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Love it or hate it, Prosecco is here to stay

It's crisp, refreshing, and Italian. It's Prosecco!
It's crisp, refreshing, and Italian. It's Prosecco!

Haven't tried Prosecco yet? Well, if you haven't you're either a person of superbly defensive good taste; or missing out on the wine story of the last few years. 

First off, what's Prosecco? It's an Italian sparkling wine. Unlike Champagne, it's usually quite cheap. Your typical bottle of Prosecco won't run you much more than $10. The main difference between the Grande Dame of beverages and its lesser Italian cousin is that Champagne gets its bubbles from a secondary fermentation process in-bottle. Not so, Prosecco.

When I first got into wine, in the 1980s, you never saw Prosecco. Now you see it everywhere. We served it as an aperitif at my wedding — and even then, we were on the leading edge of a trend. But nowadays, being handed a glass of Prosecco when you walk into a dinner party is as common as being handed a Martini used to be (not sure if that's progress, but there you have it).

For the most part, Prosecco is innocuous. It's fizzy and crisp. Well-chilled, it makes a lovely quaff on a warm day. The problem comes from its general lack of full, fruity body. Prosecco's are on the lean side. In the old days, they used to be fairly sweet, but not so much anymore. Now, they're typically bitter, nutty, and dry. 

For some, this is great. Other say that Prosecco is basically tasteless. For my part, I'd rather have Champagne, but there's nothing wrong with something a little more low-key. 

When it comes to Prosecco quality, I don't think you need to fixate on a particular brand. I wouldn't buy something that costs $3. But Something that costs $20 isn't going to be a whole lot better than something that costs $12. If you're confused about choices, however, Mionetto is a brand that pioneered Prosecco in the USA. So look for that.