Prosecco Wine: History, Information, Interesting Facts

Prosecco wine: history, information, interesting facts


Prosecco is undoubtedly one of the most famous and appreciated Italian wines in the world. The main reasons for such a reputation are its great pleasantness and versatility: characteristics that, during the last few years, have led to a huge increase in sales. Let’s find out its history, how it’s produced and a lot of interesting facts. Let’s visit the enchanting lands where its vines grow.

Prosecco wine: the Italian sparkling excellence.


The history of Prosecco wine.

As often happens when dealing with Italian food and wine specialties, some scholars trace the origins of Prosecco back to the period of ancient Rome. Although well-founded, it’s important to point out that this is just a hypothesis (*1), according to which the ancestor of this wine could be the ‘Pucino’, Prosecco wine: Pliny the Elder, 'Naturalis historia' (img-01) described by Pliny the Elder (*2) in his famous treatise, the ‘Naturalis historia’. At the time of the Empire, the ‘vinum Pucinum’ was regarded as a true delicacy, much appreciated by the most eminent personalities (*3), who attributed to it medicinal qualities, to the point of considering it an elixir of long life.
An interesting proof of the connection between Pucino and Prosecco can be found in the travel notes of an English gentleman, Fynes Moryson. In 1593 he wrote:

Prosecco wine: Livia Drusilla, wife of Emperor Augustus (img-02)

“Histria is devided into Forum Julii, and Histria, properly so called (…). Here growes the wine Pucinum, now called Prosecho, much celebrated by Pliny”

This quote is very precious also because suggests the region in which, presumably, Prosecco started to be produced. An area where is located a place of fundamental importance in the history of this wine: the ‘Castle of Prosecco’ (*4). It’s probably no coincidence that the fortress, dating back to the Thirteenth Century, is identified by many experts as the ancient ‘castellum nobile vino Pucinum’.

*1: Some scholars speculate that ‘Pucino‘ may be the ancestor of ‘Ribolla Gialla’ instead of Prosecco;
*2: Pliny the Elder was a military commander, writer, naturalist philosopher and Roman governor in the 1st century AD;
*3: Including Livia Drusilla, wife of Emperor Augustus;
*4: The castle is also known as ‘Torre di Prosecco’ or ‘Castello di Moncolano’ (more information). It’s located not far from the ‘Prosecco’ district of the Municipality of Trieste.


Prosecco, the origins of the name.

Prosecco wine: Cover page of ‘Il Roccolo Ditirambo’, 1754 (cc-01)

The first written evidence of the use of the word ‘Prosecco’ dates back to 1593 and can be found in the travel notebook already mentioned in the previous paragraph. Its author, Fynes Moryson, clearly mentions the ‘Prosecho’, a wine originating from the north-eastern part of the Italian peninsula. Reading these notes, it’s surprising to find out that, at the time, Prosecco was already very famous: Moryson equates it to other excellent products such as, for example, Vernaccia (‘vernazza’), Moscato (‘muscadine’) and Lacryma Christi (‘lagrima di Christo’).
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Another precious evidence can be found in a poem published in Venice in 1754: the ‘Roccolo Ditirambo’, written by the scholar Aureliano Acanti (*1). Here follows a very interesting quote from this work:

“Ed or ora immolarmi voglio il becco con quel melaromatico Prosecco di Monteberico quello perfetto Prosecco eletto ci dà lo splendido nostro canonico.”

““… and now I would like so much to wet my mouth with the Prosecco from Monteberico, enjoying its apple bouquet. It’s the perfect Prosecco, a true example for all the others.”

In addition to the explicit reference to ‘Prosecco’, this passage is intriguing because it indicates that in the XVIII century this wine was produced with great success on the Berici Hills (“perfetto Prosecco eletto”), near the city of Vicenza.

*1: Anagram of the original name ‘Valeriano Acanti’.

Prosecco wine: Prosecco grapes.


Prosecco wine: the production areas.

Prosecco wine: The Prosecco Regions.

Nowadays, eighty percent of the Prosecco sold in the world is produced in the Italian region of Veneto, the remaining twenty percent in the neighboring region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia.
According to the official DOC procedural guideline (*1), the grapes used for the wine must come from these territories.
Over time, two particular zones stood out from the others for the excellent quality of their Prosecco, not by chance awarded with the DOCG label: we’re speaking about the beautiful hills of Asolo and Conegliano-Valdobbiadene, both in the province of Treviso.

*1: This is the most estensive (from a territorial point of view) Italian DOC.


Prosecco DOC and Superiore DOCG.

The DOC and DOCG labels have been adopted by the Italian State to certify the quality of the best wines produced in its territory (*1) and to protect them from imitations (*2). On 17 July 2009 the DOC ‘Prosecco’ and two DOCG, ‘Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG’ (*3) and ‘Asolo Prosecco Superiore DOCG’ were established. This represented the culmination of a process lasted many years, officializing the international success of this wine.

Prosecco wine: Conegliano-Valdobbiadene DOCG (crt-01) Prosecco wine: Conegliano-Valdobbiadene DOCG (crt-01)

Conegliano-Valdobbiadene DOCG

Prosecco from Conegliano-Valdobbiadene is the highest expression of this wine. Such a great quality is due to the territory in which its grapes grow: a real jewel, located between the city and Venice and the Dolomites Mountains. Thanks to the hard work of man, over the centuries the fascinating hills characterizing the landscape of this zone have been made suitable for the cultivation of vine (*4). A huge effort which has borne fruit, since in this area ‘Glera’ has found its ideal habitat (*5).

Prosecco wine: Asolo DOCG. Prosecco wine: Asolo DOCG.

Asolo DOCG

The hills of Asolo and Montello, not far from the Dolomites, are the home of ‘Prosecco di Asolo DOCG’. These reliefs have an altitude ranging from 100 to 450 meters. The production area of the grapes includes 19 Municipalities, located around the town of Asolo. The soil of this zone provides a good amount of minerals to the plants of Glera (*5), its slope allows excess water to flow. The result is an elegant and delicate wine, characterized by a good balance between sugars and acids, a soft taste and a floral and fruity scent.

*1: With the adoption of specific procedural guidelines (‘disciplinari di produzione’).
*2: More information about DOC and DOCG labels can be found in this article: ‘The Italian DOC and DOCG wines’.
*3: Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Prosecco got the DOC label in 1969.
*4: Thanks to the use of ‘terraces’ (‘terrazzamenti’).
*5: The vine giving life to Prosecco grapes.


The landscapes of Prosecco Superiore DOCG.

The vines from which Prosecco Superiore DOCG is born are often part of landscapes so unique to deserve international recognition: that’s why the recent inclusion of the hills of Conegliano-Valdobbiadene in the UNESCO World Heritage List is not surprising. In this regard, it’s fair to point out that the Asolo hills are just as exquisite.
Here follow some images that, more than a thousand words, can illustrate the heartbreaking beauty of these places:


Prosecco grapes.

Prosecco wine: Prosecco grape.

The Prosecco procedural guideline (‘disciplinare’) (*2) requires that this wine has to be produced with at least 85% of the white grape variety known as ‘Glera’. For the remaining 15% it’s possible to use the fruit of other vines, carefully chosen considering the taste and olfactory result to be obtained:

  • Perera: increases aroma and fragrance;
  • Verdisio: increases sapidity;
  • Bianchetta Trevigiana: helps to refine the alcoholic tenor;
  • Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and White Pinot Noir are used in the production of ‘spumante’ (these too in a percentage not exceeding 15%).

*1: The name ‘Prosecco’ has been (erroneously) used for a long time to indicate both the grape variety and wine.
*2: The DOC and DOCG procedural guidelines.

Prosecco wine: Prosecco vine (crt-02)


How Prosecco wine is made?

Both the types of sparkling Prosecco, ‘frizzante’ and ‘spumante’, are produced using the ‘Martinotti’ method, also known as ‘Charmat’. Here follow a short list of the steps (click here to view the printable infographic):

Prosecco wine: Prosecco grapes.

According to the procedural guideline, Prosecco must be produced with at least 85% of ‘Glera’ grapes.

Prosecco wine: The ‘pressing’.

The grapes are softly pressed (the ‘pressing’), obtaining the ‘must’ (‘mosto’): a liquid substance dense and turbid.

Prosecco wine: Wine decanting.

The must is put to rest in special tanks. Its heaviest parts decant.

Prosecco wine: The ‘fermentation’.

The clear part is decanted in steel cylinders at a controlled temperature. The addition of selected yeasts triggers the ‘fermentation’: sugar is transformed into alcohol and carbon dioxide, the must becomes wine.

Prosecco wine: The ‘cuvée’.

This ‘base wine’ is enriched with other batches of base wines differing from each other for specific organoleptic characteristics, for the origin and for the time of the harvest. The ‘cuvée’ is born.

Prosecco wine: The ‘refermentation’.

The wine is decanted in large pressure chambers, the ‘autoclaves’. Yeasts and sugar are added, triggering a second fermentation, the ‘refermentation’.

Prosecco wine: The wine becomes ‘sparkling’.

During the refermentation, the yeasts metabolize the sugar, producing alcohol and carbon dioxide. The latter, retained by the pressure, stays ‘imprisoned’ in the wine, making it ‘sparkling’.

Prosecco wine: Ready for bottling.

The procedure can last from a minimum of 30 days up to 90. After this period, the sparkling wine is ready for bottling. Forty more days will be necessary before selling it.


Different types of Prosecco wine.

Prosecco is sold in three different types:

Prosecco ‘tranquillo’ (‘quiet’).
It’s the ‘historic’ Prosecco, since it was the first to be sold, before the invention of the Martinotti (or Charmat) sparkling method. The term ‘quiet’ (‘tranquillo’), indicates the lack of bubbles.
Color: Straw yelllow;
Aromas: fruity (apple, pear, almond) and floral (acacia flowers);
Minimum alcoholic strength: 10.5% vol.
Serving temperature: 8°/10° C

Prosecco ‘frizzante’ (‘lightly sparkling’).
Prosecco wine: Lightly sparkling Prosecco. This type of Prosecco is produced in autoclave (Martinotti / Charmat method), using an ‘overpressure’ lower than that used for sparkling wine. This leads to a smaller presence of carbon dioxide in the wine (‘less bubbles’) and therefore in a not very persistent perlage.
Color: Straw yellow, sometimes enriched with greenish reflections;
Aromas: fruity (apple, peach, pear) and floral (white spring flowers);
Minimum alcoholic strength: 9% vol.
Serving temperature: 8°/10° C

Prosecco ‘spumante’ (‘sparkling’).
Prosecco wine: Sparkling Prosecco. It’s undoubtedly the type most known worldwide. This sparkling wine is traditionally produced in autoclave, using the Martinotti / Charmat method.
Color: Straw yellow;
Minimum alcoholic strength: 11% vol.

According to the residual quantity of sugar, sparkling Prosecco is:
Sugar residue: 0 / 12 g/l
Aromas: hints of citrus with vegetal notes. Bread crust.
Serving temperature: 6°/8° C
Sugar residue: 12 / 17 g/l
Aromas: fruity (apple, pear, citrus) and floral.
Serving temperature: 6°/8° C
Sugar residue: 17 / 32 g/l
Aromas: fruity (green apple, peach)
Serving temperature: 6° C


The great success of Prosecco wine in the world.

Prosecco wine: The great success of Prosecco.

The great international success of Prosecco began in the 1990s. Between 2013 and 2014 the number of its bottles sold on the world market surpassed those of Champagne. Not surprisingly, the most appreciated type is ‘spumante’.
Nowadays this wine is at the very center of a huge business involving hundreds of wineries and thousands of farmers, scattered in nine provinces between Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia.
In addition to Italy, the reference markets for Prosecco are the United Kingdom, the United States and Germany. In this respect, it’s interesting to find out that the nation with the largest increase in sales is France.
The success of this wine should be largely attributed to its incredible quality-price ratio, something that makes very difficult to beat its achievements.

WebFoodCulture: the most typical specialties, the most traditional restaurants and producers.

The most typical specialties, the most traditional restaurants and producers.


‘Terraces’ for Prosecco wine.

Prosecco wine: The ‘terraces’ of the Prosecco Superiore DOCG.

Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG owes much of its great quality to the morphology of the territory in which its grapes grow: a hilly area, often characterized by very steep slopes that, while offering well-exposed and drained soils, are very difficult to cultivate. To remedy this problem, at least partially, over the centuries the locals have modified these slopes using a particular type of terracing, known as ‘ciglione’, which stands out for the use of grassy ground instead of the classic retaining stone walls. Needless to say, this choice, in addition to making cultivation a little easier (*1), has contributed to the creation of a breathtaking landscape, unique in the world.

*1: Cultivation that often remains so difficult to be known as ‘heroic’, considering the huge effort required of the farmers.


Cartizze and Prosecco Superiore Rive, the ‘best of the best’.

If the Prosecco produced in the hills of Asolo and Conegliano-Valdobbiadene can be considered the best of this type of wine, there are two particular selections of the same wine that, in a way, are the ‘best of the best’. We are talking about ‘Cartizze’ and ‘Prosecco Superiore Rive’.
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‘Prosecco Superiore Rive’:
The word ‘rive’ indicates the steepest slopes of the hills of Conegliano-Valdobbiadene: inaccessible places, where working is a heroic undertaking. Why then struggle so much to cultivate them? The answer is simple: these lands are the ideal habitat for ‘glera’. The particular nature of the soil and the precious benefits provided by the perfect altitude and exposure, help this vine to produce excellent grapes, from which an inimitable wine arises (*1). Please remember that ‘Rive’ can only be sparkling wines.

There is no doubt that ‘Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze’ is a very special wine. Its grapes are born in an extremely small area: just over 100 hectares near the Municipality of Valdobbiadene. Difficult lands, located on the steepest slopes of the hills of Santo Stefano, Saccol and San Pietro di Barbozza, made unique by a microclimate particularly suited to the cultivation of ‘glera’ and a very special soil that, in the distant past, was part of the seabed. These factors give life to a great sparkling wine, whose quality is appreciated by many admirers all over the world.

*1: Prosecco, to be called ‘Rive’, must comply with many more regulations than a ‘normal’ Prosecco Superiore. Regulations about, for example, the grape harvest, which must be performed by hand, the production quantities and the indication of the place of origin.

Prosecco wine: Conegliano-Valdobbiadene lanscape.


Prosecco vs Champagne.

Prosecco wine: Lady riding a  champagne cork (img-03)

Although many think that the Italian Prosecco and the French Champagne are specialties eternally competing with each other, this is absolutely not true, since these wines are completely different from each other, boasting very different characteristics and thus impossible to compare.
Champagne, for example, is often more complex than Prosecco, while the latter finds its greatest virtue in its ease of drinking and in the unsurpassed pleasantness.


Conegliano, Valdobbiadene and Asolo, the places of origin of Prosecco DOCG.

The grapes used to produce Prosecco DOCG come from the areas surrounding three small towns in the Italian region of Veneto: Conegliano, Valdobbiadene and Asolo.



This article is the fruit of the collaboration between WebFoodCulture, the Consorzio Tutela del Vino Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG and the Consorzio Asolo Prosecco, the most traditional producers of Prosecco wine. The information provided illustrate the actual characteristics of the specialty.

Prosecco wine: how is made? Printable infographic.


Prosecco wine: how is made? Printable infographic.

Click here to view (and, eventually, download) a printable schema showing the steps necessary to produce Prosecco wine.


The hills of Conegliano-Valdobbiadene recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In July 2019 the 21 states that make up the Unesco Committee unanimously decided to recognize the area between the Italian municipalities of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene as World Heritage Site.
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It’s a territory of 97 square kilometers, in which culture and landscapes form a deep connection. A real treasure, strongly characterized by the presence of endless rows of vines that, like a precious diadem, coronate the steep slopes of the local hills.
Not surprisingly, one of the most renowned wines in the world is born right from these rows: the Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG.


Prosecco millesimato.

Prosecco wine is ‘millesimato’ when at least 85% of its grapes is harvested in the same year. It’s therefore no coincidence that usually these wines are made in years considered particularly good.


The Prosecco wine route.

The ‘Prosecco wine route’ (‘Strada del Prosecco’), the oldest Italian wine route, was instituted in 1966 and developed over time: today it’s 120 kilometers long.
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It consists of different itineraries crossing the hilly area around the small towns of Valdobbiadene and Conegliano, offering extremely suggestive views. Enchanted landscapes, where the world of wine meets history and culture. The local vineyards are embellished by ancient hermitages, medieval villages, villas and castles. Even taste has its share, thanks to restaurants where it’s possible to savor the most typical specialties.

WebFoodCulture: only the most typical and traditional food & wine.



The first Italian Wine School.

Probably not everyone knows that the town of Conegliano is home to the Istituto Cerletti, the first Italian wine school, founded in 1876. The ‘Cerletti’ has great importance in the history of Prosecco since the ‘Martinotti’ (or ‘Charmat’) method for the production of sparkling wine was invented here.


Music for Prosecco wine.

A short selection of baroque music to accompany the reading of this article:

Note: join Spotify and listen to the full songs for free.


Prosecco drinks: Prosecco wine in the ‘Spritz’.

Prosecco is a very versatile wine. No wonder it’s used to prepare many types of cocktails, including the famous ‘Spritz’, whose ingredients are:
Prosecco wine;
Aperol / Campari;
Soda / seltz;


Prosecco wine and the ‘Cité des Civilizations du Vin’.

In 2016 the Consorzio di Tutela del Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG became a partner of one of the most famous cultural institutions dedicated to the world of wine: the ‘Cité des Civilizations du Vin’ in Bordeaux.


Prosecco wine: alcoholic content.

The alcoholic content of Prosecco is not very high. The minimum is generally around 10%, though there are exceptions, like the Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze: 11%.


Prosecco calories.

100mls of sparkling Prosecco contain about 70kcals, this means that a 750mls bottle contains about 525kcals.

Prosecco wine: Cartizze: the origins of the name.


Cartizze: the origins of the name.

It’s difficult to know with certainty the origins of the name ‘Cartizze’, there are many hypotheses: according to the most likely, it could derive from ‘gardizze’, the term used by the people of Valdobbiadene to indicate the drying racks for grapes. Another hypothesis suggests that the name could derive from that of a flower, the ‘cardo’ (‘thistle flower’).


Imitation attempts.

As it happens to the most famous food and wine products in the world, over time also Prosecco has suffered several imitation attempts.
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The European regulations have recently prevented some of them: for example, in the case of the Croatian ‘Prošek’, whose name had to be changed in 2013, despite being a completely different type of wine.
Outside Europe these regulations, at least for the moment, have no effect: that’s why it’s possible the great success of ‘Espumante Garibaldi Prosecco’ in Brazil and of ‘Vintage Pucino Prosecco’ in Australia.

Prosecco wine: Aureliano Acanti about Prosecco wine.

(Aureliano Acanti)


Prosecco wine and the environment.

Since 2011, the Consorzio di Tutela del Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG has followed the Wine Protocol (‘Protocollo vinicolo’): it’s a set of rules inspired to environmental sustainability. The purpose is to choose over time forms of agriculture increasingly less invasive, for example by avoiding the use of dangerous molecules.


The Prosecco DOCG Consortia: contacts.

Consorzio Tutela del Vino Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG
Official website:
Tel.: +39 0438 83028

Prosecco wine: Consorzio Asolo Prosecco - Official Logo (logo-02)

Consorzio Asolo Prosecco
Official website:
Tel.: +39 331 5730216


Prosecco wine: Click here.

The images bearing the logo ‘webfoodculture’ are copyrighted.

The following images are public domain:

img-01 (*) – Pliny the Elder, ‘Naturalis historia’, Venice, 1469 (Wikipedia Link) {PD-Art} {PD-US}
img-02 (**) – Livia Drusilla, Fould Collection, image owner Marie-Lan Nguyen (Wikipedia Link) {PD-Art} {PD-US}
img-03 (*) – Grape-Shot, Lordprice Collection, 1915 (Wikipedia Link) {PD-Art} {PD-US}
img-04 (*) – Typus Orbis Terrarum, by Ortelius Abraham, 1587 (Wikipedia Link) {PD-Art} {PD-US}

The following images are made available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported:

cc-01 (**) – Cover page of ‘Il Roccolo Ditirambo’, 1754, image owner Sinf1226 (Wikipedia Link)
cc-02 (**) – Istituto ‘Cerletti’, Wine School in Conegliano, facade, image owner Polarstar (Wikipedia Link)

The following images are published courtesy of:

crt-01 – Images published courtesy of the Consorzio Tutela del Vino Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco;
crt-02 – Images published courtesy of the Consorzio Asolo Prosecco;

Logos published courtesy of:

logo-01 – Logo published courtesy of Consorzio Tutela del Vino Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco;
logo-02 – Logo published courtesy of Consorzio Asolo Prosecco;

(*) The copyright of this image has expired.
(**) Image released in public domain by its author.