Tag Archives: champagne

Names, Places, and a Little Pink Lie

A rosé by any other name…..

Blinded by my enthusiasm for a new way to pleasantly pollute Prosecco, (http://wp.me/pfkhI-2Z), I overlooked one little detail.  Prosecco can’t be pink. Or, can it be?

Names and definitions are no small matter in Europe, especially when tied to food, wine and their place of origin. With some justification. Just as the best parma ham is from Parma, as is the best Parmesan, you would expect the same with wines. The French spend a lot of time, money and political clout assuring that cognac and armagnac come from the regions that bear their name, and Champagne from any other place is not Champagne.

Through the Wine Glass

The Prosecco can get even more picky. Prosecco must be made from the prosecco grape varietal (with maximum 10% exception for three local varietals) and vinification, bottling and the sparkling process must all be carried out in only a few DOC towns.

In my defense, most of those criteria were satisfied. The producer, Val d’Oca (www.valdoca.com) is famous for its Prosecco. And, the Punto Rosa we drank Saturday night is a great wine to serve with a meal –– from start to finish. Paola and Carlo made sure it was flowing from the antipasto of abruzzese pecorino cheese with a selection of flavored honeys (green apple and lemon), all the way through to the little balls of fried dough filled with zabaglione (a pudding made with Marsala). Its perlage – persistent little bubbles – and slightly floral bouquet, never fought with the food on our plates.

So, I’m sorry I called it prosecco, but not that sorry. I realized my mistake looking at the label at dinner on Saturday, but the sense of guilt sliped away with every sip of Punto Rosa.


What a spread!

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Places, habits, memories

There’s a colleague I’ve been meaning to call for a while. Diego’s agency developed the visual image and promotional materials for Vinalia, an intimate restaurant with an amazing wine cellar and tasting bar that was just near Palazzo Margherita in the heart of l’Aquila. I had a lot of favorite places to eat and drink in L’Aquila, and Vinalia was where I went when I wanted something intimate, elegant and refined (and was in the mood to pay for it). Marzia Buzzanca, Vinalia’s mind, heart and soul was somehow able to transmit her rich knowledge of wine and her attention to detail, but also make you feel at ease and somehow in control. Of course she was playing with a stacked deck. It was all good. And the nights where dinners were combined with wine tastings guided by representatives of some of most renown winemakers in Italy and France became relaxed sumptuous dinner parties among friends.
I still have one of the last messages she sent out to Vinalia’s followers:

“All the bottles in the wine cellar are now on sale. Please look at the website. If you are interested please write me with what you want and where to send it now.
Please pass this on.
A big Hug”

When I started this blog, I started out with a brief piece on Vinalia, finishing with a promise to write again about what Marzia and her people were able to do. Now I have to work from blurry memory.
When I lived in Venice as a student twenty years ago I first began to feel that cities were far more than the sum of their streets and buildings and the people animating them. What counted was how you would interact with the people and places there – and your relationship with the city itself.
It’s not a question of not being able to go for wine in Vinalia or Il Bar Garibaldi or Fenice or Ju Boss, or go for an espresso at Caffé Polar or the Frattelli Nurzia. Or no longer being able to have a last minute neapolitan pizza at Bella Napoli for Friday lunch with my girls, or sneak a slice at one of a dozen different places around town, or even just reading the shared newspaper at the bar in Piazza San Pietro in front of Silvia’s university office.
The people behind what made these and other places so enjoyable are still alive and that’s what counts most. Many have already reopened bars and eateries elsewhere in town. When something this big and bad happens you discover that rebuilding your life comes naturally.
But what what was part of my life and thousands of others is gone. Thirty seconds was all it took to transform one of Italy’s lesser known but more beautiful historic centers, a place where tens of thousands of people would live, work, shop, study or just hang out with friends, into a vast, mostly inactive, construction site.
But I think my youngest daughter Emily was more eloquent. At the beginning of this Summer when she was saying goodbye to her cousin who had come to visit us at the hotel that housed and cared for us in Montesilvano. “Your are so lucky that you can go back to your everyday and habits”