Wines & Spines kicks off in Italy

May 23rd, 2012 Jayne Pearce

After a bit of a break and a leap from Belize to California, I have started the wine and book comb night again - but this time it’s called Wines & Spines. This being our first get together, we did not come armed with a book to discuss. We, however, had no trouble providing suggested titles that were pulled randomly out of the wine bucket. Our next W&S book will be Scandalous Women by Elizabeth Kerri Mahon. She also has a blog.


Hopefully I will be able to write more about this book at the next W&S get together. What I do know is it is a non fictional piece of work documenting the lives (and loves) of women in history who have dared to defy the conventional roles of women at that time - think Warrior Queens such as Boudica; Wild women of the West such as Calamity Jane and Amazing Adventuresses such as Emelia Earhart. This is powerful stuff. What with that and the somewhat seductive front cover, I think it will make for an informative and exciting book club choice.

Anyway, back to Italy. While choosing our next book I wanted to showcase some wines from what some giddy geographers refer to as the arm-pit of Italy. This is no reference to the quality of the wines, more the location up in the NE of Italy in the region of Veneto.

The first wine was a very pleasant Prosecco (La Castella $12.99; Bevmo) which is a frizzante meaning slightly sparkling. By its very nature it is an approachable sparkler that the Italians feel more than happy to add peach juice to and create a tasty Bellini. I love Prosecco because of its genteel adaptability and relatively high levels of quality. This particular style was showing a nutty elegance that was fresh and citrusy on the nose and palate. It worked very well with the almonds too.

The second wine was a Soave (Albino Armani Soave Incontro $11.99; Bevmo) which is a region more to the south west to Prosecco (see map) but still within the airy grasps of Veneto. When I first tasted this wine, I wasn’t sure whether it was a little faulty but think it was the distinctive nature of the indigenous Garganega and some added Trebbiano grapes coming through. It has a forward grapey nose and a savoury bitter almond and lemon combo on the palate that fortunately does not linger.  I paired this curious wine with some  roasted sliced Crimini mushrooms topped with mozzarella and thyme as well as some Gorgonzola and Italian truffle cheese.

The final sampler was a Valpolicella (Masi Valpolicella Classico 2008 $13.99; Bevmo) which, as a region, is located next door to Soave. I have traditionally loved this wine not least because I have yet to taste a bad one but also because it is so lovingly approachable. If you’re seeking something slightly different that doesn’t pack too much of an alcoholic punch (12%); marries well with a wide range of foods as well as a fruity aperitif, then this might just be the one. The mostly Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara grapes produce a red fruit and cherry infusion of balance showing subtle tannins and good acidity to help wash down those tomato and basil bruschettas. Now it’s time to digest the amorous antics of Cleopatra, Anne Boleyn and other fascinating women within our history books.

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