Monday, 20 August 2007

A whine about wine

Forget the belting women, forget the cars, forget the wonderful food and the glorious sunshine, the overriding joy of Italy is the price of wine. The stuff I buy for everyday drinking costs bugger all and it's good kit. Me and car-dealer Bruno make a weekend of it in the Veneto region and go and see our mate Tony who is a winemaker without too many frills; the wine matures in great big concrete cylinders in his farmyard, it's delivered in wicker-bound demijohns (56 litres each and I bought three this year) and we bottle it here. But...but. Last week included the Italian equivalent of the August Bank Holiday and we had loads of people up, eating and boozing over three days. Come Saturday evening and the thing I wanted more than anything was (a) a liver transplant and (b) anything but another bottle of wine. So I reached up to my special shelf and took down a precious bottle of St Peter's Old Style Stout, got out my favourite Peddy glass and necked it. Good, toasty English stout, absolutely delicious, and so drinkable. Unfortunately I only had one bottle so after that it was back to Tony's (excellent) Sauvignon Bianco. Thank you St Peter, nice ale, nice bottles too.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

A Sunday not for the faint-hearted

Well, it all started innocently enough at around 11 o'clock on Sunday morning. Some friends rang and said they'd like to come up for some sunbathing, and would it be OK if they brought a roast chicken and a couple of bottles of wine? They left at just before 2 o'clock the next morning and although the sun had beaten down all day, there was no sunbathing done. The bottle count was:

1 litre Italian rose (decanted from a box)

1 btl Prosecco

2 btls Verdicchio

1 btl Claret

1 btl Barbera (150cl)

1 btl Moscato

1 btl Raboso

1 btl Sauvignon Bianco

1 btl Muller Thurgau

1 btl Merlot

The grappa bottle also made its customary appearance at around midnight.
Bottles are all 75cl except where stated.

The list above is not in order of consumption, but in bottle bank order.
And there were four of us in total.

Thursday, 2 August 2007

An Aperitivo

The aperitivo is extremely important in Italy. It's a drink you have before you eat, but breakfast is usually excluded. The range is vast and I hope to take your hand over the forthcoming months and daintily lead you through the minefield of booze that is on offer as a pre-luncheon/dinner kick-starter at bars in Italy. Today I had to go to the Big Town By The Sea. I found an old bar and piled in to a Campari Soda. It's a ready-made drink in a charming conical baby bottle. Order one in England and you'd get beaten to a pulp. Pleasantly sour and a good kick. Just the one (with company) and then off to lunch with a shedload of fish, a litre of house white and (because it's Italy) they brought a bottle of grappa to the table with the coffee. Gave that a bit of a caning. Fan-sodding-tastic. The picture shows my Campari on its way. Nice moustache, but he should be wearing a tie the bleeding scruff.