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Venice, Italy (July, 2011)

On my recent European excursion the first stop in Italy was the magical city of Venice.  In a city full of fine dining and extensive wine lists, it was fun to try many different wines from the Veneto region, in which Venice is located.   The wines of Soave, Valpolicella and Amarone poured freely.  Well, freely may not be the accurate word, as Venice is a very expensive city!

The wine highlight for me in Venice was Prosecco.  I found myself ordering a glass of Prosecco on many occasions: while my husband was having a beer at an outdoor café, before most meals, while listening to the dueling orchestras in Piazza San Marco, and sometimes instead of lunch!  The most important Italian phrase I learned was:  “Vorrei un bicchiere di Prosecco per favore!”

For those of you who don’t know, Prosecco is a spumante, principally made from the prosecco grape.  It is usually not made in the Methode Champenoise, but by the Charmat process, where the second fermentation is done in a pressurized tank rather than in the bottle.  That’s one of the reasons that one can find some nice Prosecco without a huge price tag.  In all of the restaurants and cafes I visited, Prosecco is not served in a Champagne flute, but in a Bordeaux style wine glass.

The ultimate Prosecco experience was visiting Harry’s Bar in Venice for their world famous Bellini.  This was a must visit for me and I wasn’t disappointed.  We sat at the bar where we could get a great view of our bartender concocting the famous drink, which was created at Harry’s Bar by it’s founder Giuseppe Cipriani sometime between 1934 and 1948.  The Bellini is one part freshly pureed white peach juice and three parts Prosecco.  The drink was just what the doctor ordered for a hot summer day in Venice.  It was served in a 7-ounce glass for a whopping 15 Euro each, so if you’re on a tight budget, plan on ordering just one!

Most locals undoubtedly avoid the expensive tourist spots and head to little wine shops around Venice where they buy their daily table wine.  We ran across such a place by simply watching.  We spotted a woman walk into a shop with some empty 2-liter water bottles, so we followed her inside.  We watched as the man in charge filled her bottles with the wine she chose and off she went after paying a small sum.  We were curious.  We asked if they have any bottles to buy and sure enough, he produced an empty water bottle.  We had him fill it with a local wine, and the total price was 3 Euro.  The wine wasn’t half bad, either!


Next Up:  Visiting a Winery in Soave


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