Saturday, December 5, 2020


Photo: Payal Vora

In December the Italian Food Wine Travel folks are exploring the sparkling wines of Italy in An Exploration of Italian Sparkling Wines for the Holidays hosted by Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Cam. Read her invitation post to find out more. Fraciacorta, Prosecco, Lambrusco, they're all going to be there! So see what everyone's poured and paired below, and join us on Twitter under #ItalianFWT at 8 AM PST on 5 December to tell us your thoughts!

Susannah Gold of Avvinare, who is a Vinitaly International Italian Wine Ambassador, generously provided two Prosecco samples for review.

Photo: Payal Vora
Prosecco is a wine dear to me... it brings back memories of family summer holidays in Europe, of parties at university where Prosecco was often the affordable sparkling wine of choice, of summer in Treviso a few years ago. Little else is more perfect for a sweltering Italian summer than cold Prosecco and good company. A few years ago I had grant money I needed to finish up before I moved on to my next project and an architect friend in Munich happened to be free that summer so we drove over and explored every corner of Treviso. We stayed in agriturismos everywhere and every afternoon just when we got back to relax before dinner the staff would greet guests with a complimentary bottle of Prosecco... per room. Between Rolle, Conegliano, Asolo, Cison di Valmarino, and every other village in Treviso, we had a glorious summer full of photography, buildings, art, fashion, food, espresso, and all manner of Prosecco.

Prosecco is arguably the most well-known Italian sparkling wine in the US although it ought to be more popular - it is light, bright, crisp, great with food, and a perfect porch sipper. Made in the Veneto region in NE Italy primarily from the native grape Glera (85% min. in a blend), although only the sparkling type is most known in the US, there are three types of Prosecco: tranquillo (still), frizzante (lightly sparkling), and spumante (sparkling). The Treviso province in Veneto has the perfect climate and soil types for the higher-acid Glera grapes which are well-suited for dry sparkling wines. The best Prosecco comes from the steep hillsides but even the wine from the plains is perfect for casual drinking. As such, Prosecco is classified as Denominazione d’Origine Controllata (DOC) and Denominazione d’Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG). Prosecco DOC is a broader, less stringent category and the DOCG is stricter and the wines are from specific areas of Veneto, and supposedly better quality.
Read more about all things Prosecco and the region's recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (since 2019) here.

The Val d’Oca co-operative founded in 1952 is one of the oldest producers of Prosecco. Their sparkling wines are made from Glera grapes cultivated and vinified in the hillsides of Valdobbiadene. Val d’Oca produces Prosecco Superiore DOCG from the hills of Valdobbiadene and Prosecco DOC from the greater Treviso province. The winery has always had a forward looking approach and their recent efforts include a sustainability budget that follows the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030.

Clusters of Glera grapes (Payal Vora)
Val d'Oca Prosecco
11% ABV | SRP $13
85% Glera, 15% Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay

Lemon, fine bubbles

Citrus, ripe peach, green apple, white flowers

Similar to nose: A bright citrusy opening leads into juicy peach, apricot, and green apple with fragrant white flowers bordered by a slight mineral edge. A very crisp balanced wine with juicy acidity, medium body, medium+ finish. This Prosecco would be terrific on its own as an aperitif, paired with a slew of foods, or in a cocktail. Best now or within 2 years but not meant for prolonged cellaring.

Most meals at our house are lively affairs but in 2020 I think we've been celebrating even more than usual as a way of encouraging the year to just end already! I suspect that we'll continue this throughout December so we can charge on with real life where exciting things happen and where we freely hug and mingle with humans in all corners of the world and where if we get sick we have treatment options. I.e. real life in our real world with boundaries beyond home. And so, on this evening dinner was a bottle of Val d'Oca Prosecco paired with the first course, entrée, and main, and for dessert we had a silky cognac flip with a sprinkle of freshly grated nutmeg.

Photo: Payal Vora
: We eased into our evening with parmesan-black pepper biscotti and a pour of the Val d'Oca Prosecco. We usually have this biscotti with champagne and it's a superb pairing, so it was a bit of an obvious choice for Prosecco. The biscotti was delicious and so was the Prosecco, but together they were anything but. Something about the combination of the biscotti and Prosecco resulted in a most unappetising metallic taste. A combination to be repeated NEVER AGAIN.

ENTRÉE: We got past that pairing fiasco and moved on to the thing we were eagerly awaiting: East Coast oysters. Briny, meaty, and perfect for any dry sparkling wine, especially this Val d'Oca Prosecco. We had Cotuit, Blue Point, and Wellfleet oysters with a squeeze of lemon. They were all terrific with the Prosecco but the Blue Points, the briniest of the lot, were exceptional with the fine bubbles and citrusy mineral notes in the wine.

Photo: Payal Vora
: We had chimichurri-topped halibut on dressing with bread, celery, etc. and sage-laced roasted butternut squash with cranberries. 
I usually pair wine to the flavours of the dish rather than a single meat or vegetable and the rounded acidity (red wine vinegar FTW!), hint of herbaceousness, and the savouriness of garlic in the chimichurri were such a lovely complement to the bright notes of the Prosecco. The mild sweetness of the butternut squash and the tart-sweet cranberries we equally delicious with the wine.

Overall it was a splendid meal and I would absolutely recommend pairing Val d'Oca Prosecco with any course, not just the beginning of your meal. It offers such an excellent QPR that I would extend this pairing to a large dinner party, not just intimate gatherings. You can count on the Val d'Oca Prosecco being offered at our first garden party of 2021 when we reacquaint with real life! I'll take the liberty of speaking for all of us and say: We Cannot Wait!


  1. We definitely can not wait for this shelter-in-place YEAR to be over. Sorry about the initial pairing fiasco (it's odd when that happens) and glad that the rest were successful. Thanks for joining the fun this month.

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  3. What a glorious trip to Treviso. Thank you for sharing that story.

    I will admit that my mouth was watering with your biscotti description, I am sad that it was not a perfect pairing (I'll just have to break out a bottle of Champagne to try that with!)

    I, like you, am so looking forward to a time when we can all "freely hug" again. I am a hugger and this year has been tough. Here's to a farewell to 2020. I will be greatful when it is "hindsight"!

  4. Your food looks amazing! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Have really enjoyed Val d'Oca Prosecco in the past, and your pairings look delicious and perfect for this wine.

  6. All of these pairings look delicious, and I have to say I am in love with the idea of parmesan-black pepper biscotti!

  7. What a lovely post with so many great pairings and the variety of foods you tried with the wine. I love the story about your summer in Treviso too, how wonderful. Happy New Year and good riddance to 2020.