Saturday, 10 January 2009

Bloke's tipple

Well I succumbed over the weekend to a very delicious glass (ok, bottle) of sparkling something to help me over my cold. Yes, the one that seems to be going around at the moment. I blame the hippy looking guy sitting next to me on the Eurostar. I should have upgraded. But in the spirit of charity and New Year’s resolutions I should be more forgiving.

It is freezing in Paris and the buzz of activity from the market round the corner, with all the traders blanketed up to fend off the cold, people scuttling along trying to get their shopping done in half the time, rotisseries turning steaming chickens and the flower stall with lilies, roses, exotic plants glistening with the frost and damp, and me, packing away half the flat, and the memories of Dominique. ( I am returning to Bath to help Pa with his packing as he goes off to retire near family in Australia. I should be in the removal business).

So, taking advice from Cosmopolitan, or similar women’s publications, I run myself a steaming bath, get some nibbles out and shame myself by opening a bottle of Prosecco di Conegliano (Waitrose) which was left over from Christmas, and which I brought over. I know, it is a bit like taking instant coffee to Brazil. Pink as a lobster, wrapped in a huge towelling dressing gown, gas fire on and enough time to bring the temperature of the bottle up to a better level (you don’t want your wine too chilled) I sit with my feet up on the sofa and my glass to hand ready to savour the moment.

The colour is so light and pale straw, and bubbles rising excitedly from the bottom. This is fey! Were it not for the five o’clock shadow and chest hair I would worry about myself drinking this stuff rather than a beefy Burgundy. Should I cock my little finger at this point? Maybe have curlers in (a bit difficult when you are half bald and have a crew cut)? Oh well. What the hell! Cough! Scratch a bit and get back to the moment at hand Lou.

The fragrance, and remember I have a cold, is so light you can barely note the marzipan almonds, peach and lemon fruits and floral notes, each scent is so light it could imply disappointment when it comes to the taste. But as it warms up, I think of being in a restaurant where the waiter whisks by holding a huge bowl of fruit salad or trifle, wafting the fragrance here and there. The taste reflects it all. So wonderfully light and p├ętillant on the tongue, the mix of flavours, crisp apple and honeysuckle, cream and white peach, a hint of lemon all rounded off with a gentle acidity and flintiness, gives it a light and refreshing quality. This is something that will lift my spirits and refresh my aching stomach after the festivities a few days ago, and reinvigorate me (but I will confirm that next time).

Thoughts? Prosecco is such a great drink, so brilliantly light and refreshing. It is so different from the heavier rival, Champagne. Obviously there is the different grape variety, Pinot Blanc or Pinot Gris, and different terroir (wind coming down from the Alps to the low plain of the Veneto). But they also make it in a different manner, where the secondary fermentation, the bit that gives you the fey bubbles and the cocked finger, is done in steel vats rather than in bottles. So no d├ęgorgement, remouillage, marc liqueur or other production. Straight into the bottle, no fuss, no nonsense. Ready to pour. Maybe more blokey than I originally thought.

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