A Superiore Experience
What you need to know about Prosecco DOCG and the perfect dishes to pair with it.
By Stef Schwalb
Italy is famous for its fabulous food and the diversity of its amazing wines. Each region of the country offers a crave-worthy range of culinary choices in both categories. Here, foodies are never at a loss to discover something new and inspiring, or familiar and enticing.
Since the demands for Prosecco stateside continue to increase, knowledge about the range of styles consumers can enjoy – as well as the ideal foods to pair them with – comes in handy especially when it comes to assessing quality. It’s well worth the trip overseas to experience Conegliano Valdobbiadene (the birthplace of Prosecco and the primary wine region of Prosecco DOCG) because insights from the area provide plenty of inspiration and enjoyment. Just north of Venice, this region features breathtaking landscapes that you have to see to believe with vineyard slopes that are almost unbelievable in their steepness and demand considerable care in cultivation.
The first thing to take note of when it comes to Prosecco DOCG is its superior quality. While Prosecco DOC is grown on the valley floor of the region, Prosecco DOCG is grown on its rolling hills, forcing it to be hand-harvested. Accentuated with picture-perfect skylines that inspire Renaissance masters such as Giovanni Battista Cima to feature them in his work, the hills that punctuate this area not only make for exceptional artistic elements – they also provide the ideal exposure to the environmental elements.
The range of microclimates and mineral-rich terrain are what makes the wine so distinct. Although both types of Prosecco require a minimum of 85 percent of the Glera grape and are made via the same “Italian method” in a specialized tank fermentation that preserves their unique aromatic profile, Prosecco DOCG also comes in three different styles: spumante (full bubbly), frizzante (more gentle), and tranquillo (still). Prosecco DOCG wines are further differentiated by sugar content, which as classified, is counterintuitive to the American wine consumer. The driest version is Brut at 0-12 g/l; Extra Dry is 12-17 g/l; and Dry is 17-32 g/l with the highest concentration level of residual sugar.
Brut is considered the most contemporary of the three versions. It features a wealth of citrus aromas and vegetal notes. It is ideal for pairing with dishes such as fish, vegetable hors d’oeuvres, and seafood pastas. Extra Dry is viewed as more traditional. It showcases hints of apples and pears, as well as citrus and floral elements and pairs well with bean and seafood soups, creamy cheeses, and white meats. Dry is a less common version, highlights both floral and fruity notes with an emphasis on citrus, white peaches, and green apples. Its element of sweetness makes it perfect for both dry pastries and spicy foods. The ideal serving temperature for all wines ranges between 42˚F-46˚F; Dry being served best on the lower end of this scale.
Immersed in the Region
For food lovers who want to make a pilgrimage to the region, autumn is an exceptional time to go. During this time, you can expect to enjoy late harvest radicchio – and lots of it. Radicchio risotto is a highly popular favorite, as well as numerous types of fish local to the area.
Renowned restaurants such as Tre Panoce, known for its gorgeous grounds and interiors that double as a villa and a dreamy destination for weddings, is housed on a hilltop in a 17th century convent that overlooks the Veneto plain. Its menu showcases the best in local ingredients and innovative combinations of regional fish with vegetables and spices. Chef Tino Vettorello is a well-known culinary figure in the area, who is celebrated for his VIP-inspired cuisine. He has presented at the Sochi Olympics, the Venice Film Festival, and more. One of his signature dishes, “Rombo alla Clooney,” was created in honor of Hollywood heartthrob George himself. It features a tender turbot with a shrimp and sea asparagus sauce.
For an alternate VIP experience, visitors can dine at Trattoria Al Castelleto, located at the bottom of the hill from an ancient castle dating back to 1400. This charming, family-run restaurant has been in business since 1979, and its proprietor Mrs. Clemi has a rich backstory cooking for royalty. Here she has created a warm, cozy environment matched only by the comfort and creative flavor combinations of the food. Cheese lovers can indulge in a variety of favorites at Latteria Perezin Cheese Bar, where they will find the international award-winning cheese, Dolce3Viso, a delectable Italian Three Milk Cheese made up of Vacca, Capra, and Bufala. This signature specialty can also be savored stateside at the Fancy Food Show. The company has an annual booth where cheesemaker and co-owner Emanuela Perezin brings cheeses that please the palate and are the perfect pairing for Prosecco DOCG.
While Prosecco DOCG works well with regional ingredients, it’s also versatile enough to pair with a host of global dishes. Just be sure to consider the weight of cuisine to the weight of wine. Prosecco DOCG is distinctly characterized to have an elegant lightness and delicacy that one wouldn’t want to miss by picking flavors that end up overpowering it. Its moderate alcohol and refreshing taste make Prosecco DOCG ideal for numerous events, from Valentine’s Day and bridal party brunches, to apertivo time or elevating a main meal.
A born and bred New Yorker, Stef Schwalb’s love of everything culinary knows no bounds. She has written about food and beverages for several years, covering everything from how to make goat cheese to pairing oysters and Chablis. Schwalb is the senior content manager at Gregory White PR where she writes about enticing food and wine experiences at restaurants, bars & lounges, wineries and wine regions across the globe.