Serving Prosecco—the wonderful sparkling Italian white from the Veneto—is Joe’s and my favorite way to start a celebration, whether an evening with a few friends or a much bigger event. We served prosecco back at our 2008 wedding celebration,
but I couldn’t believe it when I heard a waiter offering “Italian champagne” to our guests! Prosecco is not a version of ANYTHING else, and certainly not anything French (as Joe would say)!
What prosecco is, is a marvelously food-friendly apertif, a smashing way to start an evening that can follow elegantly into a primo of soup, seafood, or salad. At any sort of party, from a big event like a wedding reception to a casual dinner party, prosecco adds the fizzy note that says, “let’s celebrate!”
What makes prosecco our preference over champagne, besides that it’s Italian and not French, is its accessible, fruity simplicity. People new to prosecco who have champagne as their point of comparison are surprised by how easy it is to drink, and how food-friendly it is. There are a few foods for which champagne is the perfect pairing (caviar not being one of them, by the way), but prosecco can pair quite nicely with many dishes which you would accompany with a lighter white wine. When we start a dinner party with prosecco and antipasti (in other words, at just about every dinner party we host), we often encourage our guests to keep drinking prosecco through the first course or two, if they wish.
Prosecco is also surprisingly affordable—there are many to choose from under $20, a price point where champagne is, as far as I’m concerned, undrinkable. There are plenty of brands around to try, so at such a reasonable price it’s worth trying out a few to find one that suits your particular taste best.
The prosecco we served at our wedding, Bele Casel, has a special place in Joe’s and my hearts, so we were delighted to find, as we were planning our 2010 trip to the Veneto, that an agriturismo we had reserved was only a short distance from the winery that makes “our” prosecco. We immediately decided to track the place down and tell them how much their sparkling concoction meant to us! What we found when we followed the map we had made at home was an unassuming and unmarked group of buildings near a modest house: we weren’t sure we were in the right place. But when we asked in our best broken Italian about Bele Casel, the young man who had come to see why our car was in his driveway lit up, and eagerly took us on a complete tour of his facility. I only wish our Italian had been better, because he explained everything about how they make Bele Casel prosecco energetically and happily in rapid Italian that we couldn’t begin to understand!