Intoxicating Love and Inspiration from Wonderful Italy
Text By: Amar B. Shrestha
I write this in a pretty plastered state of mind. My mind’s all woozy, my tongue still quite raw and tingling. The first, because of the four glasses of wine I’ve drunk (two of red and two of white) and the second because of the spicy haku choila and sandeko sukuti that I had along with the wines. Not to forget, the two fried fishes that weren’t all that spicy, but went well with the white wine.
They aren’t some ordinary wines that I am talking about. They’re the real Mc’Coy, meaning, real Italian wine. Vesper, to be more precise. If you are the sort to be interested in the nitty-gritty, the white wine is called Vesper Orvieto Classico, while the red wine carries the moniker of Vesper Cabernet Sauvignon. The labels have all other sorts of things written in small print, but my eyes are a bit unfocussed now, so pardon me that I cannot detail them here. Suffice it to say that the red wine is supposed to go well with first courses and lightly grilled meat dishes.
Now, haku choila is anything but that, but what I discovered is that, it’s not a bad accompaniment to red wine. Similarly, white wine is recommended to be taken along with seafood, cheese, and light chicken dishes, but all I had with me were the aforesaid items (which included nicely fried fishes), and I tell you, the white meat of the fish tasted really good with the white wine. Anyway, the foodstuff was the least of my worries, since it was the wines that I was more concerned about.
It’s not every day that I get the chance to roll around original Italian wine on my tongue, what with the plethora of domestic and other wines competing for space on the shelves of department shops around the city. But, today is my lucky day, and what I have before me are two wines that come straight from the vineyards of Italy. As I sniff into the goblet of red wine, I can recognize straightaway that this is a wine that’s not to be taken lightly. The aroma is quite heady, with the distinctive fragrance of plump purple grapes and ruby red berries playing havoc with the finely tuned sensors in my olfactory glands. Forgive me for that bit about ‘finely tuned’, it sounds quite boastful, but what to do, one has to acquire a certain degree of fine sensory taste when drinking such fine wine, otherwise it’s a waste. And, isn’t that a terrible thing to happen? It’s an acquired taste, they say, so thankfully, anyone can to do so, provided that the right inclination is there in the first place.
A few swishes around the goblet, and the first sip brings a sense of richness to my tongue that I naturally have to attribute to the superb blend of flavors. Yes, the Cabernet Sauvignon indeed endows me with something akin to a feeling of royalty. I feel quite the king, in other words. As the sips increase in number, the warmth, too, is transmitted down to my innermost being, and what was once heady to my olfactory senses now slowly but surely becomes as heady to my other senses. The result is that I feel myself enjoying myself more; the choila and the fish and the sukuti taste even more delicious, and the wine, so fruity, so fragrant, and oh so heavenly!
But, surprise, surprise! It is, however, the white wine that brings more enjoyment to my palate; there isn’t much of an aroma, the color is pale (obviously), and the taste is anything but flavorsome. It is, in other words, quite unassuming, but nevertheless, really very pleasing to the senses. It doesn’t shout from the rooftops that it comes from one of the most fruitful vineyards in the world, the La Carraia Winery that lies between Baschi and Orvieto in central Italy, yet it clearly displays a distinctive veneer of polished sophistication and class. This is no wine to be gulped down the throat; it deserves the full attention of your palate. Let me tell you, it brought new life to mine.
Back home in Italy, wines are an integral part of meals, many of which are of many courses. Before starting on a new dish, a few sips of such fine wines is mandatory, the purpose being not only to wash the palate of any lingering taste of the previous dish, but also to revive the taste buds, so that your palate is more discerning of each new taste. This is what being a gourmet means, and the countries of the Mediterranean, which includes the likes of Italy and France and Spain, therefore are acclaimed for their exquisite cuisine, a natural offshoot to the discerning taste of their folks, who proudly call themselves true connoisseurs of food.
Anyway, the Vesper Orvieto Classico is not as fulsome as the Vesper Cabernet Sauvignon, but it has the classic taste of what we imagine white wine to be, albeit with a purity of flavor that is more than a cut above the rest. It immediately brought a soothing serenity to my epicurean senses, and so smoothly that I found it difficult to recall what had lingered before. And, so, the fish on my plate acquired a new kind of gastronomic aura, the crispy outer became all the tastier, while the virginal white meat, soft and inviting, bestowed on my eager palate its full range of delicious fish flavors.
Needless to say, in no time at all, or so it seemed, the last morsels of exquisite happiness had disappeared from my plate, while the elegant green bottles of Vesper Orvieto Classico and Vesper Cabernet Sauvignon—as much as my tranquil visual orbs could see—were now less than half full, and I was, as I said in the beginning of this piece, pretty much plastered, with a smile of deep, deep, satisfaction on my lips, and the intoxicating aroma and sophisticated flavors of true Italian wine very much a part of me for the time being.