Coming up soon in October "9th STREET WINE MIXER" in partnership with a Local North Californian Winery from Napa Valley, we'll be presenting our wines in a special wine tasting event in Downtown Los Angeles, CA, USA.




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“When in Rome, do as the Romans do” is one of those maxims that tends to come in handy wherever you go, but it’s especially informative in Italy where local festivals, seasonal eating, and a more relaxed pace of life are important parts of the culture.
You can certainly visit without adopting any local habits and customs during your stay, but we don’t recommend it. Perhaps our favorite Italian tradition is the aperitivo, a drink/light meal that takes place at the end of the workday as a kind of warm up to dinner. Despite the intensely regional character of Italian culture, this is one observance, along with Sunday mass and soccer, that you will find in almost every single town and city in the peninsula. If you don’t take part when you visit you are missing one of the quintessential cultural expressions of Italy, not to mention the best way to enjoy the sunset.
An aperitivo is a pre-meal drink specifically meant to whet your appetite. Although the concept of inspiring your stomach to do one thing or another with alcohol is probably as old as alcohol itself, the concept of the modern apéritif is generally thought to have been invented (or effectively marketed) by the distiller Antonio Benedetto Carpano, who also created one of the first types of vermouth in Turin in 1786. He claimed that his special combination of fortified white wine and various herbs and spices stimulated the appetite and was more suitable for ladies to drink than red wine. It thus became one of the first popular aperitivo drinks. Vermouth became popular very quickly but it remains unclear when people began referring to these sorts of boozy pseudo-medicines as ‘aperitivi’. What we do know is that the term comes from the Latin word for “opener”, signifying that it was to open a meal.Today, the simple drink has evolved and spread south to encompass those glorious couple of hours all over Italy — generally between 7pm and 9 pm — when Italians meet to relax over a glass of wine or a light cocktail and finger foods.

Since most people eat lunch around 1 or 2pm, and dinner around 8 or 9 pm, it’s also a good way to kick start metabolisms and work up an appetite for dinner.

For visitors, hitting up an aperitivo bar can be just as useful. It’s a great way to experience local culture, to people-watch, to unwind with a drink after a long day of sightseeing… and to take the edge off your hunger while waiting for that 9pm meal!

Check out How to Drink Like an Italian to learn how to sip in style. 

The food for an aperitivo is not supposed to replace your dinner (but it can)

Snacks for aperitivo can be anything at all!Snacks for aperitivo can be anything at all!
Traditionally aperitivo cocktail options tend to be light on alcohol and bitter on taste, meaning they pair perfectly with salty snacks. Appetizers and other light fare should be provided as long as you are drinking, though the types of foods vary immensely from cheeses and cured meats, to quiches, vegetables, pizzas and even small plates of pasta. The idea is to nibble, but many young Italians and other tourists have begun to use the aperitivo in lieu of a dinner, filling up their plates multiple times to satisfy hunger.

This is perfectly acceptable but not really the point of an aperitivo, assuming you aren’t on a tight budget. Before taking too much food and being seen as a rude tourist, observe what the others are doing. Some bars put out enough food to feed a small army, and don’t mind multiple trips back or plate-sharing, but in general one drink means one plate of food. If you want more food, you’ll need to buy another drink.

Like all Italian food customs, the style of your aperitivo will depend on where you are. Milan is, hands-down, the best place for an aperitivo in Italy. This is where the bars are buzzing and the selection of both food and drinks for aperitivo is excellent. The Milanese even have their own version of the aperitivo creation story, only theirs replaces Antonio Benedetto Carpano with Gaspare Campari, the inventor of another popular apéritif, the eponymous Campari. The farther south you go, the harder it is to find a ‘proper’ aperitivo in the sense of a bar that serves a buffet at a set time every day—but the trend is catching on. Rome, Florence, and Naples all have aperitivo scenes, even if the Milanese might scoff at them, and many of the establishments are very lively and great for people-watching in the evenings! Ca' Montalbano Wines are the perfect wines for Aperitivo, fresh and modern taste, that will transform your early night in a delightful dream of passion, where the quality and the research in wine design transform your bottle in an outstanding pleasure to remember.

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The food and wine that are paramount to Italian culture date back to ancient times. The relationship betwe­en the Emilia region and wine grape appears to have lasted for millennia -- archaeologists have found fossilized remains of the earliest wine grapes plant that are between 12,000 and 20,000 years old. These fruits were almost certainly wild rather than cultivated.

The birth of wine production in Romagna probably occurred in the seventh century B.C., in the Villanovan civilization in the Po Valley . Evidence also suggests that the Etruscans and celts cultivated red grapes in the area and may have been the ones to bequeath the practice of viticulture to central Italy . Certainly the industry was in full stride by the height of the Roman Empire, as evidenced in the writings of the poet Virgil and the scholar Pliny the Elder that refer specifically to the sangiovese (Sanguis Jovis) grape and its nature.

Early theories on the origin of Sangiovese dated the grape to the time the Roman art in winemaking .It was even postulated that the grape was first cultivated in Tuscany by the Etruscans from wild Vitis vinifera vines. The literal translation of the grape's name, the "blood of Jove", refers to the Roman god Jupiter. According to legend, the name was coined by monks from the commune of Santarcangelo di Romagna in what is now the province of Rimini in the romagna sub region of emilia romagna-east-central Italy.

The first documented mention of Sangiovese was in the 1590 writings of Giovanvettorio Soderini (also known under the pen name of Ciriegiulo). Identifying the grape as "Sangiogheto" Soderini notes that in Tuscany the grape makes very good wine but if the winemaker is not careful, it risks turning into vinegar.

While there is no conclusive proof that Sangiogheto is Sangiovese, most wine historians generally consider this to be the first historical mention of the grape. Regardless, it would not be until the 18th century that Sangiovese would gain widespread attention throughout Tuscany, being with Malvasia and Trebbiano the most widely planted grapes in the region.

In 1738, Cosimo Trinci described wines made from Sangiovese as excellent when blended with other varieties but hard and acidic when made as a wine by itself. In 1883, the Italian writer Giovanni Cosimo Villifranchi echoed a similar description about the quality of Sangiovese being dependent on the grapes with which it was blended. The winemaker and politician, Bettino Ricasoli formulated one of the early recipes for Chianti when he blended his Sangiovese with a sizable amount of Canaiolo. In the wines of Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Sangiovese would experience a period of popularity in the late 19th and early 20th century. In the 1970s, Tuscan winemakers began a period of innovation by introducing modern oak treatments and blending the grape with non-Italian varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon in the creation of wines that were given the collective marketing sobriquet "Super Tuscans".

The naturalist Marcus Terentius Varro, whose work "De Re Rustica" (On Agriculture) influenced both writers, confirmed that Albana, Trebbiano and Spergola grapes were being grown in the Po River valley in the first century B.C. . And according to a legend dating from the fifth century A.D., a daughter of the Roman emperor was offered Albana wine in a small Romagnan village and exclaimed that such a beverage should be drunk in gold (in Latin, "berti in oro"). Thus, the village took the name Bertinoro.

Over the years, wines have developed and thrived in certain locations, with specific grapes and cultivation techniques suited to the conditions of the soil and climate. Local wines and foods have evolved in close association with each other. Emilia-Romagna is the source of many treasures of Italian cuisine, such as seasoned cheese, Prosciutto and other cured meats. The unique wines of the region are meant to complement the flavors of the local cuisine.

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