I’ve been passing an evening thinking about the Italian man and his obsession with women. Older men with younger women, younger men with older women, young men with young women, mature men with mature women. You name the combination; there are scores of Italian men this very moment obsessing on a woman somewhere.
One of the attractions is the sheer pleasure of thinking about this subject. Whenever I talk to my fellow friends, it seems that whatever the age, and whatever their marital status, the conversation eventually heads into woman territory. Maybe the Italians are oversexed or just easily aroused, what does it matter? It just is.
When venturing along the wine trail in Italy, sooner or later, wine runs into women. And vice versa. After all, wine is romantic. Wine is a catalyst for love. Or a lubricant for lust. Maybe that is why wine is so doggone indispensable.
Look at a young couple as they are falling in love. What do they do? They linger over a bottle of wine, or two. Lubricant or catalyst, wine has a place in the course of romance.
What are some of the wines we men see as more effective than hormones? Which are the corks to pop that lead beyond the barrel room to the boudoir? After a scientific polling of a handful of male friends (the committee), here are a few wines that have been very successful in their pursuit of amorous adventures. Mind you, this is research and as such has been carefully compiled and recorded for posterity.
The first step is bubbly. Be it Champagne or Franciacorta, Prosecco or Cava, nothing succeeds faster than bubbles. Our committee has chosen a rosé Franciacorta for the sparkling representative. And while Champagne is ultimately a very classy choice, Franciacorta suggests subtlety and the slow dance to the “chambre”.
Rosé for the light onion skin color, similar to the object of one of the groups’ fascination. Dim lighting, soft music, little or no food (keep the senses alert) and moving the object of affection closer to the web. Not yet time for Rossini, patience. Just a little light chamber music, maybe a twelve string guitar with slow, calm melodies. And let the wine fill the emptiness and prepare the way.
For the second act, my consulting group suggested we move towards red wine, higher in alcohol and a little headier stuff. The dew is off the lily, the excitement of newness is behind us now. And while we must still act like we are interested in romance, are we not men? We want one thing. Always. One way or another. Or so the women always tell us. Embrace the archetype, is the counsel of the committee. And nothing embraces the archetype better than a bottle of Chianti. We’re in stage two, not time to bring out the big guns, the Aglianicos and the Amarones. Just a little classico, sans fiasco.
Act three, we wander into la donna è mobile country. Time for power, richness, whelm and overwhelm. Long arias, lengthy and more time-consuming. So we will be needing something from Piemonte. A blend of Nebbiolo and Barbera or possibly even some of the dreaded Cabernet. Coppo in Piemonte makes a red wine called Alter Ego, a Cabernet/Barbera red which is plush and concentrated. More than a sipping wine, so have some food for the poor dear, don’t starve her. Don’t worry; there will be plenty of time for Brachetto and dessert, after midnight. Just let Verdi work his magic along with Coppo’s concoction.
Too late for an overture, but maybe time for a sorbetto. Freshen things up a bit. Spruce up the place. Nothing too sweet, maybe slightly bitter, something that will move into the romantic realm, but not too blatant. Time for a white wine? I would go with a Fiano with a little age on it, that way you could be a little philosophical while you are spinning your web around your little drosophila. And with something like a Fiano, or even a higher level Soave, there will be ample alcohol to divert the object of your attention from the main objective. All the while the parties are experiencing a wonderful wine and so if the finale doesn’t result in what you had planned, all is not lost. But most likely you will succeed. And still not veer too far off the wine trail in Italy.
Sometimes it just seems that it will never lead to what you have been desiring, like going to see La Bohème and arriving to the opera on the night they were staging Gilbert and Sullivan. But if you should persevere and be patient, then you will be rewarded. Life, love and loss, all part of the cuvee of a grand wine. For this act, we thought it could only be staged with a sultry Amarone. And not a small player but something that makes a statement, like a Viviani or a Le Ragose, Cavalchina or if possible, a Dal Forno. One in the group thought a night with a bottle of Amarone could persuade even the most bitter and cold-hearted woman. Not that any in that group would ever attempt to scale a peak in the depths of the Underworld. Call it overkill to overshoot the mark and reach the goal. Sound cynical? Cold? Calculating? Were not talking vodka martinis, that would be cold and calculating. No, Amarone is powerfully persuasive but classically romantic.
Wild passionate one night stand? Bizet’s Carmen and a powerful and volatile Sicilian red, what else? Something like the Lamuri from Tasca or the Cadetto from La Lumia. This is wine to drink in a moment of passion before the sun rises, and to be gone before she awakens. Brandishing swords and swashbuckling and a climactic though far too soon lowering of the curtains.
Next, mixing it up. Some in our group had variations on a theme in mind, so to propitiate them we team-worked the wine for that occasion. Sexy but not vulgar. One of us really wanted to propose a southern dessert wine, a passito. Another suggested keeping it a little lighter, maybe a moscato d’asti. But neither of those ideas really clicked. And then one of the geniuses in this brain trust hit upon the idea of a little known white wine from Lazio. Coenobium, a blend of Verdicchio, Grechetto and Trebbiano, organically farmed and made into wine by Cistercian nuns. Sexy? Oh yes, this is a white wine masquerading as a red wine of little color, a pigmentless wine with plenty of stroke. Did I really say that? And while there is the monastic craft of the wine, there is a communal pleasure that the wine delivers. Nuff said? Now I’m really going to hell.
Where is Puccini when you really need him? Waiting in the wings, for the finale with that sweet little bottle of wine? But this is no time for Moscato or just any passito. This might be the last time, so why not take down a bottle of the stuff legends are made of? I will need to go back to one of my posts and plagiarize myself (and Coleridge).
“Sagrantino passito from Antonelli San Marco in Montefalco. It is one of the primal wines of central Italy."
"Lights down, music to a low chant, with only the heat from the candles. Once inside, the wine turned my palate towards the pagan. We had landed in Xanadu: the sacred river, the pleasure dome, the caverns measureless to man and the sunless sea. The milk of Paradise. "
"What to do with such a wine? if a dessert is needed, go to your local church and pilfer some of the communion hosts, pre-sanctified. Dip them in a wild honey and dust them with cinnamon. If you must have the Body to go with the Blood.”
All the while Verdi’s Nabucco plays into the morning towards its meeting of destiny with the rising sun.
Romance is so exhausting – Nessun Dorma – Bona Notte