In sparkling wines, sugar and yeast are essential to start the fermentation of wine and develop bubbles. Based on the sugar content (i.e. the grams of sugar contained in a liter of wine) are divided into seven types, which must be indicated on the label and which are very useful for evaluating which foods it goes best with.

The the driest sparkling wine is Pas dosé, the one that is not topped up with other wines or dosage syrups and which therefore remains perfectly dry (less than 3 g of sugars). Today it is the trendiest and is also presented on the label with the words "zero dosage", "brut nature" or "pas dosé". The other types are Extra Brut (less than 6 g), Brut (up to 12 g), Extra Dry (12-17), Dry (17-32), Demi sec (32-50) and the Dolce (over 50 g).

Step 4: serve it comme-il-faut

You have carefully chosen the right sparkling wine, so do not run the risk of "debasing" it by serving it badly. First rule to appreciate it to the fullest: make sure that, when pouring it into glasses, both at a temperature of 5 ° C. Then, the bottle should be placed in the refrigerator in time and brought to the table with a refrigerating band (wine cooler), kept in the freezer until ready for use.

An alternative (and last minute) solution is the classic ice bucket, which allows you to bring the temperature to 5 ° C in about ten minutes. If you then put a little coarse salt in the bucket, it will do it even faster.

To prevent the sparkling wine from making a bang at the moment of opening, it is good keep the bottle steady, avoiding shaking and moving it. If it was tossed around during transport, it is better to immerse it in an ice bucket half an hour before uncorking it.

December 2021

Manuela Soressi

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