Zonin Prosecco, fresh take on sparkling wine

I had the best intentions of tasting and recommending Zonin Prosecco for Christmas dinner,  Imagebut here it is mid-January and I have yet to post my thoughts on this most fantastic bubbly. Really, my words will be brief. It’s such a simply perfect sparkling wine that my advice is just to go buy a bottle and enjoy it. Now!

Ok, I suppose I should give you a little more than that. I enjoyed the prosecco with roast turkey, cornbread stuffing and salad on Christmas Eve. And I enjoyed it with the s’mores I had for dessert. I would have enjoyed it again on Christmas Day, but it was gone. You see, this wine goes with simply everything. It is so light and easy to drink that you can pair it with anything – or nothing – and it will shine.

Prosecco is generally dry, and Zonin’s creation certainly is dry, but what sets it apart is that it’s not tart in its lack of sugar. It’s remarkably refreshing and smooth, the perfect presentation of fruit with a nutty note. The bubbles are so delicate, they froth rather than fizz. That’s one of my favorite traits of a good sparkling wine – a buttery froth rather than an explosion of carbonation.

Zonin is Italy’s largest privately held winery, and they have been perfecting the region’s varietals since 1821. This prosecco is a new addition to their lineup of wines, and it’s a wise addition. They manage to present a fresh take on an old wine. It’s the kind of bubbly you can feel proud to serve on a special occasion or just to dress up a weeknight dinner.

The next holiday coming up is Valentine’s Day, and this would be an excellent choice to impress your loved one. It’s an out-of-the-box choice, not your standard Champagne, and not one of the hundreds (thousands?) of California sparkling wines. It’s an Italian classic tastefully rejuvenated by the Zonin family.

There I go, getting wordy when I said I wouldn’t. So go buy it. Now.

* Note: This wine was provided to me by the winery. 


Insolia, my new favorite white varietal

I’m feeling adventurous tonight, so I thought I’d open a wine that I’ve never heard of: Insolia. I thought I knew most varietals, or at least enough to not be surprised when I see something Imageunfamiliar, but I admit that this grape threw me for a loop. I have truly never heard of Insolia. What the hell is it?

Well a quick perusal of Wikipedia tells me it’s an white grape indigenous to Italy, primarily grown in Sicily, and and in Tuscany under the name of Ansonica. There are lots of other names it’s known by, but for our purposes, I’ll stick to Insolia.

I’ve read that it can be light and bright, like a sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio, but the one I’m tasting tonight strikes me more like a mellow chardonnay. The grape is often used in blends to make Marsala, a fortified wine.

This Feudo Principi di Butera — part of the Zonin family of wineries, which is the largest privately owned wine group in Italy — is so gentle I almost don’t want to breathe lest I upset its reverie. Just a touch of tingle on the tongue reminds me that this indeed made from a fruit; every other note is just pure silk. The dry grass with a nutty tone is balanced with a spray of tropical fruits, almost a creamy pineapple. Yes, I know “creamy” and “pineapple” don’t generally go together, but that’s just what this wine makes me think of.

Feudo Principi di Butera ferments its Insolia in steel barrels and allows it to age in the bottle, which likely accounts for the hint of fizz on the palate. What I find interesting is that this wine retains its dry, spry features (thanks to the steel barrels) while somehow achieving the creamy quality common in oak-aged wines. It is not smoky or oaky, but is somehow still smooth and almost buttery without the butter flavor.

Confused yet? Yes, that’s because this is a wine the likes of which you have probably never tasted.


The tasting notes recommend pairing it with vegetable-based soups, pasta dishes, fish soups, shellfish, or white meats. I am craving shrimp lightly sauteed in garlic butter with my glass of Insolia.

It took some Googling to find an average price for this wine in the U.S., but you can find it in the $14 vicinity at various online retailers.