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Spumante, sparkling, prosecco, frizzante: what they are and how they differ

Spumante, sparkling, prosecco, frizzante: what they are and how they differ

Spumante, prosecco, sparkling wine, frizzante… Are these all the same things? Actually, no! Here is a quick guide that will break it down for you.

Spumante is an Italian word that literally means “a wine that makes foam” (“spumare” is to foam), so technically it is a synonym of any sparkling wine.

Spumante vs sparkling wine

However, the term “spumante” is most frequently used for a quality sparkling wine. 

According to the EU Regulation CE 479/08, a sparkling wine shall be the product that is obtained by first or second alcoholic fermentation, which, when the container is opened, releases carbon dioxide derived exclusively from fermentation, and which has an excess pressure of not less than 3 bar when kept at a temperature of 20 degrees Celsius in closed containers. Moreover, the total alcoholic strength of the cuvées intended for the preparation of sparkling wine shall not be less than 8,5 % vol.

A quality sparkling wine, the same European Council document says, has an excess pressure of not less than 3,5 bar and the total alcoholic strength not be less than 9 % vol.

So, let’s recap: spumante can be a synonym for both categories of wine described above but is mostly used for the second one.

Bubbles in spumante wines are the result of the second fermentation process, or the so-called "presa di spuma". When the second fermentation takes place directly in the bottle, the production method is called Classic, or Champenoise. If, on the other hand, the second fermentation is carried out in steel vats, the wine is produced with the Martinotti-Charmat (or just Charmat) method.

Spumante vs frizzante

Sparkling wines of lower quality, which have a carbon dioxide pressure of not more than 2,5 bar and an actual alcoholic strength of not less than 7 % vol., are called frizzante (or sometimes vivace) in Italy, or semi-sparkling in English.

Simply speaking, sparkling wines have more bubbles than semi-sparkling, which is why their bottles are usually thicker and heavier, and their corks always have the shape of a mushroom and a special metal wire holding them. In contrast, a bottle of frizzante wine may have a classic corck or an unscrewable one.

Spumante vs prosecco

God save you from confusing spumante and prosecco terms - this one will never be forgiven in wine-lovers circles!

Spumante sparkling wine can be produced in any area and with any grape variety. Prosecco, instead, is a DOC (denominazione di origine controllata, or controlled designation of origin) or DOCG (denominazione di origine controllata e garantita, or controlled and guaranteed designation of origin) wine that can only be produced in certain areas of the Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia, from Glera, Verdiso, Pinot bianco, Pinot grigio or Pinot noir grapes and only with the Martinotti-Charmat method. As simple as that.

It should be noted, however, that most prosecco wines are quality sparkling wines, i.e. spumante wines.

Like any sparkling wine, prosecco varies according to its residual sugar level: from Brut Nature being the least sweet, and then, in ascending order, Extra Brut, Brut, Extra Dry, Dry, and Demi-Sec versions.

Did you know

Did you know that prosecco is not necessarily a sparkling wine? It can also be frizzante (semi-sparkling) or even still!

And what about Anticelebration wines?

Anticelebration wines are produced solely with the Classic Method (Champenoise), so you can call them quality sparkling or spumante, but not frizzante. One of the criteria for selecting our cuvées is aging on the lees for at least 36 months. Another distinctive feature of Anticelebration cuvée collection is the minimum sugar content in the wine, i.e. dosaggio zero (brut nature).

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