On the food side, Treviso is pleasingly bitter radicchio. On the wine side, Treviso is refreshingly fruity prosecco. Treviso is a gateway to the Dolomites (and ski areas like Cortina d’Ampezzo), but it is also just a short excursion from Venice, which is why prosecco is the house wine of the Venetians. Although most people look at prosecco as some generic category of sparkling wine, it is, in fact, a very geographically specific product.
Prosecco production is largely confined to two hillside villages just north of Treviso, Valdobbiadene and Conegliano. Although the prosecco grape may have originated in neighboring Friuli-Venezia Giulia, it has found its home in the steep slopes of these two neighboring towns, which of course lend their names to the DOC (typically you will see prosecco labeled as Prosecco di Valdobbiadene or Prosecco di Conegliano, depending on where the grapes come from).
Although there are some exceptional prosecco-based sparklers sourced from a tiny, 250-acre subzone called Cartizze, in general prosecco wines are not as dry or structured as Champagnes. Proseccos are made in the “tank method,” wherein the second fermentation of the wine (the one that creates the bubbles) is done in a large pressurized vat. This creates a wine with a softer edge in comparison with those made in the “methode Champenoise” (Champagne method), wherein the secondary fermentation is carried out in the bottle.
Whereas Champagnes (and other sparkling wines made like Champagnes) are a little deeper and dryer, the appeal of prosecco lies in its lightness and brightness. Its softer mousse and slightly lower alcohol relative to Champagne makes it the ultimate aperitif, and its slight whiff of peach and faint fruity sweetness gives it flexibility with food – at Babbo, I’ll even serve a prosecco with peach- or other fruit-based desserts, because at times I find full-on “sweet” wines to be too cloying with many sweet desserts.
Most people drink prosecco somewhat dismissively, and while I’m not going to make a case for prosecco as a rival to Champagne, I do think that there are many excellent proseccos that at the very least make refined, well-structured aperitifs. At their best they can come pretty darn close to the Frenchies, and one thing is certain – the price is always right.
My top prosecco labels (although Brut is the driest style, I often prefer the slightly sweeter Extra Dry styles, which, despite their name, are actually a little rounder and sweeter):