What does “col fondo” mean? How do you translate it?

So many people in Britain and America are talking about Prosecco col fondo these days.

But whenever it comes to translating col fondo into English, there seem to be myriad ways it can be rendered in the world’s de facto lingua franca.

The expression col fondo, which we write as colfòndo on our own label, means literally with the bottom. That’s not the correct translation. But it is the literal meaning.

The word col is actually what is called in grammar an articulated preposition. It is a combination of the preposition con, which means with in Italian, and the definite (masculine) article il, meaning the.

As you can imagine and/or surmise, fondo, from the Latin fundus, means (literally) bottom.

So that’s the literal meaning.

But what’s the best and most correct translation?

Prosecco Col Fondo is a Proescco that’s been aged on its lees. Lees are the dead yeast cells and other solids that form the sediment of wine after fermentation.

In most cases, the lees are filtered out of wine. But in the case of Prosecco Col Fondo, the lees are left in the bottle (look out for a discussion of what Prosecco Col Fondo is and tastes like in our next post).

So while some might prefer to translate the expression col fondo as with its sediment, the best translation of Prosecco col fondo is lees-aged Prosecco.

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