BY VITTORIO VETTORI | It’s that time of the year again, the time to pop the cork on traditional sparkling wines and look at the myriad ”bollicine,” “perlage,” rising vivaciously and generously from the bottom of the flute glass in a harmonious concert, singing joy, beauty, hope and peace.
We have grown to drink, or expect to drink champagne at festivities. After all champagne is the classic sparkling wine which everyone admires and loves. But of course champagne is also pricey: the process of producing champagne, which is strictly from France, around the mountains of Reims, North of Paris, is meticulous and lengthy. However, there are many well-made champagne-like sparkling wines from all over the world that are admirable and affordable.
The Prosecco is certainly a shining ‘star’ in the firmament of sparkling wines, and it is not only admirable and affordable, it is also “simpatico,” nice. This wine has been seducing the Italian and non-Italian palate for ages.
Prosecco, produced with Glera grapes, comes from northeastern Italy’s Veneto and Friuli regions, and is not just a wine for special occasions. It is also enjoyed casually at the beginning of a meal, sometimes with simple snacks during the day, and often in the evening before going to sleep.
It took this Italian bubbly to make sparkling wine an everyday refreshing drink.
Prosecco always gets the greatest share of attention. Throughout the world the finest restaurants offer arriving guests a glass of Prosecco, as an elegant gesture of hospitality. In Venice, Prosecco is often mixed with peach nectar, a classic Venetian cocktail called “Bellini.” And then we have the various “spritz,” Prosecco and Aperol for example.
This wine is truly “simpatico”: it is delicious, it is fun to drink, it is soft, lively and versatile. It fits today’s lifestyle of casual elegance.
Another Italian sparkling wine star is the Asti, notably known as Asti Spumante. It is produced with fragrant Moscato grapes in the steep sun-drenched hills in the southern part of Italy’s Piemonte region. Asti has a spectacular aromatic expression and is one of the favorite Italian sparkling wines to be enjoyed at Christmas with the traditional “panettone.”
And, dulcis in fundo – the best for last – Rosa Regale Brachetto D’Acqui: a unique and special sparkling wine from the Piemonte region, home of Italy’s most regal wines. It displays hints of strawberries and raspberries and a gentle crisp vein of acidity that entice the palate with initial softness, graduating to a clean, dry seductive finish.
Author Bruno Donati writes:”The Brachetto D’Acqui is a family heirloom that was widely appreciated in the 19th century, but then, inexplicably, as the result of those shift in taste and habit, it was tucked away.” I am glad it was rediscovered. This is a wine of ancient delight. According to legend, the history of this wine began in the epoch of the Roman Empire. Some Latin historians have commented on a sweet and aromatic wine – vinum acquaense – that was much appreciated by the patricians of Rome – Julius Caesar! It has been said that Caesar presented a jar of this ‘nectar wine’ – Brachetto – to Queen Cleopatra and she fell madly in love with him.
Rosa Regale is today very much alive, sought after, loved and enjoyed by millions, myself included.
Buon Natale e Buon Anno a tutti.