Prosecco is the Italian response to France’s Champagne or Spain’s Cava. A white wine, Prosecco is, as most Italian wines, Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC), produced in the Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia regions. Prosecco became popular in the 1990s when it was given the status of an Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT), after which in 2009 it received its current denomination. Some Prosecco wines have even achieved Denominazione de Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG): Montello e Colli Asolani Prosecco and Prosecco di Conegliano Valdobbiadene. Prosecco wine is the Italian wine that is most popular outside of Italy, and in 2014 it beat out Champagne for the first time as the most sold wine in the world, by bottles.

So where do we get Prosecco wine from? The base vitigno is glera, which must make up at least 85% of the total grapes in the wine. The rest of the grapes allowed in Prosecco production are verdiso, bianchetta trevigiana, perera, glera lunga, chardonnay, pinot bianco, pinot grigio and pinot nero vinified as a white wine. And where do we get the name Prosecco? It actually comes from the town of Prosecco, a suburb of Trieste. The name itself comes from the Slovenian prozek which means “a path through the woods.” Maybe because Prosecco is the perfect wine to bring on a nice wooded picnic!

Prosecco wine is a sparkling wine. It can be labeled as spumante, frizzante or tranquillo (still). Like Champagne, Prosecco must be produced using a specific method to ensure that it produces the desired bubbles during its fermentation. The method, known as the Charmat-Martinotti method, which gives wines approximately three atmospheres of pressure though a process of a second fermentation in large steel tanks.

That means that Prosecco bubbles last longer than the gas one finds in beer, for example, but slightly less than the bubbles found in Champagne. The method also allows for larger batches of production under control, leading to a more affordable price, as well! Prosecco also has a variety of sweetness levels. Brut is the most popular sweetness style, and is comprised of up to a half gram of sugar per glass. Extra dry has just over half a gram of sugar per glass and Dry can have up to 1 gram of sugar per glass.

Prosecco wine is best served chilled, in a tulip glass, which is ideal due to its tall and slender flute shape that preserves the wine’s bubbles elegantly for a longer period of time. Prosecco wine is extremely versatile and can be paired with a variety of foods. It is also light in its alcohol content which means it can be perfect to serve as an aperitivo to whet the palate and increase saliva production, thus increasing hunger as you prepare for a large, celebratory meal.

The best thing about prosecco wine is that it can really be served at any time and always gives any occasion an extra bit of elegance and flair. Keep a bottle on hand in your refrigerator at all times – you never know when you’ll have something unexpected to celebrate, and prosecco wine is the perfect wine for celebrations. As we approach New Year’s Eve, Prosecco is even more important – this year, instead of springing for a fancy bottle of champagne, opt for a more affordable be just as exciting!