Whooops somehow I let a whole winter go by without posting anything new! But that might be because I didn’t try much that was new and worth writing about. Looking at my last post, from Feb. 2013, I was still buying that Angel’s Gate stuff most of this past winter as well! And I spent my summer drinking beer.
I’ve recently returned from a trip to Italy on which, as the sole wine drinker, I wasn’t really able to afford to experiment much. In fact, I drank a fair bit of beer then as well – travelling with a beer drinker and trying to determine if any Italian beer is worth trying. (Peroni, available most places, is passably inoffensive; Moretti, available in the rest of them, is kind of not, but you can get Moretti La Rosso in bottles and it’s a tasty enough double malt for a little variety.) Since I didn’t have it in me (or my wallet) to finish a bottle myself at meals, I drank a lot of “house red” and a couple of “house whites” (the reds were usually perfectly-fine-with-food rustic Chianti-type blends, but the whites were the same harsh Chardonnay blends you often get for a house wine here). And from tabacchieri I often ended up with a mini bottle, with only a few brands to choose from. My favourite was Santa Cristina, a very smooth and gulpy Valpolicella-based blend, and we have it here at the LCBO for about $12. I returned to it a couple times as my Old Reliable. Oddly, the Santa Cristina rosé was TERRRRRRIBLE; I bought a bottle of it for our hotel room Florence, because we had a tiny fridge, but it was pretty vile. Which only made me more wary of buying full-size bottles to try!
I was hoping to fill my gullet with lots of Lambrusco and other northern slightly-fizzy summery wines, like the last time I was there; we were spending time in both Florence and Venice, after all, and those areas border on where I was based before. However, the ONLY time I saw a Lambrusco was at the very first restaurant we visited – in Rome! I’m sure if I’d gone into more fancy wine shops I might have found it again. So, I bought a bottle of one of the couple brands we now have here at the LCBO: Chiarli Castelvetro Amabile. It’s… fine? I feel like I remember the ones I had being only about medium-sweet, whereas this is 40g (the other brand is 45, which is why I tried this one first). It also doesn’t have the extremely fruity, tangy flavours I remember – just dully sweet. Which… isn’t great.
While in Venice, I noticed that all the hootenannying yuppie-looking types bandwaggoning into the bars to watch bits of the World Cup were drinking orange cocktails in giant wine glasses – just called a “spritz” and no description of what’s in it anywhere! I had to look it up to learn that the spritz is sort of the go-to Venetian cocktail – lowish alcochol, so you drink them by the handful over an afternoon at the bar, much like you would beer here. Because I was using my bar/restaurant time to get red wine into my system, I wasn’t really tempted till about the last day, when I had a TERRIBLE one: I’d happened to order it at a place that makes it old-school – basically a Campari and soda, which I haaaaate. So, because I am the classiest, I ended up trying another one at the bar near my gate at the airport (blah blah they’d made me RUN for my gate and then the wait was like 1.5 hours), made with Aperol and Prosecco, and it was DELICIOUS.
So, I thought I’d grab a bottle of Aperol and some Prosecco and try them at home – especially with a searingly hot Canada Day approaching, and feeling too lazy to pull together the items for really good Pimm’s or sangria. Sadly, my LCBO didn’t have (doesn’t ever have?) Aperol! I bought the Prosecco anyway and experimented (with great failure.. Grand Marnier does NOT work, and I didn’t have the OJ I thought I had to make plan-B mimosas instead). I suspect perfecting my personal version of the spritz will be my mission for the remainder of the summer, especially if it stays hot.