The two wine words most associated with Italian sparkling wine are Frizzante and Spumante.
Frizzante and spumante are both sparkling wines, but they differ in terms of effervescence, or the amount and strength of the bubbles. Wines labelled ‘frizzante’ are only lightly sparkling, whereas wines labeled ‘spumante’ have more fizz.
EU regulations state:
At 20˚C, the pressure in Frizzante wines ranges between 1 and 2.5 bars. By law, they are classified and taxed as still wines and are defined as semi-sparkling.
Spumante wines must have a minimum of 3 bars of pressure at 20˚C. The minimum pressure for quality sparkling wine, such as one with a PDO or DOC, is 3.5. The majority of fully sparkling wines, such as champagne, crémant, or sekt, are sold at a pressure of 5 to 6 atmospheres.
Frizzante wines are referred to as ‘Perlant’ in France and ‘Perlwein’ in Germany.
Although Prosecco is the most well-known frizzante wine style, Prosecco wines can also be made fully sparkling (spumante).
How is Frizzante made?
A winemaker can influence the amount of fizz in a sparkling wine in two ways: the winemaking method and the amount of sugar added during the second fermentation or tirage stage. This, in turn, will affect the amount of sugar converted into alcohol by the yeasts, a process in which carbon dioxide is released and trapped inside the wine, resulting in those delightful bubbles.
In the case of carbonation, all they have to do is regulate the amount of gas dissolved in the wine.
Frizzante wines are typically the result of a second fermentation in tank (also called the charmat method). Most Prosecco wines are made in this manner, and by stopping fermentation before all of the sugar is converted into alcohol, a less fizzy and slightly sweet wine can be produced. Instead of a second fermentation, a’refermentation’ can occur, which is effectively the completion of the first alcoholic fermentation previously arrested (usually by cooling the liquid) to trap the carbon dioxide during the process’s conclusion.