I have the greatest respect for writers. In fact, I sometimes pretend to be one. Every time I see the possibility of an amusing story, my heart beats a little faster and my brain sorts through a list of superlative adjectives. If ever there was a time to be a writer, it's now! Particularly since I am supposed to have this article finished by the end of the day.
When my charming wife, the ever-lovely Ora and I first moved to Italy, I thought making a good impression was highly overrated. I reasoned that if I appeared to be a slob, it would be a pleasant surprise for others if I were to dress up, use polite manners, and refrain from wiping my mouth on their tablecloths. I would get compliments, right? Apparently, I was (surprise, surprise), wrong.
Lambrusco; 4 glasses
Italian is not an easy language to master, let alone a phrase that can intimidate a Neopolitan cabbie. To celebrate such an achievement you should uncork a spicy bottle of Lambrusco, a somewhat sweet, fizzy wine with delicious, grapey flavors. Dry and sparkling styles also exist in case you need to wash out your mouth.
Amarone; minimum 2 bottles
Ah, young love. Your daughter may have met 'the one' in Bologna last week, but their plan to run away and raise sheep will not go very far. Do yourself a favor and sip a glass of liquid romance. It's a lusty, full bodied wine and its concentrated fruitiness suggests sweetness. Remember that you were once young and enjoy your wine with a rich cheese, the stinkier the better.
Barolo; 3 glasses
Produced from Nebbiolo grapes, it is full-bodied with hints of wild strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla. This is an excellent wine to have with pasta. So pull over and have some pasta while you get directions. You still won't know where the hell Roccamandolfi is, but what matters is the wine.
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano; 2 glasses
Medium-bodied, dry, and lean, with red cherry flavor, similar to Chianti but slightly fuller. You deserve an extra glass if you pass this article along to a friend. Salute!
Chianti; 2 glasses
Chianti is produced in the heart of Tuscany in the center of Italy... nowhere near Chicago. But, Chianti Classico is considered by some to be the best of the Italian wines. It blends different grapes for a subtle, fruity taste of wild cherries and plums. Chianti is as soft and dry as a 2nd baseman's glove. It goes well with steaks, grilled meats and that barbeque sauce you would be having if you were at home watching the Cubs on TV. But hey, they'll do it again in another 75 years or so.
Medium-bodied wine. Dry, lean, and moderately tannic, with good cherry aromas and flavors. Single-vineyard wines are particularly good. Next time, maybe you too should think about fewer places, less people and reduced baggage.
Vernaccia di San Gimignano; 2 glasses (after the police interview)
The phrase, "we need to talk" is always a red flag, but imagine those words coming out of an Italian policeman's mouth. A full-bodied wine with a golden color, crisp taste and rich floral bouquet, this is one of Italy's oldest wines, once suited only for the tables of fine gentlemen, popes, and princes. Being a gentlemen, pope or prince may get you out of a ticket. Either way, you'll need a graceful and elegant wine after the conversation.
Montepulciano d'Abruzzo; 1 glass
Generally medium-bodied and flavorful with red fruits and a slightly vegetal notes, the lighter types are smooth and easy to drink before dinner. Take all the time you need to bask in this classic Italian wine. But don't spoil your appetite because the restaurant won't start serving until 8 o'clock.
Verdicchio; 3 glasses
Dry, medium-bodied, crisp white with a slight mineral flavor and a sea-air freshness. It pairs beautifully with all 'frutti di mare' dishes and after just a few glasses, you can stare down any sea creature on your plate.
Frascati; 2 glasses
Dry, light-bodied, and un-oaked with crisp acidity and subdued flavor. Maybe start dreaming about staying here forever on the Mediterranean coast. Anything can happen. Make lemonade out of lemons... better yet, forget about lemons and just drink the wine.
Barbaresco; 1 bottle
Similar to Barolo, but generally lighter in body and slightly more approachable. Goodbye travel, sightseeing, and dinner plans. Take the money you save and spend it on a bottle of Barbaresco and a pizza in the neighborhood.
Barolo; 1 bottle
Speaking of butts, celebrate yours with this firm, dry, full-bodied wine. Its complex aromas and flavors of strawberries, herbs, and earth is best at around 20 years of age depending on the butt, I mean the producer. Like the guy on the scooter, it may blow you a kiss before it disappears.
Pinot Grigio; 3 glasses
Light-bodied, dry, and crisp, with subdued aromas and flavors and no oakiness. Made from Pinot Gris grapes in Northeastern Italy. However, no streets doesn't mean you get to sit around and do nothing. Take a walk, take a boat, but take a tangy Pinot Grigio and get sassy.
Salice Salentino; 1 glass
Dry, full-bodied with intense aromas and flavors of ripe, plummy, baked fruit, and rich, dense texture. Suitable with big, robust foods and the narrow, little streets of southern Italy. Leave the minivan parked.
Prosecco; 2 bottles
Italy's sparkling wine is weightless, lemony fresh, and bubbling with life... kinda like you were before the kids. It has a fresh taste and flavor and is an excellent wine for summer vacations with hints of citrus, melon, and almonds. Plus, when you call grandma and the kids, all those tiny bubbles help you get teary-eyes going. Tell them you miss them and will be counting down the moments until you get back to them. Ask grandma to give them a big hug. Once you hang up... pop some bottles. Don't even grab a glass. It's your party now.
There you go. This article is complete. Hmmph... and you thought I wouldn't make the deadline.
I think I'll have a nice glass of wine.
How's that for Italian cool, huh?
Frank is an award-winning advertising professional, now retired, from Denver, Colorado who is living the sweet life in southern Italy. In addition to a successful career in advertising, he had stints as the owner of an old west saloon, a film and stage character actor, a certified Santa Claus and a university professor... all of which, he says, are 'remarkably similar'.
He now focuses on traveling, honing his skills as an Italian chef, and writing about Italy as he and his charming wife, the ever lovely Ora, renovate their home in beautiful Basilicata.
Their journey back to Italy started 100 years ago when their ancestors first arrived in the United States. Frank and his wife had dreamed of completing the circle of immigration by returning to their ancestral roots in southern Italy.
Their collective memories of the traditions, values and Italian lifestyle drew Frank and his wife back many, many times until they finally bought their house in Italy and moved there permanently.
In honor of the past, and in anticipation of the future, their lovely home is named, 'La Casa Cent'anni', (The Hundred Years House). 'Cent'anni' is also a celebratory toast of goodwill.
So, "Cent'anni" to you, and to us, and to the next 100 years!