Prosecco is well and truly on its way to overtake Champagne when it comes to the most popular choice of bubbled beverage. A version of sparkling wine hailing from Veneto in Italy, the Champagne region of France has been left quaking in its boots. Just why has prosecco become so popular?
Prosecco is a sparkling wine made from Glera grapes – a variety of Slovenian origin that was brought to the Italian village of Prosecco to grow. It’s thought this variety of grape was even grown in Roman times, giving prosecco some added authority in the quality stakes. The British social historian and travel writer Fynes Moryson is believed to be the first person to mention the drink of prosecco, as reference to drinking ‘prosecho’ was found in his notes after his visit to northern Italy in 1593.
Since then, the prosecco craze has gone from strength to strength, with commentators noting sales started to increase dramatically from around 2008. Supermarkets are continuing to notice unprecedented figures in relation to prosecco sales. Sainsbury’s own-brand prosecco is increasing its sales 40% year on year, while Tesco has noticed a 26% increase in the sale of all the prosecco brands it sells. Lidl saw sales of its own-brand prosecco increase by 79% in a single year. It’s also estimated 150 million bottles of Italian prosecco are produced annually.
Prosecco is noticeably cheaper than Champagne, which of course plays a role in its popularity. Its fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks, making it less expensive to produce than Champagne. However, many wine connoisseurs say that the taste of prosecco has improved in recent years too. With a flavour and price that gives Champagne a run for its money, it’s no wonder prosecco has taken off in such a way.
The Brits in particular have a penchant for prosecco. We’re the biggest drinkers of prosecco, second only to Italians. Drinking bubbles to celebrate seems to be in the British DNA. This tradition dates back hundreds of years, when sparkling wine was drunk at parties hosted by royals and aristocrats across Europe. It’s English technology that started the sparkling wine craze too. As far back as the 1500s, carbon dioxide was used to bottle and cork sparkling wine. Since it was a drink reserved for high flyers back then, it became associated with the celebrations of the wealthy.
As the centuries rolled on, buying a bottle of Champagne to celebrate a special occasion became a ritual. And now, as prosecco has gained in popularity, it’s starting to replace Champagne as a celebratory drink. It’s also becoming the wine of choice to accompany everyday occasions too.
At The Runnymede on Thames, we serve some of our favourite varieties of prosecco. This includes Bellenda Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene, and one of our new favourites – Skinny Prosecco by Thomson & Scott. Skinny Prosecco is low in sugar, vegan and organic. Prosecco seems to be the future of bubbles – now that’s worth raising a glass to!