What is Prosecco? All Your Questions Answered

Last Updated on September 20, 2023 by jofitzsimons

Got a question about Prosecco? I’m here to answer it. From the basics of what is Prosecco wine and the difference between Prosecco and Champagne to the best Prosecco brands and how to serve Prosecco, in this guide I’ve set out have everything you want to know about Prosecco (but didn’t want to ask).

What makes me an expert on Prosecco? I am a native Brit who runs Prosecco tours in the Prosecco region of Northern Italy (1 hour from Venice). I have a qualification in wine and have tasted more types of brands and styles of Prosecco than I can count – my job often has me tasting Prosecco for breakfast. I know, tough gig, right? But it means I know a lot about Prosecco. So, let’s jump in to this sparkling wine.

What is Prosecco?

Prosecco is a sparkling white wine from Italy.

Technically Prosecco can also be ‘flat’ with little to no bubbles, known as tranquilo, or frizzante with some bubbles, but the most well known and commonly available Prosecco is a fully-sparkling wine.

Is Prosecco wine?

Prosecco is a type of Italian wine. Wine is basically an alcoholic drink made from fermented grape juice. That applies whether the grapes are red or white or whether bubbles form during the process of turning the grapes into wine.

Is Prosecco Champagne?

No, Prosecco isn’t champagne. Why not? Who said so? All good questions. Let me try to answer them.

Lots of wines, including sparkling wines, are protected. Usually they are protected based on the region where they’re made. Champagne is a good example of this. Only sparkling wine from the Champagne region of France can legally be called Champagne.

Compare it to a cake (I like cake comparisons). You could use exactly the same ingredients (grapes) and make it in exactly the same way (recipe) but if you make the cake in Italy instead of France, you can’t call it a French cake. Did that make it clearer? Or did it just make you want to eat cake?

Europe is full of these ‘designations of protected origins’ whether for wines like Champagne or Prosecco. But also for food. For example, Parma ham must be from Parma in Italy. The aim is to help you know you’re getting the real deal from the right location (would it really taste like Parma ham if it was made by some Brit in Yorkshire? Probably not).

What’s the difference between Prosecco and Champagne?

I’m not going to get too technicals in describing the difference between Prosecco and Champagne. Instead, here’s the highlights:

  • they’re from different locations: Champagne is from France, Prosecco is from Italy;
  • they use different grape varieties: Champagne uses Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Prosecco used the Glera grape;
  • they use different methods for getting the bubbles into the sparkling wine. Champagne adds the yeast into the bottles (known and the Traditional Method), Prosecco adds it into the tanks and bottles it afterwards.

Is Prosecco as good as Champagne?

Prosecco and Champagne are pretty interesting to compare because they are similar and different at the same time. Coming back to our cake example, Prosecco and Champagne are both sparkling wines (cakes). However, they have slightly different ingredients (types of grapes that go into them) and they are made slightly differently (recipe).

For most people, the end results are the same – delicious sparkling wine that tastes especially wonderful around 6 p.m. on a Friday evening. For that reason I’d say whether Prosecco is as good as Champagne is down to personal preference.

Why is Prosecco cheaper than Champagne?

Remember I mentioned one of the key differences between Prosecco and Champagne is the production method, Champagne bubbles are added into each individual bottle while for Prosecco it’s done in tanks and then bottled. Simply, Champagne production takes more work, those man and woman hours add into to the cost of Champagne.

There is also a question of reputation. Champagne has been on the international sparkling wine scene for much longer than Prosecco. It’s well known, has very established brands and like any designer product, it can charge a premium.

If you’re trying to decide whether to buy Prosecco or Champagne, maybe for a special occasion like a wedding where you’re likely buying lots of bottles, I’d recommend doing a taste test – can you really taste the difference? And is serving a premium brand Champagne really worth the cost to you?

Prosecco wine tasting in Italy. By the way: these are the correct glasses for drinking Prosecco, not flutes!

What are Prosecco grapes?

The main Prosecco grapes are glera grapes and Prosecco must contain at least 85% of glera grapes for it to be classified as Prosecco. A bunch (pun: intended) of other grapes can be blended with the Glera grape including some familiar names like Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio but these non-Glera grapes can’t make up more than 15% of the blend. If they do, it’s not Prosecco.

Why, then, isn’t it called Glera instead of Prosecco? That’s one of the things with wine that makes it so confusing to us normal people – in some cases, the wine is named after the grape e.g. Chardonnay. In some cases it’s named after the wine region e.g. Champagne. This is a system that’s grown up over time and isn’t likely to be changed any time soon.

What is the meaning of Prosecco?

It’s the name of the original region where the Prosecco wine was made, near Trieste. However, if you’re thinking of going wine tasting, don’t head to Trieste. The main production of Prosecco is no longer there. And I have more details about Italy’s Prosecco region here.

Is Prosecco sweet?

What about the taste of Prosecco? Many people ask: is Prosecco sweet? The good news is that Prosecco can be as sweet or dry as you want it to be. Back to my cake example (tired of it yet?)…very simply, whether Prosecco tastes sweet depends on how much sugar is added during the production process.

If you’ve ever opened a bottle of Prosecco and found it too dry or sweet for your taste, chances are you just grabbed something off the shelf without really knowing what you were looking for. Let me decode the system for you because it is confusing. Mostly because in Italy they use the word dry to refer to sweeter Prosecco wines.

Extra Brut – perfect if you want a very dry Prosecco.

Brut – This is just a bit sweeter than extra brut.

Extra Dry –  This is where it starts to get confusing – this is sweeter than the bruts. However, Extra Dry is a good all-rounder and most people wouldn’t consider this too sweet (I prefer Extra Brut and have been pleasantly surprised with many Extra Dry Prosecco).

Dry – This is the most confusing because ‘Dry’ Prosecco is the sweetest Prosecco you can buy. If you like sweet sparkling wine, this is the one for you. Otherwise, steer clear.

This is also a new Prosecco on the streets – zero, which has no sugar in it. It’s ultra brut so it might be too much even if you enjoy Extra Brut.

That picture above – that’s Italy’s beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site Prosecco region, in case you didn’t know how beautiful it is. 

Where is Prosecco from?

Prosecco is from Italy, specifically the Veneto and Friuli regions. However, if you want to drink good Prosecco or even the best Prosecco, you need to know a bit more.

What is good Prosecco?

First off, I’m not a wine snob so if you like a particular type, then that’s the best Prosecco wine as far as I’m concerned.

However, if you want to know what the experts think, there is a system for classifying how good a particular Prosecco is. The classification is based on how the grapes are grown, where they’re grown, the production process etc. DOCG, DOC and ITG are wine classifications that exist throughout Italy and apply to all kinds of wine produced in the country from red wines like lanti to whites like Pinot Grigio to our favourite sparkling wine, Prosecco. Their main purpose is to highlight wines of a particular and superior quality.

The classification is:

ITG (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) – this is reserved for wines that may not meet all of the standards of a DOC or DOCG wine but are nevertheless considered to be very good quality.

DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) – these wines have to meet strict standards to earn their DOC label. Most of the Prosecco from the Veneto and Friuli regions of Italy are DOC and are definitely good Prosecco.

DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) – the standards are higher for DOCG wines and therefore the quality is much better. DOCG Prosecco comes from a much smaller region within Veneto-Fruili known between the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene and is known locally as Prosecco Superiore DOCG.

If you want more details than just what to check for on the Prosecco label, you can read more in our article on How To Choose The Best Prosecco – 10 Top Tips.

What is the best Prosecco?

You’d think there’d be a long debate about what is the best Prosecco but it’s long been decided – it’s Cartizze. In the same way DOCG Prosecco is better than DOC because of the location and a bunch of other criteria, Cartizze is better than DOCG. Well, technically Cartizze is DOCG – it’s just a smaller part of the DOCG production area that has the most superior grape growing conditions.

Cartizze has, therefore, long been declared the best Prosecco.

What are the best Prosecco brands?

The best Prosecco brands is definitely open to hot debate. My answer is based on years of visiting the Prosecco region in Italy, tasting at many wineries and watching the Prosecco production process in action. For me, the best Prosecco brands are typically the brands that come from smaller wineries and are most likely found in specialist wine shops or online compared to in the big supermarkets or stores.

If you want to know the best Prosecco brands (according to me), check out my list of the best Prosecco wineries.

How long does Prosecco last?

In my house, not very long. Ok, bad joke. Moving swiftly on…

A lot of people ask does Prosecco go off and the sad answer is yes. Prosecco is a young wine that doesn’t like to be aged. So, unlike wines that age well and enjoy a vintage, Prosecco does go off.

How long does Prosecco last? As a general rule, in the bottle, unopened, it’s recommended that you drink Prosecco within one year of buying it.

How long does Prosecco last once it has been opened will depend on how it’s been stored. Inside the bottle, using a proper sparkling wine stopper in the bottle, you should get a couple of days out of your Prosecco. Open one night and drink the rest the next (or even the day after if you don’t mind a small drop in fizz levels).

By the way, if you do tend to keep Prosecco overnight, you definitely should get a proper sparkling wine stopper. They’re not very expensive. You can pick one up on Amazon here. 

What does Prosecco taste like?

If you’re googling ‘what does Prosecco taste like’ you’re a probably a complete stranger to Prosecco. Let me introduce you (in a way that will make most wine fanatics want to scream down the house): Prosecco is a white sparkling wine and tastes very similar to Champagne. However, because Prosecco is widely available with different styles from very sweet to very dry, you can very easily find a style you like.

The best way to find out what Prosecco tastes like it to design your own at home wine tasting party. Just don’t give yourself a hangover. If you do, here are some hangover cures and the best hangover foods.

Should Prosecco be chilled?

Prosecco should absolutely be chilled. Thing about a can of Coke picked off a warm supermarket shelf – doesn’t taste so good, does it? The bubbles are big and gassy and fill you up to the point you can’t enjoy your drink. Same with Prosecco. it should always be served chilled. The ideal temperature is around 6-7°C (around 41-44 Fahrenheit).

How do you store Prosecco?

Prosecco should be stored for up to a year in a cool, dry place, around 10-12°C (50-54 Fahrenheit). Don’t leave it in the fridge for more than a few days. It risks drying out the cork, which can turn your bubbles bad. Boo! There is a lot of complication on the internet because Prosecco ideally shouldn’t be stored in the fridge for longer than a few days, but should then be chilled before opening.

How do you serve Prosecco?

Pop your Prosecco in the fridge a few hours before you plan to drink it and it should be perfectly chilled. Serve it as you would champagne, on its own i.e. don’t add ice to it (it will kill the bubbles and the flavour). It’s a different matter if you’re serving it in a cocktail, but that’s another topic. I’ve got 12 Prosecco cocktails for you to make at home, if you’re interested.

What food does Prosecco pair with?

Most people serve Prosecco as an aperitivo (a before dinner drink) but choose the right Prosecco and it pairs well with so many types of foods from pizza to fish and chips to Thai food. You can even find good Prosecco to pair with Italian desserts. Otherwise, enjoy it with a classic Italian cheese.

What glass should you use for Prosecco?

Most people don’t realise that Prosecco (and Champagne for that matter) is best enjoyed out of a large wine glass rather than a flute. This allows the aromas of the sparkling wine to breathe, enhancing the taste. Yes, I have just given you permission to upgrade the size of your Prosecco glass. And on that note, go forth and raise a glass.

How many carbs in Prosecco & is Prosecco keto

You can probably tell from my endless cake references that I don’t personally count carbs. However, I have a friend who dabbles in keto so I have some awareness of this.

How many carbs in Prosecco will vary pretty a lot depending on the Prosecco sweetness. Therefore ‘is Prosecco keto’ will depend on what you drink. See above.

To keep it simple, the least amount of carbs will be found in Brut zero. If you can’t get hold of that, your next best bet it Extra Brut. If you’re really focused on this, check the winery’s website where you should be able to check the sugar levels in each bottle. You can see an example here (one of my favourite Prosecco brands, btw) – click on the technical sheet.

Don’t care about carbs and keto? Ty a delicious breakfast Prosecco mimosa with some divine Italian pastries at your next Sunday brunch.

How many calories in Prosecco?

We’ve all seen that picture about the banana versus Prosecco, right? Well, it’s pretty close to true. Again, how many calories in Prosecco will depend on the Prosecco you choose – a very sweet Prosecco is going to contain more than a Brut Zero or Extra Brut. However, you can be pretty safe in picking up a glass of Prosecco on your diet because one glass (125ml) contains an average of 90 calories.

Not that I’m suggesting you do it (please drink responsibily and all that) but if you want to know how many calories in a bottle of Prosecco, the answer is around 700 calories.

What about Prosecco from a tap?

First of all if you have a tap dispensing sparkling wine in your kitchen, I salute you (and can I come round?). But I was actually talking about the kind of Prosecco taps you see at festivals or in Prosecco vans.

They usually look all cute and dreamy and they look great on Instagram. However, killer of all the fun here, it’s also not Prosecco. Why? That same ‘Prosecco must be from a bottle’ rule.

But seriously, don’t let me spoil your fun – go and have a glass of tap-poured fizz and get your IG on. Even better, visit the Prosecco region and you can find a Prosecco vending machine vending full-sized Prosecco bottles.

Oh, you can find me on Intagram posting all things Prosecco.

What about Prosecco in a can?

On the one hand, if your picnic basket includes Prosecco in a can, go forth, picnic and enjoy. However, without wanting to rain on your parade…or picnic, Prosecco in a can is NOT Prosecco.

Wait? What? I know. But remember the sections about what is good Prosecco and the protections in place to ensure you get the best quality, there are some rules about Prosecco and one of them says that Prosecco can only be Prosecco if it is bottled. Sorry. But you came her for the truth, right?

What is Prosecco in a can? Most likely just your bog-standard, low-quality sparkling wine. Possibly from Italy. Possibly not.

And there you have it, from what is Prosecco right through to how to serve Prosecco, I hope hope I’ve answered all of your questions about this divine Italian sparkling wine. If you still have Prosecco wine questions, let me know in the comments below. 

Want more Prosecco? Check out our Prosecco guides

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14 thoughts on “What is Prosecco? All Your Questions Answered”

  1. Thank you for your very thorough explanation. Informative and fun, I now feel I have a good grasp of what Prosecco is and is not.

  2. Hi there, I’ve drunk Prosecco for 3 years. The last 2 times I’ve drunk it I get burning pain in chest and feel really sick. Any ideas why? Thank you.

    • Yikes! Sue, I’m afraid I don’t know the answer because I’ve not heard of this before (unless it’s heart burn?). I’d definitely ask your GP! Hope you get to the bottom of the cause.

  3. I have to try a bottle after reading this informative article. Nice job and I also want to take a trip to visit world heritage site you showed a pic of. Probably never gonna happen but we must continue to dream.

    • Never say never, Jennifer! Get yourselves a travel fund savings jar and start there. You’re allowed to dip into it for your first bottle of Prosecco 🙂

  4. I really love the presentation of information and the visual format. I work in a restaurant and am refreshing mental notes on sparkling wines for Valentine’s Day weekend. I found your page because I am specifically trying to find the answer to this – Are all sparkling wines from Italy called Prosecco?

    Also – that cake analogy is PERFECT and is a definite keeper!

    • Thanks Cheryl and glad you like the cake analogy! And no, not all Italian sparkling wines are Prosecco – only those that match the criteria i.e. are made from the glera grape.

  5. I can’t find a prosecco I like. I’m the same way with Italian pinot grigio, so I’m thinking it’s a dislike of the grape. I like all kinds of wine – red, rose, white – ranging from medium to extra-dry, and I adore most champagnes. But as for prosecco, I just can’t get past the taste, and I’ve tried maybe 12 varieties ranging from the cheapest up to the most expensive I could find. Guess it’s personal preference. I mean, I can tolerate it as a cocktail component but not by itself.

    • Hi Victoria, taste is a very personal thing so it may be you don’t like the grape. I’d suggest trying different ‘types’ of Prosecco, not just focusing on price. E.g. if you’ve only ever had Brut but at different price points, perhaps try an Extra Dry or Extra Brut. Otherwise, cocktails is always a good option!


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