We are a nation swimming in prosecco, consuming around 500 million bottles a year of the much-loved Italian sparkler. We have prosecco teas, prosecco brunches and prosecco on tap in bars. We now even have prosecco spa days.
It’s the go-to bottle for an enlivening aperitif, to buy in bulk for a party or just to make a night in with a takeaway feel a bit special: some of us will drink nothing else with our fish and chips. It works well with both canapés and more substantial dishes, particularly seafood. And it can be part of a mean cocktail.
All this makes Britain the number one export market for prosecco, with sales rising by 163 per cent in the five years to 2019. When the pandemic hit, sales of champagne plummeted, while prosecco numbers dropped only slightly: after all, the nation needed some consolation.
While one of the attractions of prosecco is its relatively uniform quality and often budget price, it should be remembered that a lot of sub-£12 prosecco you might pick up in your corner shop don’t always showcase the wine at its best; it can be a little underwhelming and a tad sugary. Pay a little more, or hunt down one of the newer, organic or artisan Proseccos and you will be surprised by the leap in quality and the persistence of the zesty, light, citrus-inflected bubbles.
And read the labels carefully: all prosecco should be made largely from the glera grape and hail from certain areas of the Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia regions of northern Italy. DOC denotes standard prosecco, readily identifiable from the blue stripe on the label at the top, and accounts for the vast bulk of prosecco made; DOCG is more superior, indicated by the brown label on the top of a bottle and can only be made in the Treviso province of Veneto on the hills between the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene. Spumante tells you it’s the fizziest of prosecco – but remember that other Italian sparkling wines, made from different grapes in different areas, can also be labelled vino spumante without being prosecco – and frizzante means the fizz is less intense.
With the holidays ahead of us and a lot of prosecco to be chosen and consumed in the next month, these are our favourites for 2021’s party season.
How we tested
We uncorked a wide range of proseccos across all price points and compared them when drunk on their own, but also with fish canapés, some fried fish including calamari, and some antipasti dishes like tomato and palma ham bruschetta, olives, anchovies and mixed peppers in olive oil; all which made great matches, proving how versatile this sparkler really is. We looked for and found light, citrus-inflected flavours and fresh orchard fruits in abundance, with green apples and comice pears dominating. And remember – always drink it ice cold.
The best proseccos for 2021 are:
- Best overall – La Gioiosa prosecco superiore millesimato valdobbiadene DOCG: £13.49, Waitrose.com
- Best bargain buy – Castellore planeta organic prosecco DOC: £7.49, Aldi.co.uk
- Best rosé prosecco – Vinicola Serena tenuta berni prosecco: £12.80, Hometipple.com
- Best luxury buy – Nani Rizzi valdobbiadene cru cartizze superiore DOCG: £29.99, Bottleswineshop.co.uk
- Best for parties – Colle de Principe organic prosecco: £9.50, Marksandspencer.com
- Best celebrity buy – Della Vite prosecco treviso DOC: £19.90, Thebottleclub.com
- Best present – Bottega pink gold prosecco DOC rosé: £19.42, Gpbrands.co.uk
- Best organic buy – Terre dei Buth prosecco DOC spumante: £14.00, Definefoodandwine.com
- Best bottle design – Alessandro Gallici prosecco anniversaro 2020: £16.99, Laithwaites.com
- Best low sugar – Skinny Witch rosé prosecco DOC: £14.99, Thebottleclub.com
La Gioiosa prosecco superiore millesimato valdobbiadene DOCG
This is simply the perfect prosecco – a great balance between the cheap and cheerful versions and the more elegant and poised style of valdobbiadene. And although the latter is often a little bit more expensive, this is terrific value for money for a really high-quality wine. It’s perfect for some everyday sparkle but also a great bulk buy for a party, where it would be best served with starters or canapés. Either way, you’ll enjoy the light, fragrant aromas of spring hedgerows and orchards, followed by lovely flavours of English pears and green apples.
Castellore planeta organic prosecco DOC
Best: Bargain buy
It is remarkable how Aldi can consistently source wines at these kinds of prices, but cast aside any suspicions about anonymous European wine lake bottles. This one is sourced from a small organic vineyard, just 30km north of Venice, where the glera grapes are hand-picked from vines grown without chemicals. The result is just fabulous: refreshing stone fruit flavours and sumptuous floral aromas. It’s the ideal anytime aperitif and would be perfect for a special brunch. And there is an equally excellent rosé version as well.
Vinicola Serena tenuta berni prosecco
Best: Rosé prosecco
Surprisingly, final approval for prosecco to be sold in the rosé style, where some pinot noir grapes are added to the dominant glera, only came from the Italian wine authorities last year, but the business had been building up to it and so there are already loads of excellent examples out there. This one from Hometipple is simply gorgeous, with generous, fullsome red berry fruit flavours – think dark autumn raspberries, but very dry on the finish – making it brilliant for pairing with food, particularly fish dishes, whether that’s garlicky prawns or spicy crab cakes.
Nani Rizzi valdobbiadene cru cartizze superiore DOCG
Best: Luxury buy
If the Valdobbiadene area delivers the best prosecco, then the vineyards of the steep hillsides in Cartizze, where the quality of its wines were being celebrated as far back as the 14th century, deliver the best of the best, the so-called “grand cru” of prosecco. Reputedly, the value of vineyard land here is more than that in other fabled Italian wine-growing regions such as Barolo or Montalcino. So this wine is about as special and elegant as you can get for prosecco, although the price remains relatively modest, compared to, say, premium champagnes. The elevated growing position gives intense, clean, vibrant flavours of spring blossoms and orchard fruits. This is a wine to be enjoyed as a special occasion aperitif.
Colle de Principe organic prosecco
Best: For parties
The relatively modestly priced prosecco makes it the ideal wine to bulk buy for parties: it makes any occasion more special and will deliver more sheer enlivenment per pound than, say, a similarly priced bottle of still red or white. And, while everyone loves a glass of sparkling, it’s also great for making cocktails or an Aperol spritz, so the party goes with a swing. This is a terrific buy from a reliable high street retailer. Organic, well priced and full of lovely citrusy flavours: what’s not to like?
Della Vite prosecco treviso DOC
Best: Celebrity buy
The latest recruits to the growing list of celebrity wine ventures, following in the footsteps of the likes of Gary Barlow’s reds and Kylie Minogue’s rosés, are the Delevingne sisters: supermodel/actor/socialites Cara and Poppy and their older and much less high-profile sister Chloe, who have recently launched this determinedly upmarket prosecco in conjunction with an established, sustainable and organic estate in Valdobbiadene. While it is very much marketed as their venture, curiously, the Delevingne name doesn’t actually appear on the attractive bottles. Celebrity associations aside, this is a terrific special occasion prosecco that’s full of light, bright bubbles and lovely floral aromas.
Bottega pink gold prosecco DOC rosé
A bottle of sparkling is a great bet for a present or simply to take along to a gathering, but how to make it just a bit more special? Well, Bottega has the answer with this unashamedly blingy bottle. The special treatment of the glass gives a shiny metallic quality to the bottle here, making it a sparkling pink both on the outside and on the inside. And it is not just about the glamour, as the wine is a pitch-perfect, very dry rosé, suitable as both an aperitif and as an accompaniment to fish dishes – particularly sushi or fried calamari.
Terre dei Buth prosecco DOC spumante
Best: Organic buy
While many rightly consider prosecco a mass-produced wine, such is its ubiquity, there are now a wide range of organic and/or vegan, artisan producers around that strive for quality wines with individuality. The Terre dei Buth winemakers, based in Treviso, specialise in a limited selection of sparkling and still wines, with low-key but highly distinctive labels and a simple, organic-led approach. And the result is fabulous – it’s a little deeper and richer than some other prosecco, with some slight brioche hints and fulsome flavours of apples and pears.
Alessandro Gallici prosecco anniversaro 2020
Best: Bottle design
This is just a fabulous-looking bottle from esteemed and long-established producer Allesandro Gallici, created especially for Laithwaites in honour of the wine merchant’s 50th anniversary. But it is what’s in the bottle that really counts and this is a very well-made wine, produced with premium organic grapes and to strict vegan standards. It has real depth on the palate, with ripe orchard stone fruits and a fine, persistent mousse. Another one suited to gifting.
Skinny Witch rosé prosecco DOC
Best: For low sugar
The perception that a lot of prosecco, particularly at the budget end, is a bit on the sweetish side – caused by over-enthusiastic use of the “dosage” that goes into most sparkling wines – has put off a lot of potential consumers. So here comes this determinedly low-sugar option, which is really just a very dry rosé, with really full red fruit flavours of raspberries and wild strawberries. It’s the ideal accompaniment to a variety of seafoods, but will be particularly good with a prawn risotto.
The verdict: Proseccos
We believe there is a prosecco here for all budgets and all occasions. Despite the drunk’s image as cheap and cheerful, there is now another side to prosecco that includes more refined and often organic and sustainable wines for special occasions. The La Gioiosa prosecco superiore millesimato valdobbiadene DOCG, coming from the prime prosecco area, ticks all the boxes: it’s an elegant bottle that delivers great value for money.
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