Sophisticated Living Indianapolis

JUL-AUG 2012

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Aperitivo, Aperol Spritz Do you ever wonder what to have as a cocktail before dinner or what to have to drink while waiting for a table at your favorite restaurant? You will likely be having wine with dinner and you do not want a beer or a high alcohol cocktail like a martini or one of those crazy sweet en vogue cocktails – you are in a quandary. Or perhaps you need something to refresh your palate and prepare it for the great meal to come? Try an Italian Aperitivo, Aperol Spritz! I was introduced to one of my favorite aperitivos in Italy about four years ago. We had tasted through two dozen Brunello di Montalcinos in Montalcino and were taking a break for lunch. My palate was getting close to fatigued, and I needed something fresh and vibrant to restore it to enjoy a wonderful Tuscan lunch. I had been expectorating, so consuming a little wine with lunch and a drink before lunch would still allow me to enjoy the remainder of the day's tastings and activities. Our host suggested a spritz, which is more commonly called an Aperol Spritz. Always one open to a suggestion, I said "yes." I observed the bartender take a large wine glass, fill it with ice and drop a freshly cut blood orange in it. He poured the Venetian sparkling wine prosecco over the ice. So far this seemed pretty basic and maybe a tad boring. He then added the Italian spirit Aperol and topped it with a splash of sparkling mineral water. With my palate needing to be refreshed and my thirst building, I took a quick sip. Wow! The juxtaposition of the orange flavor and slightly bitter flavor along with the vivacious bubbles of the sparkling wine was surprising. I quickly dispatched another sip, and what seemed like layers of tired coatings of red wine were removed from my palate. Restoring and refreshing my palate completely by the end of the glass allowed me to better enjoy my lunch and the wines that were paired with it. I later investigated exactly what Aperol was. When I first saw it being poured, I equated it to one of my other favorite Italian aperitivos, Campari. It has the same bright orange color, but despite that it looks like Campari, Aperol has an alcohol content of 11 percent, which is less than half of Campari. It is also intentionally less bitter. Aperol is essentially a secret recipe, but they do tell us it is an infusion of orange, hints of mandarin, and a collection of herbs, roots and spices including rhubarb. Te two Barbieri 34 Written by Scott Harper, Master Sommelier brothers in Padua, Italy, originally made it in 1919, and Aperol remains unchanged despite now being owned by Campari. It is the number one selling spirit in Italy, and it is reported that in Veneto, there are 300,000 Aperol Spritzes consumed every day. I enjoy an Aperol Spritz before dinner, especially in the summer. It is the perfect beverage while grilling on a hot day. Te first wine of the evening seems to flow a little bit smother after an Aperol Spritz. I have had variations of the Aperol Spritz, one of which included using French champagne instead of the Italian prosecco, but I prefer the prosecco. Prosecco is a very good quality light, dry Italian sparkling wine that lends itself better to the cocktail then the richer, fuller French champagne. Try this recipe to make the traditional Aperol Spritz. sl APEROL SPRITZ Fill your favorite 12-ounce glass with ice Add a slice of orange or blood orange Add three parts of prosecco Two parts of Aperol Te splash of soda avoids the Aperol settling at the bottom. A Certified Wine Educator, Scott is one of 118 professionals in North America and 186 worldwide who have earned the title Master Sommelier.

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