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Prosecco, a beginners guide.

Prosecco is currently the UK's most imported drink. Where's it from? What's it all about and how can you spot a good one?

Prosecco is the name of a region in north-east Italy. Prosecco used to be the name of the grape, but they changed that grape's name to Glera. So Glera is the grape that makes the drink Prosecco from the region of Italy called Prosecco. Got that! If any wine wants to be called Prosecco it has to be produced in this region.

Prosecco is a sparkling white wine. On the label it may say 'spumante'. You probably knew that already. Did you know though that it can also be 'frizzante'. This is a semi-sparkling version, the bubbles don't last as long, but re-form inside your mouth when you drink it, a bit like popping candy. Prosecco also comes as a still white wine, but this version is very much kept by the locals and not really exported. So if you're in the region keep a look out for it.

All Prosecco bottles carry enough information to let you make wise choices as to which bottle to buy. On the label look for the letters DOC. This will tell you it's produced in the better region. If it has IGT on the label it's probably not going to be great.

However, if you can see this strip of paper on or around the top of the bottle you could be onto a winner. On the label you need to be looking for the name Prosecco Superiore. This tells you it's the better made Prosecco, and then look out for the name Valdobbiadene. This is the best region of them all for this sparkling wine.

Wine from this region has been known for its health boosting properties.

Livia, the wife of the emperor Augustus, drank it for it's medicinal properties, so if she did so can you!

Prosecco isn't rally a wine to be kept, it is best drunk young within three years of being produced. It's meant to be a light refreshing wine and goes well with light summer puddings or as an aperitif. It shouldn't have huge amount of flavour and what you should taste should remind you of pears and pear drops and a taste of bitter almonds at the end. However, if you've never tasted bitter almond you won't recognise the taste!

Annually there are 150,000,000 bottles of Prosecco produced. It really can be a very pleasant drink if you get a good one. Glera grape fizzy wines are now being produced in Brazil, Romania, Argentina and Australia, so watch out for imitators.

So enjoy your Prosecco and may it bring you health and happiness. Salute, cin cin, as the Italians say.

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