The crème de la crème of Prosecco comes from a steep hillside within the Valdobbiadene region of Italy known as Cartizze. There are just a few challenges to pairing this bubbly sparkler with food.
Sparkling wine pairs with everything?
Some say that sparkling wine is the most easily pairable wine with food. Indeed, its powerful, palate cleansing bubbles are compatible with many types food as Gloria Ferrer demonstrates.
Prosecco, however, is not like other sparkling wines due to its distinctive flavor. Indeed, its effervescence adds life to a party, much like Champagne, but the differences should be noted.
Prosecco vs. Champagne
The basic differences between prosecco and designated Champagne from France can be boiled down to the following:
- Prosecco is made from the glera grape. Champagne is made from a number a grapes, the most common being pinot noir, pinot meunier, and chardonnay.
- Prosecco tastes of pear, apple, and honeysuckle with distinctive sweetness. Champagne has the characteristic toast, brioche notes with high acid.
- Proseccos is often made with the charmat method, where secondary fermentation to produce the bubbles occurs in large stainless steel tanks vs. in the bottle for Champagne.
- Prosecco is cheaper due to the much easier and less expensive charmat method.
This describes most proseccos. Cartizze prosecco, however, is different.
Cartizze Prosecco is at the top
If champagne lies at the top of the pyramid for generic sparkling wines, Cartizze prosecco is at the top of the pyramid for proseccos.
1. Prosecco DOC
At the base of the pyramid lies general prosecco that can come from any of 8 provinces in Italy. The Denomination of Controlled Origin (DOC), was established in 2009 and governs the product regulations and characteristics a prosecco must have.
2. Prosecco DOCG
The middle of the pyramid is Prosecco DOCG defined by the growing area of Conegliano Valdobbiadene hills near Venice in north-east Italy.
The area is defined as a Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin (D.O.C.G.), the highest level of quality for Italian wines.
The label on the cork will be marked DOC or DOCG for easy reference.
3. Cartizze Prosecco
The Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze DOCG lies at the top of the pyramid for proseccos. The grand cru vineyard is a mere 107 hectares within the commune of Valdobbiadene.
Per the DOCG, it contains “the perfect combination of a mild microclimate and very ancient soils.” The cost of land is at premium along with the proseccos produced.
Despite its kinpin status, Cartizze proseccos can range from $30-40, comparable with the lower end of Champagnes.
What does Cartizze Prosecco taste like?
According to this in depth article on GuildSomm:
“If Prosecco is fruity, Cartizze is fruitier. Not only is Cartizze harvested from the best Glera vines Italy offers, in a way, it’s the most Prosecco-y Prosecco a person can enjoy.”
According to VinePair, the grapes grown in Cartizze “are the first to bud and the last to harvest allowing them to obtain full ripeness.”
While Prosecco, including Cartizze, can be made in a number of styles ranging from dry to sweet, you will still have that distinctive taste of the Glera grape expressed in sweet orchard fruit.
I found this to be especially true with the 2016 Cartizze Prosecco Superiore from Silvano Follador ($26).
Pairing a Brut Cartizze Prosecco beyond Oysters
Upon purchasing this Cartizze Prosecco from K&L Wine Merchants, I happened to speak to their Italian wine buyer who insisted that I must drink it with oysters else I shouldn’t buy the wine.
With just 0.3 grams of residual sugar, I didn’t blame him, but why is it always oysters?
Like Marcia Brady, oysters seem to get all the food pairing attention. Oysters go with champagne. Oysters go with Chablis. Everything comes so easy for oysters. Oysters, oysters, oysters!
Unfortunately, there are only so many raw oysters one can eat, and so many more wines to drink.
Other Food Pairing Ideas
The Italian wine buyer made clear that the brut Cartizze Prosecco was not a summer sipper, and I wouldn’t enjoy drinking it solo.
Upon opening the bottle, I had to agree. I had trouble finishing the glass. It was just a bit too naked with no sugar to cover up the pronounced acid/pear/Glera flavor.
With oysters on the halfshell, the prosecco did not have enough acid.
With hamachi crudo, the Cartizze prosecco did fine, but it didn’t have enough sweetness to match the prosecco.
With an aguachile ceviche, the wine did a much better job of playing with the cilantro, chili, and lime marinade along with some fresh orange supremes, since Prosecco is often the sparkler of choice for a mimosa.
Next time you have a Prosecco, keep in mind these 5 ideas.
Wine Pairing Takeaways
- Serve Prosecco in tulip shaped glasses to appreciate the full aroma of the wine.
- The finest expression of the Glera grape is denoted with the DOCG label from Valdobbiadene growing area in Italy. Within that region is Cartizze which lies at the top of the prosecco pyramid for highest quality.
- The Glera grape has an unmaskable sweet quality. Even the brut style prosecco with little to no residual sugar displays fruit character over acid.
- A dry prosecco would do well with a light fish preparation such as crudo or with fruit salsa, especially with fresh peaches or stonefruit.
- Try with a not too sweet dessert such as panettone or poached pears with creme fraiche.
- For contrast, try with a braised meat dish, salty prosciutto wrapped melons, or even a spicy curry.
For more info Prosecco DOCG wines, check out these great posts from the #italianfwt writers:
- Wendy, of A Day in the Life on the Farm, says Summertime and the Living is Easy with Prosecco DOCG in My Glass.
- Jill, of L’Occasion, asks Looking for Freshness? Check out Prosecco DOCG.
- Rupal, the Syrah Queen, writes Prosecco Elevated – Sipping Prosecco Superiore DOCG.
- Jane, of Always Ravenous, pours Prosecco Superiore Paired with Italian Small Bites.
- Deanna, of Asian Test Kitchen, is Pairing Cartizze Prosecco DOCG Beyond Oysters.
- David, for Cooking Chat, says Prosecco Superiore: The Special Italian Sparkling Wine Lives Up To Its Name.
- Liz, of What’s in That Bottle, is Discovering the Delights of Prosecco Superiore.
- Jeff, of FoodWineClick!, goes Beyond Apertif, Enjoy Prosecco Superiore at the Dinner Table.
- Martin, of ENOFYLZ Wine Blog, encourages Getting to Know Prosecco Superiore.
- Pinny, of Chinese Food and Wine Pairings, is Sipping the Day Away with Prosecco DOCG.
- Gwendolyn, of Wine Predator, shares 3 Prosecco DOCG and Calamari with Lemon Caper Sauce.
- Linda, of My Full Wine Glass, offers Take-aways from a week of glorious Prosecco DOCG.
- Jennifer, of Vino Travels, declares Prosecco DOCG is more than just Prosecco.
- Susannah, of Avvinare, is Taking A Closer Look At Prosecco Superiore DOCG.
- Kevin, of Snarky Wine, declares Vintage Prosecco DOCG: Quality Matters.
- Cindy, of Grape Experiences, posts What a Girl Wants: Rosemary Parmesan Popcorn with Prosecco DOC and DOCG.
- Li, of The Wining Hour, asks you to Step Up Your Game with Prosecco Superiore.
- Marcia, of Joy of Wine, shares Prosecco – What’s Really in the Glass.
- Nicole, of Somm’s Table, is Cooking to the Wine: Sorelle Bronca Extra-Dry Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG with Poached Chicken with Pears and Gorgonzola.
- Camilla, of Culinary Adventures with Camilla, is Climbing the Prosecco Hierarchy: To Prosecco Superiore di Cartizze with Steamed Clams, Smoked Scallops, and Capellini.
Do you love Prosecco? Spread the ♥, and please share!