Italian Fizz

Try Prosecco to ring in 2004

Ready to toast the top of the season? Try Prosecco. An Italian sparkling wine named for the grape from which it is made, Prosecco has been gaining popularity in the U.S. thanks to its crisp taste, versatility, and relatively low price.

Prosecco is designated still, frizzante (lightly sparkling), and spumante (full sparkling). The wine hails from a small area in northeast Italy known as Conegliano-Valdobbiadene, about 35 miles north of Venice. Within this region, grapes grown in the microclimate of Cartizze carry the highest distinction and price (up to $35 a bottle).

Prosecco is light, dry to semi-dry, and usually does not carry a vintage. It is best drunk within a year or two of its release. Michael Bonadies, a partner at Myriad Restaurant Group, which carries Prosecco at its restaurants, including Nobu and Montrachet in New York, singles out Mionetto Frizzante ($13). Other Proseccos sold in the U.S. include Zardetto and Nino Franco, typically run $9 to $20 a bottle.

Don't save Prosecco for special occasions. At that price and a low 10% to 11% alcohol content, it can go from business lunch to cocktail party.

By Amy Cortese

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