Spumante vs. Prosecco can offer a clearer insight into a better understanding of the ‘bubbly.’ Even though both fall into the sparkling White wine category, these are quite different in various ways. Also, certain similarities and curiosity surround these two sparkling White wine varieties. So, which one is it going to be? What bubbly should you club at a formal wedding reception, and what goes well for a casual ‘Pizza-evening’? What sets Spumante and Prosecco apart? Let’s uncork the answers!”
The word Spumante can be considered an umbrella term used to determine an entire category of wines that comprise Sparkling wine. Essentially, this wine variety comprises all the wines that release the characteristic bubbles when the bottle is opened. The main reason for this phenomenon is the presence of Carbon dioxide that has been trapped in the bottle at the time of the ‘second fermentation’ process that occurs in the bottle itself. Interestingly the term is known as presa di spuma” or bottle fermentation. One can easily understand the characteristic of the Spumante by the fact that the second fermentation takes place in the bottle itself. This is also known as the ‘Classic method’ of wine production, also known as Champenoise.
Likewise, there is yet another method, also known as the Charmat method or the Martinotti-Charmat; in this case, the fermentation is carried out in steel autoclaves. According to the method implied, the wine produced is dry, extra dry, brut, and extra brut: The terms here signify the sweetness of the wine.
To better understand the difference between Spumante and prosecco, we should get up close ad personal with the Prosecco and how it differs. Specifically speaking, we need to understand that prosecco is a DOC or the controlled designation of origin; or DOCG-controlled and guaranteed designation of origin white wine like Montello e Colli Asolani or Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Prosecco.
Here the Charmat method is applied to produce the exclusive sparkling white wine: Prosecco. It is also distinguished by the rate at which the bubbles are created, slowly and eventually, in the bottle.
At the very base of the qualitative pyramid is the DOC Prosecco (410 million bottles), followed by Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG (83 million bottles), Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG concerning “Rive” or banks, where the most suitable vines grow, and produce 1.9 million bottles), and at the very top of the pyramid is Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze DOCG, a hill of 265 acres producing 1.4 million bottles. According to the sweetness, it can be served as an aperitif (brut and extra dry) or with dessert (dry).
Here, experts advise pairing certain specific versions with Fish: brut nature, extra brut, and brut; or the others that go great with ethnic, sweet, sour, and spicy foods: Dry and Extra Dry.
The Winemaking Process
Let us quickly get into the details of the methods utilized in the winemaking process.
1. The Traditional Method or the classic method (méthode classique)
This is also known as the classic method for producing Sparkling wine. In this method, fermentation occurs in the barrel, and the second fermentation occurs in the bottle after the Yeast is introduced. The second fermentation method involves Yeast and Sugar that introduces the ‘Sparkle’ or the Bubbly-ness. Next, the Yeast Precipitate known as the ‘Lees’ should be removed. This process involves the inversion and turning of the neck downwards and is periodically shaken to allow the lees to get trapped in the neck. The final step involves cooling down the bottles so that the lees stick to the block of ice and are eventually removed.
This entire process was earlier done manually; however, it has been automated now, and carbon dioxide is also introduced for the wine to ‘Mature’ more. This storage stage can go on for 15 months for non-vintage and three years for vintage wine.
2. The Tank Method
Firstly one needs to consider that, like ‘Champagne,’ the term ‘Prosecco’ is legally protected. Hence only sparkling wine from the regions in Friuli and Veneto, which form the Prosecco DOC or Prosecco DOCG areas, can be labeled as ‘Prosecco.’ The tank method is also known as the Charmat or Italian method. In this method, most of the cheap sparkling wines are produced worldwide. This is rather a more budget-friendly method in which the secondary fermentation in the bottle does not takes place:
- The grapes are harvested, pressed, and fermented to produce a dry ‘cuvée.
- Then, this wine is put into a large stainless steel tank. Along goes a mixture of sugar, yeast nutrients, and a fining agent. The tank is sealed, and secondary fermentation occurs under properly controlled conditions.
- Once the secondary fermentation is completed, the wine now has bubbles, i.e., it is ‘sparkling.’ At this point, the dead yeast cells, or lees, are removed by filtration.
- Finally, under a pressurized environment, the resulting sparkling wine is bottled.
Those who know about the traditional method will appreciate that the Charmat method is a much simpler process. This is because it only needs less time and less physical labor to produce sparkling wine. This results in wines prepared by this method being much cheaper. On the flip side, most critics will agree that these types of wines are considerably simpler than any made by the traditional method, as it lacks nuances and will not be able to age like the great cava and champagnes usually do.
Flavor Profiles and Varietal Composition
Essentially the Spumante wines are produced at all levels of sweetness. Asti Spumante Dolce DOCG is sweet, and it’s the most widely exported DOCG across the globe. It is well-known for its elegant sweetness, persistent bubbles, light body, peach, pear, and honeysuckle notes.
Prosecco is popular for its light, fruity simplicity. It has very characteristic floral fragrances, often categorized as sweet and honeysuckle-like. As per taste, Prosecco has medium to high acidity with a prominent fruity character. Most experts describe the flavor as having notes of lemon, citrus, green apple, and pear.
The main difference between these two Sparkling varieties is that the Spumante can be prepared in any area in the world using any variety of Grapes. However, the Prosecco, whether it is a DOC or a DOCG, can only be prepared in specific areas of the Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia, using Glera, Verdiso, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio or Pinot noir grapes. Also, only the Charmat method is implied for producing this wine variety.
Sweetness Levels and Styles
Let us take a look at the sweetness levels of the two wine types and how they differ:
When you select a bottle of Prosecco from the local supermarket or convenience store, or maybe you are at a bar and looking to order a glass, you must also be aware that you can also ‘select’ the sweetness level in your Prosecco. While some of us prefer a sweeter style of Prosecco, that apple/pear / floral character that we all love (thanks to the Glera grape), some of us also prefer a toned-down sweetness level. So, here are the sweetness levels in Prosecco:
- Brut Nature – 0 to 3g/l of residual sugar
- Extra Brut – up to 6g/l of residual sugar
- Brut – 0 to 12g/l of residual sugar
- Extra Dry – 12 to 17g/l of residual sugar
- Dry (Sec/Secco) – 17 to 32g/l of residual sugar
- Semi-Secco (Demi-Sec) – up to 50g/l residual sugar
One must know that the sweetness levels have a big part in how the Prosecco in your glass is ‘presented’ to you. We often get asked about the sweetness; for this answer, we always ask people to check the bottle’s label. Amongst a lot of information and wording, one might also observe one of the above sweetness levels; most times for Prosecco, this will be Brut and Extra Dry. Prosecco remains one of the most popular sparkling wines purchased/served in the UK, with more than 113 million bottles being sold in 2020.
Technically speaking, Spumante is a subcategory of wine rather than a single variety of wine. Its flavor is influenced by the type of grapes used, the area, and how long the wine has been aged or fermented. Producers further divide Spumante into groups based on its sugar amount, which also affects its taste.
When it comes to the other bubbly, the Spumante, the sweetness can be categorized as any of the below
1. Extra brut
The sugar contents range from 0 gm per liter to about 6 gm per liter; these sparkling wines are the least sweet. Though the word ‘brut’ implies ‘dry,’ it describes the absence of sweetness rather than moisture.
This is the description of the dry sparkling wine, which is sweeter or less dry than extra brut. Here, brut Spumante has fewer than 12 gm of sugar per liter. A white wine with the same amount of sugar will taste sweeter than a sparkling wine with less sugar.
3. Extra Dry
12-17 gm of sugar are found in every liter of sparkling wine with an extra dry label. Despite being dry, it has a higher level of sweetness than brut and extra brut Spumantes.
Dry sparkling wines are those that comprise 17-32 gm of sugar per liter. Dry Spumante tastes more like sweet apricots, which are sweet yet have a slight astringency on the palate.
Demi-sec, or ‘semi-dry,’ implies a sweet Spumante. Demi-sec champagne is the perfect choice for drinkers of sweet wines because it usually comprises a high residual sugar content (33 gm to 50 gm per liter).
This is the sweetest Spumante and is called Doux Spumante. Generally, it has more than 50 gm of residual sugar per liter. The presence of sugar turns into a treat in itself. Despite being simpler to manufacture, Doux Spumante is tough to acquire these days because drier varieties like Brut Champagne are so well-liked. However, sweet sparkling wine applies to almost all situations.
Serving and Food Pairing
Both the Spumante and Prosecco are known to be Sparkling White wine varieties, and these go well with the following food options:
- Angel Food Cake
- Anything spicy – Pad Thai, Curry
- Prosciutto and Burrata Pizza
- Raw Oysters
- White Chocolat
- Smoked Salmon
- Fruit-Based Desserts and Tarts
- Mascarpone Cheese
- Fried Mushrooms
- Shortbread Cookies
- Cocktail Sausages
- Toffee, Rocca,
- Salted caramels
Prosecco is best served chilled—between 40 and 45℉. If you have an hour or two to spare, a refrigerator is typically kept at or around 40℉ and will get your Prosecco to the ideal temperature in no time. Instead of being served in a flûte but in a stemmed glass with a precise shape that could be categorized as “diamond-shaped.” This glass type is as tall as the flûte but reaches its maximum diameter at the midpoint. As for the flute, it has a long, narrow shape throughout.
The Spumante should be served at 42°F to 46°F for the younger bottles and about 50°F or 53°F for the more mature ones that might have fermented for quite some months. The Spumante glass is the perfect choice for this wine. It is characterized by an elegant tulip shape with harmonious curves and balanced proportions to allow generous space for aromas to unveil, grow and intensify. This glass also comprises a ‘sparkling point’ to aid the formation of the Champagne bubbles!
Comparing Asti Spumante and Prosecco
Asti Spumante is a sparkling Italian wine that has grown increasingly popular worldwide. Let’s appreciate the unique characteristics of this delicious and aromatic beverage and look at its aroma, body, tannin levels, acidity, and alcohol content.
The fragrance of Asti Spumante is often described as distinct and sweet, with notes of peach, pear, flowers, citrus, and green apples. This wine is known to be one of the more aromatic wines out there and can easily be characterized by its strong fragrance.
Regarding Asti’s body, Spumante ranges from light to medium-bodied according to the vintage or blend. It comprises a crisp yet refreshing mouthfeel that will please any palate.
This wine includes low tannin levels that offer a smooth and easy drinking quality. This makes way for the other flavors to shine through without being overpowered by harsh tannins.
Asti Spumante is well known for its bright acidity that gives it a refreshing finish when sipped slowly on. The acidity also balances out any sweetness in the flavor profile, making it the perfect option for those who prefer their wines as not too sweet.
Most bottles comprise around 7-9.5% ABV making them light enough to enjoy during lunch and dinner without feeling overly heavy or intoxicated afterward.
Asti is an exceptional sparkling wine made with care and attention to detail by some of Italy’s finest winemakers. It has a delicate balance between sweetness, acidity, tannins, and alcohol, making it a great choice for almost any occasion or meal, whether looking for something light and refreshing or something bold within the flavor profile.
A Comprehensive Guide to Prosecco Characteristics
When it comes to sparkling wine, prosecco is a raging popularity. This Italian sparkling white wine is a favorite among many for its smooth taste and refreshing flavor profile. However, what makes prosecco so special? What are the characteristics set it apart from other types of sparkling wines? Let us take a look:
One of the most unique characteristics of prosecco is the aroma. Prosecco fragrances are simply exceptional. Premium bottles of Prosecco comprise fragrances of banana cream, tropical fruits, vanilla, hazelnut, and honeycomb. It’s also known for having a strong aroma that can fill a room quickly.
The prosecco’s body can range from light to medium-bodied, according to the type and style. Speaking generally, Brut styles tend to be more full-bodied than Extra Dry styles and have higher alcohol levels. As far as sweetness goes, Brut has very little sweetness, while Extra Dry has a slightly sweet aftertaste.
Prosecco contains no tannins as it is not aged in oak barrels like the other wine types. This means that it does not have any bitter or astringent flavors as some other wines do. Instead, its flavor profile is overpowered by fruity notes such as citrus and stone fruits.
Prosecco comprises high acidity levels due to the grapes used in production being predominantly high-acid varieties like Glera and Pinot Grigio. It is acidity helps to balance out the sweetness of the wine and adds complexity to the final product.
The alcohol content in prosecco typically ranges between 11% – 13%, making it slightly lower in alcohol than most wines but still enough to give you a high if you drink too much! It is the low alcohol content that explains why this bubbly beverage pairs so well with food – it won’t overwhelm your palate or overpower your meal as some other stronger alcoholic beverages available globally.
Serving Scenarios: When to Choose Asti Spumante or Prosecco?
Asti Spumante: It has to be Summer. As the delicate flavors of soft summer fruit make MARTINI Asti, a wonderful after-dinner treat along with a sweet, indulgent dessert, a creamy zabaglione, a crisp fruit tart, or even a simple bowl of perfectly ripe peaches and apricots.
Prosecco: It is best enjoyed before or after dinner. The perfect time to drink it is before eating – as a sophisticated aperitif or after dinner. This is essential as it can leave a sweet aftertaste like having dessert.
Choosing Your Bubbly: Spumante or Prosecco?
Prosecco is an Italian-made sparkling wine manufactured using Prosecco or Glera grapes. According to the European Union law, the wine should be produced in northeast Italy, traditionally the Veneto region, to be termed Prosecco. This wine usually utilizes the Charmat method to produce a youthful and clean wine. Any vineyard using a minimum of 85% Glera grape can state their wine Prosecco. There are available types of Prosecco. One may notice a bottle labeled “spumante,” which implies it is heavily carbonated, while others are characterized as “frizzante,” meaning it has slightly fewer bubbles. In deciding which one to purchase, the choice is completely based on your taste, event, and season.
Spumante vs. Prosecco: Conclusion
What is the difference between Spumante and prosecco? There is no particular day, occasion, or time to enjoy a glass of ‘Bubbly.’ Sparkle adds a tinge of glamor to any celebration. In both the Presseco and the Spumante, there is wine for any serving and meal. The main difference is the method and the choice of grapes used to prepare any of these two types of Sparkling white wine. However, these remain almost similar in their taste, flavor, and Alcohol content, only differing in their Sugar content. Grab a glass and toast to the joy of life with the bubbly of your choice, as every day is ‘your special celebration.’
Prosecco Vs. Spumante: FAQ's
Question 1. What is the key difference between Spumante and Prosecco?
Answer: Spumante, unlike prosecco, being a white wine, can be easily produced in any area and by using any grape variety. Prosecco, on the other hand, can be produced only in certain specific areas.
Question 2. Are Spumante and Prosecco made from different grape varieties?
Answer: Yes, they are.
Question 3. Can Spumante and Prosecco be considered substitutes for each other?
Answer: No, they cannot be.
Question 4. How to do Spumante's traditional method and Prosecco's Charmat method affect their bubbles?
Answer: The foremost difference between the Traditional and Charmat Methods is the vessel used for secondary fermentation. Traditional Method bubbles undergo secondary fermentation within the bottle. While the Charmat Method comprises secondary fermentation that occurs in a tank.
Question 5. What's the main grape used in Prosecco?
Question 6. Can Spumante and Prosecco be aged?
Answer: They don’t taste great when aged.
Question 7. Are all Prosecco wines extra bubbly?
Answer: No, there are a few varieties that are not bubbly.
Question 8. Is Spumante considered a premium sparkling wine?
Question 9. Which occasions are best suited for Spumante or Prosecco?
Answer: These are best enjoyed for celebrations of any kind.
Question 10. Which occasions are best suited for serving Spumante or Prosecco?
Answer: All celebrations and these can be enjoyed every day.
Question 11. What are some popular Spumante and Prosecco cocktail recipes?
a. Aperol Spritz Ingredients
- Orange slice
- Plenty of ice
Mix three parts Prosecco with two parts Aperol, then complete with a dash of soda and an orange slice to garnish, all served over ice. The Aperol Spritz recipe is not a difficult one to prepare.
b. Bellini ingredients
- Peach purée
Pour 1/3rd of peach purée, then top up the rest with Prosecco, and you are done.
Question 12. Do Spumante and Prosecco have aging potential?
Question 13. Is Spumante sweeter than Prosecco?
Answer: Yes. Spumante is slightly sweeter.