Frizzante: What does the designation really mean when it comes to Prosecco?

The meaning of the designation frizzante is relatively simple.

After reading the umpteenth misinformed blog post on the different categories of Prosecco, published by a major America masthead today, I feel compelled to write about the meaning of the word frizzante when it comes to its use as a designation for sparkling wine. (I won’t reveal the name of the online magazine but suffice it to say, if you speak and read English, you know it.)

In America today, we tend to parse the meanings of words we read on wine labels and overly analyze them, often missing the forest for the trees as it were. When it comes to the differences between spumante and frizzante, this tends to be the case more often than not. And the confusion is made even greater by the fact that Prosecco producers often “re-classify” their wines for reasons that have nothing to do with the wine contained in the bottle.

In Italy’s current labeling regulations, wines that are labeled spumante have to have a minimum pressure of 3 bars. Wines that are labeled frizzante have to have a minimum pressure of 1 bar (although they generally have more).

That’s what the terms mean, plain and simple. They don’t reflect the quality of the wine or the price. They just denote the minimum level of pressure in the wine. That’s it.

Frizzante comes from the Italian frizzare, which literally means to prick. Spumante comes from the Italian spumare, which literally means to foam. And that’s a great way to understand the difference. Spumante doesn’t denote higher quality or a more important category of wine. It simply denotes a wine that probably (not necessarily) has a creamier fizziness to it.

In some cases, Prosecco producers re-classify their wines from spumante to frizzante because they want to avoid import taxes or they want to avoid consortium restrictions.

Most wine lovers won’t even notice the difference between the two designations at all.

In another era, before the evolved winemaking technology that we have at our disposal today, it was more challenging for winemakers to achieve the pressure they desired. Today, the pressure depends merely on the wine that the winemaker wants to produce.

Not need to read into either of these labels. It’s just a matter of pressure in the bottle. That’s it.

Jeremy Parzen
Bele Casel blogger

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Author: Bele Casel

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