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By The Glass


Italy’s prosecco
adds sparkle to
appetizers and pupus

Antipasti, appetizers and pupus are welcome starts to your great meal. But what wine is the most versatile for these tasty beginnings? Champagne? Crisp whites? Getting close, but not quite on the mark. The answer I've been promoting for years is prosecco -- the light sparkling wine from Italy's Veneto region.

Unlike champagne, which develops its bubbles within the bottle, prosecco is bottled directly from large pressure-resistant tanks that retain the wine's effervescence following its secondary fermentation process. While the bubbles may not be as fine as with champagne, the sparkling quality of prosecco is still immensely enjoyable. As awareness and acceptance of this spumante has grown, a sophisticated transformation of style has evolved.

Within the last five years, prosecco producers have moved toward a crisper, fruit-driven style with less residual sugar than was customary. The lighter, less heady nature, along with prosecco's clean, dry style moves it into the highest category of aperitif wines. It is certainly one of the finest beverages to enjoy with sushi.

For a fun remedy to a long, hot day, throw a bottle of uncorked prosecco in the freezer for 15 minutes, then treat yourself to most delightful brain-freeze slush you've ever had.

One of the best reasons to try prosecco is its outstanding value, with prices from $9 to $15. You can realistically bathe in these bubbles!

Nino Franco Rustico: This was one of the standout surprises at a recent gala dinner. Truly nonrustic, this bubbly shows fine, pinpoint bubbles that deliver delightful aromas of green apple and lemon, which carry through to the palate along with a creamy mouthfeel. Nino Franco pairs superbly with crispy fried seafood dishes such as calamari or shrimp.

Bisol: The clean, sleek and refined nature shows the elegance that prosecco has gained. This fine-bubbled beauty has light lemon and citrus flavors with a hint of almond. Try Bisol with maguro sashimi as an alternative to your favorite sake.

Zardetto: This fruit bomb is ideal for making frozen prosecco slush. White peach and green-apple flavors with clouds of bubbles compel you to enjoy another glass. Zardetto's fun and exuberant nature is the cure for these sweltering, Indian summer days.

Col de Salici Extra Dry: Unlike the French designation of extra dry (slightly sweet), extra dry here means exactly that -- arid dry! Lemony and tart apple flavors finish with sharp acidity and a dry, dry finish. Very sophisticated in its delivery, this is the ultimate beverage to pair with hamachi nigiri sushi.

Lyle Fujioka owns Fujioka’s Wine Merchants.

This column is a weekly lesson in wine
pairing written by a rotating panel of wine professionals.
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