David asks in comments if I do requests. Absolutely, I’m always happy to get ideas about what readers want to know. It is difficult living here to know what you want to know more about and writing everyday it is always fantastic to get ideas. The loneliness of the long distant blogger !
So wine it is today. Let me start by saying I am no wine buff. I’m a slurper not a sipper (must be a song there ?) so quantity rather than quality is one of my requirements when buying wine . The Italians we go to for meals are guys that work with their hands and wine is drunk almost like water. Guests normally total about 12 so turning up with a €15 bottle of fine wine is nowhere near as appreciated as a five litre jug of slurping wine. That said it needs to be drinkable and there is perhaps more work involved in finding good cheap wine ( 80c-€1.50) a litre than a decent bottle. You have to kiss a load of frogs first. Red and rose ( rossato) seem much better in bulk than white. That I buy only in 1.5 litre bottles for €2.39 at Dico a local supermarket which has branches all over Puglia. The red and rossato I buy at my local bar for €6 for 5 litres.
Because I’m a slurper means I try to seek out less strong wine. I therefore avoid the primitivo grape which makes a powerful wine tipping the scales at 14 or 15% Alc and can hit a knee trembling 16%. I am always to be found in supermarkets busy turning the bottles around to study the alcohol level. The red from the bar is 10.5% and the Dico white 9% which is great. Negroamaro wines are always lower in alcohol and most of the grape mixes are as well. I usually pick Italian white wines from outside Puglia to find lower alcohol levels. There are, of course, whites grown up here around Martina Franca and Locorotondo is particularly famous for it’s whites but I’m a very dry white person and the wines from this region are too fruity and a bit sweet for me.
Long live life long live wine couldn’t say it better.
Yes I know I should be waxing on about chestnuts and gooseberries and bursting flavours but hey we are in the €1.25 a litre ball park here ! So apart from supermarkets and the local bar where can you go to buy wine ?
Well you can go straight to the source and buy from the winery but they tend not to do cheapy cheap in quantity but more bottles. The big problem however is their internet sites are less than informative on directions. Large blobs on a tiny google map don’t help and the strada names often prove impossible to find as well. The only way is to phone them and trust to your Italian and their ability to give clear directions. Now Italians aren’t good on those. The UK doesn’t realise how lucky it is to have pubs and churches to help pinpoint places, left at the Rose and Crown etc. . That doesn’t exist here so the locals are vague as to positioning and that is not helped by a lack of street names in towns and none in the countryside. Smaller wineries anyway prefer appointments and I find you then feel you need to buy as they have bothered to open up just for you but maybe that’s just me.
Far easier is Le Cantine. These are either co-ops or single winery owned and are in most towns and in these shops you can sample wine and also buy in bulk normally in my favoured 5 litre plastic flagons. No popping corks and sniffing the cork when you plonk one of those beauties on the dining room table for dinner !! You can find the shops on line at Paginegialle ( yellow pages) for the town you are living in or near.
Finally you can go to your local Enoteca ( wine shop), again look in the pagine gialle. These sell wine by the bottle, give discounts for buying a case and hold wine tasting evenings . They are more upmarket and whilst down here little or no English is spoken if you rehearse what you want from a wine they are very knowledgeable and point you quickly in the right direction.
I use one in Martina Franca if we have house guests who are ( or think they are) wine buffs or for when we do want a nice wine for Christmas, New Year etc. The guy in mine is really good and put me on to my splurge wine Masseria Altemura. This is the nectar of the gods and weighs in at about €12 a bottle . Their negroamaro is superb and I could almost start on woody fragrances lingering tantalizingly on the tongue with rushes of purple infused …….. but I won’t ! Try it if you can . Cin cin is cheers down here ( ch by the way).
Flagon I see comes from French and was the container the Eucharist wine was kept in. Now the best place I ever attend communion was in the British Church in Oporto . Oporto is home to port wine and when we lived there in the early 80’s all of the port wine companies were run by Brits. The Anglican church had it’s own British vicar posted there by the Bishop of London. Port families had their own pews in the church as did the British consul who was the friend I used to go with . As we all knelt at the rail the priest would bring first the wafer and then the wine which was always a very fine port gifted by one of the growers. The game each Sunday was to guess both the port house and the year. So while the vicar doled out his slurps from his silver chalice all along the rail you could hear voices saying Taylors ’47, no Warre 48, no no Delaforce 45. Reaching the end of the rail the vicar would loudly whisper Cockburns ’43 you were all wrong.
She was most famous fado singer ever. If you get to go to a fado evening the game is to know when to clap at the end. Aficionados know every word and note so get their hands ready in the clap position to begin clapping just at the right moment. Early and you are booed, late and you clearly aren’t a true lover of fado. Best to just drink the wine and enjoy the music I always found.