Out of the mouth of wives…

Out of the mouths of wives often come illuminating thoughts.

Last night, out of Vinho Verde for our before-dinner drink, I asked my wife if she would like a Prosecco instead.


I ran downstairs and found the remaining Prosecco (Zardetto) in our cellar.

Although it is not the Prosecco that has pleased me most, I like Zardetto’s version of the bubbly. No matter. This blog entry is not about Prosecco that pleases, although to get to my point I do have to tell you how we felt about the Zardetto.

I was preparing duck seared breast with a maple/soy/wine/garlic/onion sauce, with rice and olives on the side.

There’s some preparation to the sauce and also to the duck, which I rub with soy/garlic and white pepper and then coat with a dusting of flour. Sipping the aperitif wine while working is fully in order, and for that purpose, I like the wine to be fresh and lively, with a bite that will tease my appetite.

Prosecco is both the name of a grape and two wine styles produced in the Veneto region of Italy. The wine is either frizzante, a fizzy still wine or it is spumante, a fully sparkling wine.

In either case, the wines are generally light, fruity, a touch sweet, and nicely acidic at the finish. The Zardetto tastes somewhere between a 7-Up and Schweppes Tonic, but on a higher plane; its bubbles seem more gentle than a Charmat sparkling wine process usually throws at you (see the link below).

In short, the Prosecco was exactly what I wanted while cooking—a fine alternative to Vinho Verde.

Somewhere between when I dusted the duck breast with flour and added flour to thicken the sauce that was cooking, my wife came into the kitchen. She pointed at the Zardetto bottle and asked, “Why don’t we have something like this produced in America and at this price?”

The price of a well-made Prosecco is between $13 and $15 a bottle.

It is a good question, to which I have no answer.

Certainly, we have the technology for Charmat wines. They are on our market and for a lot, lot less than $15. But are they as fresh, lively, biting, and pleasing as Prosecco? Not to me.

Admittedly, it’s been a while since I’ve tasted an American Charmat process wine, and that’s because I’ve hated most of them. With bubbles as big and seemingly as damaging as brass marbles, plus the cloying, often limp quality of the wines, I simply gave up trying.

On second thought: why can’t I find an American version of Vinho Verde at $5 that is as pleasing as the Portuguese wine?

I know that everything is costing us more these days, but I also wonder if the general cost of American wine, relative to quality, has been split dangerously into camps. For real money, you get real wine; for small money, you get barely drinkable wine.

Of course, I know the real answer to my wife’s question, but I hate thinking about the part of the domestic wine scene that has to do with supply and demand. It’s too depressing.

Oh, with the duck, we had Cannonau, from Sardegna…it’s Grenache.

Charmat Method

Copyright Thomas Pellechia
September 2008. All rights reserved.

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