Friday 18 June 2021 11:30 am

Rosé Prosecco: Why this once-banned drink was the star of 2020

I think we can all agree that 2020 had few highlights but let me put this forward as a big hitter… Pink Prosecco. Yes, you heard correctly, rosé Prosecco was only legalised in 2020 which means last year marks the first harvest and creation of an entirely new type of wine. History was made and to be a part of it all you need to do is enjoy a glass of pink fizz in the sunshine. 

Prosecco is a sparkling wine, made mainly in the region of Veneto in Italy and, unlike Champagne or Cava which use the “traditional method” to create the bubbles, Prosecco uses the “tank method”. In the “traditional method” the second fermentation (which creates the bubbles) happens in a closed bottle so when the yeast dies the wine remains in contact with it giving it those yeasty, toasty, bready notes. Whereas the “tank method” happens in a pressurised tank, where the yeast is filtered out, meaning the floral fruitiness of the wine is dominant. That is an important fact to remember as, in general, you do not want to be waxing lyrical at a dinner party about the brioche notes in your Prosecco. There won’t be any. 

Up until now Prosecco has only been allowed to be made from the Glera grape, a semi-aromatic variety and another reason the “tank method” is favoured. The yeasty notes which work so well with the Champagne grapes (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier) could easily overpower the more delicate fruity, floral flavours of Glera. 

However, after years of lobbying by the wine industry, in May 2020 the Italian government officially permitted Pinot Noir to be added to the sparkling Glera-based wine and it has been whole-heartedly embraced, not only by the wine industry but by the consumers as well. The Pinot Noir adding a delicate pink colour and those red berry rosé flavours that just scream summer. 

“Combining the most popular sparkling wine in the world with increasingly fashionable rosé has created a match made in heaven,” says Andrew Shaw of Marks & Spencer. “The Prosecco Consorzio resisted the inclusion of rosé wines for over 20 years until finally conceding in 2020 – and our customers have certainly celebrated its arrival! With its soft, red berry fruit and gentle bubbles, sales have been exceptional from the moment we launched; currently one in every three bottles of Prosecco sold at M&S is rosé, and we are fortunate enough to partner with some of the best wineries in the region who are leading the way with this exciting new expression.”

Rosé Prosecco

There are some legal stipulations to adhere to. Pinot Noir can only make up to 10-15 per cent of the wine and the wine must spend at least 60 days in a pressurised tank for its second fermentation. Pinot Noir can be a tricky grape to grow and you may notice a small price increase compared to your usual Prosecco, but this elegant option is breathing new life not only into Prosecco but into our choice of rosé as well. 

“We’ve seen the Prosecco trend go from strength to strength in the UK and as a nation we drink more Prosecco than any other in the world. Last year saw the introduction of pink Prosecco to the UK and sales at Waitrose are up 69 per cent in the last eight weeks. It’s no secret that we love a pink tipple and this year to date we’ve seen Champagne rosé up 66 per cent and sparkling rosé up 52 per cent” says Alexandra Mawson, Wine Buyer for Waitrose.

So, what are the key things to look out for on the label when buying your rosé Prosecco?

  • With any Italian wine the label DOC or DOCG means the winemaker has had to follow the rules of the designated area and the wines are likely to be of higher quality, with DOCG being the highest level. Currently rosé Prosecco’s highest level is DOC (but maybe DOCG will embrace it in time). 
  • Legally every rosé Prosecco should have “millesimato” printed on the bottle. This essentially means “vintage”, which is the year the grapes were harvested and means at least 85 per cent of the grapes come from that year, ensuring quality. Right now, you will only see 2020 as it is the first year this wine has existed.
  • How dry do you like your sparkling wine? Rosé Prosecco currently comes in three styles. Brut Nature or Brut Zero which is bone-dry with only 0-3 grams of sugar per litre. Brut, which is dry and the UK’s most popular style of sparkling. Extra Dry or Extra Sec which is, confusingly, slightly sweeter and tastes medium-dry. Currently there is no sweet rosé Prosecco allowed. 

Nothing says relaxed summer drinking like a crowd-pleasing sparkling rosé and with this brand-new version Prosecco is aiming to keep it elegant, just make sure you serve it well chilled between 6-10 degrees Celsius. Be a part of Wine History and grab a flute for some floral, fruity fun. 

Rosé Proseccos for Right Now: 

La Gioiosa Prosecco Rosé Millesimato Brut

Fragrant and fruity with light strawberries, pomegranate and some freshly tart lemon this elegantly easy-drinking, joyful wine is an absolute high-street winner for around £11 from Waitrose, Sainsburys and Majestic.

Marks & Spencer Prosecco Rosé Brut

This effervescent rosé looks like rose quartz in a glass and is light on the palate with pleasingly delicate notes of subtle strawberries, peaches and roses and nectarine. A perfectly refreshing wine to sip in the sun. 

The Emissary Rosé Brut

A lovely looking bottle with its sophisticated label, this Prosecco from a single-vineyard, family-run estate has flavours of red berries, apples and pears accompanied by vibrantly lively bubbles. 

Conte Priuli Prosecco Rose Oro Extra Dry

Stepping it up in the style stakes this metallic bottle brings the bling! It is also Extra Dry so has a slightly softer side with a touch more residual sugar, but this is still light summertime drinking with refined floral notes of roses and apple blossom.  

Ita Prosecco Rosé, Extra Dry

Bursting with fruity peach, apricot and strawberry this medium-dry rosé also carries slight hints of sweet vanilla. Smooth drinking with lively bubbles, this is an inherently and elegantly quaffable bottle. 

Libby Zietsman-Brodie is the Founder of Bacchus & Brodie, an independent wine consultant and co-creator and presenter of Boozy & The Beast: How To Drink Better – an irreverent series on wine, without the snobbery. Instagram: @a_little_sip_of_me_time @boozybeastTV