Lately I’ve been in countless restaurants that start pouring prosecco when I ask for a glass of Champagne. I like good prosecco. But offering prosecco in place of Champagne is like suggesting a tofu patty to someone who wants a hamburger. Prosecco and Champagne are not even remotely the same thing.
Which is why I wish restaurants didn’t see one as a substitute for the other. Prosecco and Champagne not only come from come from vastly different places with completely different soils and climates, they are also made from wildly different-tasting grapes—prosecco from the glera grape and Champagne, of course, from chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot meunier.
But the big difference in flavor comes from how they are made. Most prosecco is not made by a many-year’s-long second fermentation in bottle as is Champagne. It’s made much more quickly in giant pressurized tanks. Translation: prosecco is cheaper. It should be. It’s easier and faster to make. It also, of course, tastes less expensive. That’s not a crime, just the reality.
It’s one thing to be in northern Italy sitting in a café and drinking a lovely, cool, simple prosecco. That’s terrific.
But being in a restaurant in New York or Los Angeles or Chicago and being poured prosecco because the restaurant thinks it can get away with giving anyone who wants Champagne a glass of prosecco instead…. That drives me crazy.
And it’s certainly disingenuous; maybe even a little “dishonest.”
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