Why is Prosecco so popular?
In the United States, Prosecco is now a household word. Throughout the world, Prosecco bottles sell at twice the rate of Champagne’s, even during a pandemic. Although the comparison with Champagne, the great sparkling wine of northern France often erroneously used as synonym of sparkling wine, is a common one, it is not immediately obvious why it should be. This story of Prosecco Superiore — sparkling Prosecco grown in two small hilly historic zones of the ancient Venetian Republic’s interior lands — shows them as uniquely Italian sparkling wines, tracing them to those hills at the second half of the 19th century, time of uprisings that would oust Napoleon’s France and the Habsburgs’ Austria and lead to the creation of an Italian nation. Among the many who fought to make an Italy was a pharmaceutical student born four decades after the fall of Venice: local chemist, follower of ardent Italian insurgent Giuseppe Mazzini, Garibaldian soldier, winemaker, writer, inventor, cheerful and optimistic if informal politician Antonio Carpenè, founder of the oldest Prosecco winery and who created these wines’ prototype a century before materials such as stainless steel would finally exist to make them possible.
To tell the science and history of the making of Prosecco Superiore, its roots in Italian languages and cultures and in the lives and sounds of those hills of the Veneto’s upper Marca Trevigiana long celebrated as sites of the top Prosecco vineyards, this book is written in a style that leads readers to unfamiliar places so that they might move richly and daringly through 150 years of Prosecco’s landscape. The story moves through Carpenè’s days and follows his work into the mid-20th century as modern Prosecco began its rise, then into the 21st as farmers and scientists work Prosecco Superiore’s culture of hills and ingenuity into new blends of complexity, technology, and artisanship. Built on intensive and, as appropriate to wine, wide-ranging research, this story is both an imaginative and personal telling of the histories, methods, and places of Prosecco Superiore and a reader’s guide to wonder and wandering, acts well suited to both the enjoyment and the effects of Italy’s most important sparkling wines.
Susan H. Gordon has been writing about wine for several years, with certifications and studies at the highest levels of the Wine and Spirit Education Trust and as an Italian Wine Ambassador of Italy’s international wine trade Vinitaly program. In 2022 she earned her PhD with her studies on the history, cultures, and technologies of the two Prosecco Superiore zones. The MFA in fiction she earned from The New School has been the basis of her ongoing writing experimentation and worries about language, as she thinks and reads in both Italian and American English and writes in the latter while working to resist its attempts to overtake the former. As a writer concerned with both wine and how words shape and unshape worldviews and abilities to see and know, she is well placed to write her way through the story of Italian land, nation, and technology that is Prosecco Superiore. In May 2020, her wine and language–concerned “What a Little Hilltop in Abruzzo Can Tell Us About Words for Place” was published in Gastronomica (University of California Press). She is a regular contributor to Forbes’ online platform where she writes about Italian wine. Since 2018 she has also covered the wines of the eastern United States for Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book (Mitchell Beazley).