This faintly grapey, fairly dry, very cold and fizzy Champagne’s more casual, yet quite elegant, Italian cousin gained its popularity being the base for the luscious cocktail Bellini, invented at Harry’s Bar. Prosecco is produced in tanks by a method known as charmat between Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, in the province of Treviso which is about 32 kilometers north of Venice. It’s a refreshing aperitif or prelude to the meals as suggested by many food writers and gourmand and comes in both the spumante or fully sparkling and frizzante or semi-sparkling styles.
Italy’s largest producer of Prosecco is Mionetto, which specializes in the traditional style and makes frizzante with about half the sparkle of Champagne. Mionetto Prosecco costs $10 – 12. It has an appley and bubbly archetype that makes a wonderful companion on warm weather. Best served with Mionetto are antipasti, cold soups, or pasta primavera. The traditional base used in making a Bellini cocktail is Nino Franco Prosecco de Valdobbiadene “Rustico.” It is more-champagne-like and has bit more staying power than most Proseccos. A bottle of this bubbly costs $ 14 – 21.
Best served with the city’s scrumptious fresh seafood dishes, soave comes from the verdant hills of charming town of the same name between the Valle d’Illiasi and Val d’Alpone. “At its best soave is intensely but not cloyingly aromatic, abundantly fruity, and subtly complex,” wrote Colman Andrews in his delightful essay on the wine in Saveur magazine (Issue # 38). It complements best with Venetian dishes like fritto misto de mare and sarde in saor.
The Coffele, one of Soave town’s premier wineries produces Soave Classico, Ca Visco and Recioto di Soave wines from primarily Garganega grapes. These wines are exported in Germany, Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Great Britain, in the USA, Australia, and Hongkong. The Coffele welcomes wine tastings which costs 6 euros per person for three wines and 12 euros when served with cheese. If you’re lucky, the Coffele family may invite you into their garden that sits below Soave’s castle for wine tastings.
Made from the same grapes as Bardolino, this wine “has a ruby, cherry and banana nose, a fresh and dry, fruit flavour and a bitter finish,” wrote Tony Aspler in his bestselling book from Canada Tony Aspler’s wine lover’s companion.
This colorless Italian brandy is made from the grape skins and seeds that are left in the wine press after the juice has been removed to produce wine. Grappa is the most famous or in some instances infamous among the wines of Venice, the clear spirit served at the end of the meal, or mixed with coffee as a caffe corretto. Grappa, as told by Robert Joseph in his definitive book The Wine Travel Guide to the World, was revolutionized by Benito Nonino.
Since then a large number of other wine producers followed his lead and grappas are made from almost every local and international grape.