The news that Prosecco outsold Champagne—307 million bottles worldwide compared with 304 million—may flabbergast some fizz fans, but it’s really no surprise. Prosecco is as hot as a cold, sparkling white wine can be, with sales in 2013 up more than 24 percent over 2012.
That 307 million stat, by the way, came from OVSE, an Italian wine “observatory” (essentially an industry research group, though you have to like the idea of white-coated scientists spending their time watching bottles of Prosecco through massive mountaintop telescopes), so perhaps one should take it with a grain of salt. Regardless, it’s hard to argue with Prosecco’s overall appeal.
Prosecco is made in Italy’s Friuli and Veneto regions from the native Glera grape (up to 15 percent of other varieties are allowed). It gets its fizz in a slightly different way than Champagne does—basically, the wine is sealed in a large metal tank and a second fermentation is induced (in Champagne, that happens in the bottle). With both, though, it’s the trapped carbon dioxide from the fermentation that provides the wine’s effervescence. Proseccos tend to show fresh, lively apple-citrus flavors. In general they’re bottled without a vintage designation, and they’re almost always affordable. Complexity or ageability isn’t the point here. Prosecco’s more a jubilant sort of drink, inexpensive enough (usually) that you can buy it on a whim, and fun enough to pour for anyone who happens to come by.