Thursday, July 24, 2014

Winey Tasting Notes: Spritzing Like They Do In Italy!

The Winey Mom sipping a Spritz in Rome
One of my Spritz breaks. I saw them served
mostly in this oversized red wine type glass.
Another post about sipping like an Italian, or as I call it, "What I Did On Vacation." This time, I'm going to tell you how to make a Spritz. If you want to sip like they do in Italy, you've got to know about this drink. I was alerted to its existence by a Winey Friend who was in Italy just before we were, so I was prepared to look for it. But as I soon found, you don't need to look far. It's on nearly every menu there, but in different areas of the menu. For instance, one restaurant could have it listed under the aperitif (before the meal) section. Another could have it listed under cocktails. And a few of them had it listed with the soft drinks. (Quick soft drink aside here: if you order coke, ask for "American champagne". It'll get a laugh out of your server and show them that yes, you know that you are American, that you have a sense of humor and that you still want it anyway. Personal experience here.)

Spritz originated in Venice, but you can find it anywhere you go in Italy. Don't confuse it with a wine spritzer, which is wine mixed with seltzer (and considered by some to be a waste of wine - why DILUTE it, for heaven's sake?). The Winey Son and I enjoyed many of them (ahem) on the very hot June and July days and nights we spent in Italy.

Italian menu listing for Spritz
 Spritz listing on a menu - grouped
this time with cocktails. 
bottle of Aperol
The Winey Mom's brand
new bottle of Aperol. 
The basic ingredients for a Spritz are Prosecco (Italian white sparkling wine), Aperol (an Italian aperitif, a liqueur with a bitter orange taste) and seltzer water. Whenever we had it, it was garnished with orange slices. Typically, you'd use a dry Prosecco, as opposed to the sweet variety (but it might be fun to experiment sometime!). There are other liqueurs you can use to make a Spritz (Campari, for one), but the ones we had were all made with the bright red Aperol. So as soon as we hit the USA, I headed out for a bottle of Aperol (don't buy it in Italy, it'll just make your suitcase heavier and it's easy to find here) and some Prosecco (whatever brand you like - but since I was mixing it to make a Spritz, I kept my price point to under $15, which is easy to do). I usually have some club soda hanging around, so I used that.

Now, as for the actual "recipe" for the drink. Let me put it this way, if you ask 20 different people how to make chili, you will get the same basic dish, made with varying amounts of spices, meats, beans and veggies. So it is with a Spritz. You have three ingredients and can mix them up in a ton of different ratios (but don't take my word for it, go ahead and google "Italian Spritz recipe" and see for yourself). One page will tell you to add all three in equal amounts (i.e.: one part Prosecco, one part Aperol, one part soda). The back of the Aperol bottle suggests 3:2:1. (I've also seen 2:1.5:1, but who has time for all that math?) I started out with 3:2:1, since it was the one I saw the most. If you are totally against a bitter taste, go less on the Aperol, but the bitter taste was really what gave the Spritz its zesty kick. You could also add some more orange slices, but I suggest saving them to the end of your drink and then eating them - yummy!!

What you will taste in a Spritz is a bubbly, sour fruit drink.  It is a very refreshing drink. (The smaller Prosecco bubbles meet with the big old club soda bubbles and really go to town!) It is very easy to drink, especially if you are thirsty, so consider yourself warned.

And now I have some Winey homework for you all: Make a Spritz. Tell me what kind of Prosecco you used, what ratio you decided on, and what you thought about it. We can compare notes and survive summer's hot weather all at the same time.

And in the meantime.... Cin cin (translation: cheers)!!!!

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