Discover more from Ab Ovo
The Pink Bubbly Edition
Get ready to drink a full metric sh*t ton of Prosecco rosé this summer
Ab Ovo is a twice-weekly newsletter produced by Clay Dillow (CD) and Tim McKirdy (TM). If you enjoy our work, we’d love to have you as a subscriber (it’s free!). If you already subscribe, we appreciate the support — and don’t forget to forward this to a friend. Thanks for reading.
It’s not particularly difficult to divine what drives our beverage decisions during the warm weather months. Summer is a thirsty season, and we gravitate toward drinks that are cold, crisp, fizzy, and light-bodied, with at least a hint of fruit or citrus. We also tend to seek out products with some kind of cultural currency — the things that go over well when poured out at a backyard barbecue or shared among friends on a patio. It’s no coincidence that spring and summer have, in recent years, given us both The Great White Claw Shortage of 2019 and #roséallday.
It’s impossible for us to say whether Prosecco producers in northeastern Italy were thinking about all of this when, several years ago, they started pressing for a legally recognized rosé expression of their sparkling white wine. They certainly couldn’t have foreseen the COVID-19 pandemic and our long, shared year of socially-distanced stay-at-home-ism. But what’s important is that Prosecco DOC rosé is here, it was built for this moment, and summer 2021 is going to be absolutely awash in it.
That’s something to look forward to, because the dozen or so bottles we’ve managed to obtain here at AOHQ have all performed admirably. But more to the point, this Italian pink bubbly is going to become a part of your summer whether you like it or not, given the perfect storm swirling around its arrival on US shores. It’s brand new, inexpensive, bubbly, photogenic, served cold, teeming with crisp fruit and citrus notes, and has “rosé” in the name. You can bet against it, but you’ll be swimming against the currents of history.
Forget for a moment that this product was purpose built for both summertime consumption and American consumers already struck dumb by rosé fever. It’s the sheer serendipitous timing of its arrival that’s going to make Prosecco rosé pop this summer. Everything that was bad for us in 2020 is good for launching an affordable pink sparkler in the spring of 2021, and after a long pandemic winter of isolation and distance, Americans are emerging into an increasingly-vaccinated spring. We’re going to gather, celebrate, and bask in the sunshine of this bright new post-pandemic (kind of) reality, and we’re still going to do most of this socializing outdoors, where sparkling rosés do their best work.
But the place where pink Prosecco and the pandemic find their strongest synergy is cost. A lot of bottles of very decent Prosecco rosé are right now hitting retail shelves at less than $20. And it’s a fair bet that as (indoor and outdoor) dining becomes more of a regular thing again, the fundamental economics of keeping bar will push these wines onto a lot of by-the-glass menus. When you want a single glass of something bubbly and there’s but one sensible bubbly option on the BTG menu, you’re likely going to find some Prosecco rosé in your hand without even thinking about it.
Perhaps more consequentially, consumers that spent much of the last year consuming wine at home at retail prices will likely experience some degree of sticker shock when returning to restaurant wine menus that offer those same wines at a 3X markup. Being a wholly new product, Prosecco rosé doesn’t offer any baseline for that kind of comparison. To the consumer, it will simply be cold, fizzy, pink, and competitively priced.
This would all be irrelevant if the product itself was no good, but it is — and that wasn’t necessarily a given. The northeastern corner of Italy that produces these wines stretches across nine provinces in the Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia regions, and there’s a lot of variation in the wines produced there. Sub-zones within the DOC like Valdobbiadene and the hyper-focused Cartizze produce remarkable wines from those areas’ steep, rocky hillsides (we’re personally partial to anything by Bisol). There’s also a good deal of mass market Prosecco sourced from the flat plains that dominate huge swathes of the region, which are easier to harvest mechanically (producing huge yields) but can often produce wines that prove — how should we say? — “sub-optimal.”
But from what we’ve seen so far, the Prosecco DOC rosés hitting U.S. store shelves are solid summertime bottles at a great value, and they’re going to sell. You may not think this is the summer of pink Prosecco, but the tens of millions of bottles coming across the Atlantic say otherwise. A few worth trying (all of which retail between $12 and $17):
Val D’Oca Prosecco DOC Rosé Extra Dry Millesimato 2019 All of rosé’s greatest hits in one glass: strawberry, honeydew, white flowers, and a little white pepper on the back end. If you’re looking for an entry point to Prosecco DOC rosé, this will do nicely.
Valdo ‘Marca Oro’ Prosecco DOC Rosé Brut 2019 A somewhat fuller, rounder structure set this apart from the others we sampled. Pour at sundown next to a pre-dinner snack.
La Gioiosa Prosecco DOC Rosé Brut Millesimato 2020 Perhaps the most interesting of the bunch, this La Gioiosa escapes the more typical red berry/white flower profile and leads with more stone fruit and tropical notes. There’s a pomegranate thing going here that really works. —CD
The 100-Word Endorsement
Everyone’s going completely bonkers over spicy chili crisp at the moment, and for good reason. We’ve all been eating at home a lot more, and simple hacks that can elevate the texture and flavor of virtually anything on the table feel more necessary than ever. I personally didn’t realize just how necessary until I came across Holy Tshili Spicy Everything Chili Oil, which is exactly what it sounds like: A blend of Chinese chili crisp and toasted everything bagel seed in chili oil. You can put it on absolutely everything, and it will take your chili crisp journey in entirely new directions. —CD