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Nino Franco in the snow

Heavy on Flavour… Light on the pocketbook

One of the wonderful things about Prosecco is that you don’t have to sacrifice flavour for price. You can pick up a bottle of bubbles for at least half the price of Champagne.  And your friends will even thank you for it!  In our Introduction to Champagne and Sparkling wine speedTASTING, nearly everyone prefers Prosecco. Whilst only half of people preferred Champagne.

If you thought all Prosecco was sweet, think again. Although it is characteristically fruiter than Champagne, it is mainly sold with a dry dosage!  Dosage rhymes with massage, and it a whole ‘nother blog post, so I’ll just leave you with… read the label.  Yep, just one little word will let you in on the bottle’s secret – the sweetness of the wine…. BRUT (means it will be dry!)

At whatever price point, there are two key words to look for on the label to ensure you are buying a quality prosecco:

The code word on the label that you want to be sure to look for is DOCG.  What is this, you ask?  Well, I shall tell you!  DOCG or ‘Controlled Designation of Origin Guaranteed’ is  a quality assurance label.  The DOCG came about after the DOC (‘Designation of Origin’) was considered to be handed out far too liberally.  The main difference between the two (besides price!) is that DOCG-labeled wines are tested by government-licensed personnel, approved, then bottled and stamped with a government number.  What does this mean for consumers?  You’re guaranteed to be getting top-notch quality.

And the third word to seek out is Valdobbiadene.  This is the only region where Prosecco is legally allowed to be made.  It’s just like Cava or Champagne, it now has a ‘trademark’ protecting it’s name.

My favourite recommendation comes from one of Italy’s top producers of this well-known sparkling wine.   Nino Franco, is located in the heart of the Prosecco DOC, has been making wine since 1919. They are considered to be one of the oldest Prosecco producers and  unlike many of their peers, the Franco family owns their own vineyards.  This means that all decisions on viticulture are solely theirs to make: the fruit can be picked, transported and crushed at their own discretion.  A they focus on lower yeilds their Italian competitors, the quality is undeniably higher.  I recently had the pleasure of meeting Anthony Franco, and I must say, is was tastefully charming!  And I look forward to taking him up on the offer to stay at their vineyards, sounds like an excellent Tastour!

 

My top pick for the summer:

Nino Frano Rustico DOC Brut: Start with a scent of white flowers and lemon zest, but fall into the pleasantly complex flavour.  Though a dry bottle, this wine offers tiny bubbles and a green apple taste that lingers on the tongue, making it impossible not to think of summer.  Redolent of white peach, mint and pear, this wonderfully popular wine is one to try!

Price = £18 but on offer for £14 here

The winner of the free magnum is Katie Mineherat, Congrats Katie

 

Clean and fresh... you can drink it by the pint. Photo by Citronodlingen / Lemongarden

What is Extra Virgin Olive Oil?

Olive Oil: Now With Bonus Virgins!

While “extra virgin” is subject to all kinds of interpretation, the process it describes is not. Many mainstream olive oil manufacturers seem to believe that they can interpret the guidelines for what virgin olive oil really is. In fact, there are legitimate standards for what constitutes this.

What is Extra virgin olive oil? It is oil that came from olives that were pressed and packaged. Yes, it really is that simple. The alternative method to pressing involves the use of heat or chemicals to extract the oil. These methods usually result in a less satisfactory oil, which given it’s thick consistancy, unless you have the palate of card board box, it isn’t usually good for much more than use as cooking oil.

Unfortunately, the quick solution to low sales of a substandard product is to market that product as being much better than it really is. Thus, poor-quality olive oil is often branded as “extra virgin” olive oil. This process can be likened to an evil witch caking on the makeup to hide her visually offensive face, whilst trotting around telling any and all who will listen that she “really is beautiful”.  When it comes to food and drink packaging, it’s what on the inside that counts. Don’t be fooled by the makeup… and learn to read the labels.

What is Extra Virgin Olive Oil?

Like wine, the good stuff varies with the terroir of the region and variety used. Some flavours you may recognise are: sundried tomato, grass, artichoke and pepper. Photo by Citronodlingen / Lemongarden

So, how does one find the real extra virgin olive oil? Look for the words “cold pressed”, “PDO”, or “PGI” on the label. In a perfect world, these would indicate that the oil is of a higher quality. However, there aren’t enforced restrictions on the label wording of the packaging. So, ultimately, the truth lies in the taste!

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History of the Olive 101
Those Oily Olives

Olive Oil Press

History of Olives 101

Brush Up On Your Oil Education from the beginning

Olives are more ancient than most ancient civilizations! Use of the olive can be traced back to the Neolithic people, who existed in the 8th century BC. Although the earliest history of the cultivation of the olive tree is hazy, most of the evidence points toward Continue reading

Those Darn Oily Olives

Those Darn Oily Olives

Just left the Olive and travelling to the barrel. Photo by Aroma Cucina

Fat And Olives: A Love Story

Let’s face it: fried food is delicious. That’s a fact of life. The staple of fried food, however, is saturated fat. This kind of fat isn’t easily digested by the body, so it causes horrible horrible damage within you. Are you ready for me to scare you into drinking wheatgrass smoothies till your face turns green? Continue reading

Prosecco – the bare facts

  • A high-quality Italian wine
  • Generally dry and mainly either fully sparkling (spumante) or lightly sparkling (frizzante, gentile)
  • Generally lower in alcohol than most wines: about 11 to 12 percent by volume
  • Unlike Champagne, it’s appreciated for its fresh, light, simple taste and complex aromas
  • Flavour is intensely aromatic and crisp, with hints of yellow apple, pear, white peach and apricot
  • Great as a mix for cocktails
  • The main ingredient in the Bellini cocktail and Spritz cocktail, commonly in a Mimosa, and the Italian cocktail, Sgroppino
  • A less expensive, quality substitute for Champagne
  • Mass world-wide increase in popularity since the late 90’s
  • In Italy, Prosecco is enjoyed as a wine for every occasion. Outside Italy, it is most often drunk as an aperitif, much like Champagne.
  • Produced from the Glera grapes in theProsecco – the bare factsregions in Italy, and traditionally in the hills north of Treviso
  • Is now produced in other countries, such as Brazil, Romania, Argentina and Australia
  • To guard against cheap imitations, an association of traditional Prosecco growers instituted a protected designation of origin status for Northern Italian Prosecco under European law
  • Tastes different to Champagne due to the fact that secondary fermentation takes place in tanks (spumante varient), as opposed to in the bottle
  • Approx. 150 million bottles are produced annually
  • Production amounts to hundreds of millions of Euros annually
  • According to the EU Sweetness of wine Regulations, Proseccos are labeled “Brut” (most dry), “Extra Dry” (medium dry) or “Dry” (most sweet).
  • Unlike Champagne, it grows stale in the bottle over time
  • Should be drunk as young as possible, generally within 3 years of vintage
  • Top-quality Prosecco can be aged for up to seven years

Read more about Prosecco:

Heavy on flavour, light on the pocket book