When we think of house wine in Italy, we are usually talking about what a restaurant serves when you ask for a basic red or white with your meal. It is an everyday wine, local to whatever region you live in and is never pretentious. It is often served in of a quarter, half or one liter carafes Today I am writing about our vino della casa. The wine we drink most nights at home. It is a rare evening that we do not have a glass of red with dinner and going to pick it out has become a family’s tradition on Pasquetta, the day after Easter, which is a holiday in Italy.
Mauro’s parents, Maria and Pino, used to go to a farm near Clavesana (Pino was born there) every year during the September harvest and in exchange for their labor picking grapes, they would get a couple of demijohns (54 liters each) of wine the following spring. Our lives are too busy to think about spending a week picking grapes, and I am usually on tour during the harvest, in any case. We instead make our annual pilgrimage to the Cantina of Clavesana, a wine Coop where we taste and fill a demijohn with wine and then bottle at home. Siete pronti…are you ready?
Pasquetta, or Little Easter, we traditionally spend having lunch with family and friends, a picnic, BBQ or in a restaurant; it is a day to relax. We have done all of the above over the years and this year was no different. We decided on lunch in an agriturismo near Clavesana so we did not have to cook and could easily stop for wine on the way home. I have to be honest. Our lunch was good, but not spectacular so I am not going to waste any time writing about it. The company, in comparison, was great! Mauro’s sister, her husband and their son, who we only see a few times a year since he is studying opera in Milan. A family friend joined us as well. It was a beautiful day and we returned to one of the Big Benches I wrote about last year. After a three-hour lunch it was time for a stretch and…
Time for wine! The Cantina of Clavesana is a cooperative in an area known mostly for Dolcetto, a dry red wine that should be drunk young, and they produce quite a few other wines too. Arneis and Favorita are typical whites from this area. Barbera, one of my favorites, but not every day, and Nebbiolo, which is the varietal used in Barbaresco and Barolo. Last year they started producing a Pinot Noir as well. The grand finale, my kids favorite, sweet and bubbly Moscato. It is very low in alcohol so they always get their own small glass while we do our tasting.
The bulk wine, kept in giant botte (barrels) built into the corner of the winery, have scales underneath them. If I remember correctly, 1 kg of wine is a liter. A few years ago, we decided we did not need a full demijohn for some reason so using the scale was important. We never made that mistake again…30 liters did not get us through the year so we always fill the demijohn to the top. Bulk wine is inexpensive, here they cost between $2.20 – $3.20 per liter but we do have to bottle and cork the wine ourselves. This is not the only wine we drink at home, that would get old considering all the amazing wines we have in Italy. This is the wine we drink most often.
Mauro always asks when he should bottle the wine and they always tell him ASAP or to wait a few weeks. It has to do with the moon but I am not well versed in this folklore. I do not know why he bothers to ask, as he cannot let a job sit undone and always does it as soon as we get home. I do not have to help, lucky me!
Once done we are good to go for another year, so sit back, put your feet up, have a glass wine and enjoy the pictures…Salute!