One unlikely place the Prosecco trail has taken me is Brazil, where, unlikely as it is, the name Garibaldi is synonymous with Prosecco. Here I am following the footsteps of General Garibaldi in Brazil and here’s Giuseppe Garibaldi himself (dressed to the nines).
Garibaldi, who lends his name to a piazza or boulevard in virtually every Italian city, was the single most important figure in the unification of Italy between 1815 and 1871. Garibaldi’s heyday corresponds with the moment when prosecco was getting seriously good.
Garibaldi is also the name of a municipality in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, the one region of Brazil where serious wine is produced. It’s the home of the most famous Brazillian sparkling wine, Prosecco Garibaldi. The Garibaldis (Giuseppe and his wife Anita) come into the picture because in 1836, exiled from Italy, Garibaldi went to South America where he fought for a separatist republic in southern Brazil in the so-called Ragamuffin War and stayed until 1849. It is in Brazil that he fell in love with Anita his fearsome Brazillian horseriding revolutionary warrior comrade bride. Anita died in Italia in 1849 of Malaria after battling to claim Northern Italy from the Austrian empire (this, of course, included all of the Prosecco growing hills).
Prosecco comes into the story because from the 1870s that area of Brazil was predominantly settled by Venetians who brought their language, the local dialect (a mixture of Venetian and Portuguese) is Talian (think Italian), and winemaking savoir-faire. In 1900 a municipality of Rio Grande do Sul was named Garibaldi and came to be the center of sparkling wine production in Brazil.
Given the unique mix of cultural history, it’s baffling that Italian journalists have written about Prosecco Garibaldi as a “fake. It’s baffling because the connection to Venetian winemaking is very real and in my opinion charming. Against that attitude, it’s fitting that the Brazilian capital of Prosecco was selected as Conegliano’s official twin city. Prosecco Garibaldi is a widely produced wine with a similar annual output to a large Veneto Prosecco house. It’s not worth traveling from Italy to Brazil for a glass of Prosecco Garibaldi. However, since Brazil is worth traveling from Italy for, I would encourage you all to try some!