Prosecco (also known as glera) is a grape traditionally grown in Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia in north-eastern Italy, where it’s made into a light, creamy sparkling white wine also called Prosecco. The best is produced on the terraced hills of Treviso between the small towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene (just 50km from Venice) and, in 2009, this area was granted DOCG status (Italy’s highest wine appellation). To avoid confusion between the appellation and the grape variety it was decided in Europe that the grape would in future be called glera and the appellation Prosecco. Meanwhile, in Australia, in Victoria’s high country, post-WWII Italian immigrant tobacco farmers realised it’d be more profitable (and likely more fun) to grow grapes, and so the King Valley wine region came into being with winery names like Pizzini and Dal Zotto. Featuring some of Australia’s highest vineyards, this region has become the home of Italian varietals in Australia, with its own wine route the King Valley Prosecco Road. Prosecco is a good-value choice for any cocktail featuring sparkling wine, though my favourite five are all traditional Prosecco cocktails from northern Italy, made with five of my favourite Italian and Australian Prosecco. Snack on slices of potato and fontina tart while sipping your apertivi (see video below). Salute!
Invented at Harry’s Bar in Venice, named for artist Giovanni Bellini who was exhibiting in Venice in 1948, and originally made with hand-squeezed white peach puree – these days frozen or bottled puree is acceptable. Pour 1 part white peach puree into a chilled flute and stir in 3 parts Carpenè Malvolti Prosecco.
Aperol Spritz (Veneto)
This cocktail, which chef Alessandro Pavoni introduced me to several years ago, has become the go-to drink when guests arrive for a party at our house! Pour 1 part Aperol and 2 parts La Prova prosecco over lots of ice in a big wine glass and add more or less soda to taste (or depending on who’s driving).
Negroni Sbagliato (Lombardy)
My all time favourite cocktail was created in Milan when a barman mistakenly added Prosecco instead of gin to a Negroni (‘sbagliato’ means ‘mistaken’ in Italian). Pour 1 part red vermouth (I like Punt e Mes), 1 part Campari and 2 parts Zonin Prosecco over ice, stir and garnish with an orange slice.
Sgroppino al Limone (Veneto)
A traditional Venetian mid-course palate cleanser, to which a nip of vodka is often added these days for a refreshing post-dinner drink. Consistency varies with the amount of sorbet, I whisk together equal parts lemon sorbet and Dal Zotto prosecco to a slushie consistency and skip the vodka … but feel free to experiment.
Hugo (Trentino-Alto Adige)
This cocktail from South Tyrol in northern Italy is also very popular in nearby Austria and Germany. You can vary the alcohol and sweetness to suit the occasion, but start by trying equal parts Brown Brothers prosecco and soda with a good dash of elderflower cordial poured over muddled mint and lime with plenty of ice.