The Most Romantic Grape in Italy
“wine warms the blood, adds luster to the eyes . . . wine and love have ever been allies” from The Art of Love, Ovid 17AD
Although the traditional color of Valentine’s Day is red, I’m thinking more about the amber-colored golden reflection of a wine made from the most romantic grape in Italy.
Wine by its very nature is romantic. A glass of wine is enjoyed with all our senses. We swirl and sniff the aromas in the glass and slowly savor the wine as it passes our lips. Deep and aromatic , bright and fresh, the taste either dry and astringent or silky on the palate, much like love. It’s made by people who are passionate about what they do and enjoyed by friends and lovers in the most convivial or intimate of ways. Pour a glass of wine and love is in the air either for the enjoyment of the wine itself, the food it elevates and pairs with, the company you share it with or the memories it recalls.
There are many Italian wines that come to mind for Valentine’s Day. A deep, rich Brunello or Amarone. A meditative Vin Santo, a bubbly Prosecco or sparkling rose scented Brachetto d’acqui are always on my list and I find it difficult to choose but always come back to Malvasia Passato. I was introduced to this wine by my friend Rita at Ristoranti Don Ferdinando in Castell’Arquato, an Orange Flag Touring Club Italiano City One of the most evocative and romantic towns in Italy it is a medieval gem located in the Val D’Arda near the town of Piacenza, in Emilia-Romagna. Malvasia is a sweet passato wine (wine made from dried grapes) that dates back at least to the Renaissance. The name "Malvasia" has distant origins linked to a medieval and early Renaissance Byzantine fortress on the coast of Greece where the Venetians established a trading post in the 1400’s.
There are many Malvasia wines but I am smitten by the highly aromatic passato wine Colli Piacentini Malvasia. Amber-colored with golden reflections and flavors and aromas of ripe apricots, caramel, dried figs, honey, almond and vanilla. The romance of Renaissance grapes ripening off in golden bunches on the hills of Parma and Piacenza. A romantic exhibition of grapes drying in lofts, Malvasia is a vino de meditazione (wine of meditation).
A selective romantic when paired with food, it is best served with ciambella ring cakes, cream cakes, biscotti, fruit tarts and Gorgonzola. All perfect for an Italian inspired Valentine's Day.
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