Whispering Italian Sparkle

My devotion to all things sparkling wine is known pretty widely. Personally, I believe that bubbles go with everything, elevate the mood, and might just bring about world peace. And until a few years back my heart belonged completely to champagne, that most famous of sparkling wines of which Dom Perignon decried: “Come quick! I am tasting the stars!” Champagne is still my first love, but I have discovered a whole world of sparkling wine (literally!) outside of France. So I am here to tell you that if champagne spoke Italian, it would unequivocally be Franciacorta.

Franciacorta is a sparkling wine from the province of Brescia produced from the grapes grown within the boundaries of the southern shore of Lake Iseo and the city of Brescia. It is the only wine from the area bearing DOCG designation, a quality assurance label for Italian wines. What that means is that to bear the name of Franciacorta, the wine has to meet pretty rigorous DOCG requirements, thus guaranteeing the consumer a high quality product.

Franciacorta is made in traditional champagne method. Permitted grape varietals are Chardonnay, Pinot Nero & Pinot Bianco, all grown in DOCG designated vineyards within their compact wine growing area. Nonvintage Franciacorta may not be released until at least 25 months after harvest. 18 of those months must be spent in contact with yeast, in a bottle. That is a longer requirement than for champagne (only 15 months). Why am I telling you all this, you ask? Because I like options. I think variety is the spice of life. And I think Franciacorta deserves your attention. With the holidays in not so distant future, maybe your celebrations should speak Italian…

Recently I was invited to enjoy some Franciacorta paired with delicious Italian food. Who am I to say no? Nonnina, a stellar Italian food outpost in the heart of Chicago, the brain child of Chef Tony Priolo (who probably needs no introduction) paired Franciacorta with… well, with everything you can imagine. It is rare to be invited to a wine dinner that serves exclusively sparkling wines, and I was tickled pink. Hosted by the ever so charming and knowledgeable Windy City Wine Guy on behalf of Consorzio per la tutela del Franciacorta, the dinner was full of delicious bites, big personalities and, most importantly, lots of sparkling wine! This was my kind of party!

Without getting caught up in the minutiae of the evening (just trust me, it was spectacular!), let me tell you what Franciacorta was paired with successfully. From seared tuna & white bean toast to fritto misto to prosciutto & arugula pizza… from pasta carbonara to seafood risotto to salmon to pork chop… Chef Priolo’s accomplished food was paired beautifully with four styles of Franciacota: Satén, Extra Brut, Brut Vintage, and Rosé. It was as if I had died and went to Franciacorta heaven.

Now, I don’t know about you, but in my world there is never a day that isn’t made better by a glass (or a bottle) of good sparkling wine. What can I say? I love my sparkle. But next time, for special or everyday occasion, I may just reach for a bottle Franciacorta and sip like the Italians.  Life is too short not to indulge in a little bubbly. Especially one that whispers in Italian.


Franciacorta dinner took place at Nonnina in River North, 340 N. Clark St. Please, see attached image gallery for photos of Nonnina food.

Franciacorta wines are available throughout Chicagoland at Binny’s, Eataly and select independent wine stores.

The Local Tourist invitation to experience Franciacorta courtesy of Windy City Wine Guy.

Photos by Gourmet Rambler.






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