The week-end is approaching. Drinks after work on Thursday. Hundreds of cool bars downtown are buzzing with well dressed thirsty Montrealers. White wine, Red, Cosmos, Lychee Martinis, are being served up everywhere.
foto: Manchester, England
Having a drink after work in Italy is as popular as it is here, however in Italy, everything centers around food. In Italy, if your in a bar after work your not just drinking, fai l’aperitivo. Having a pre-dinner drink – an aperitivo. (An aperitivo is a drink that stimulates the appetite and tells the palette food is coming.) Trendy bars offer finger foods like bruschettas or mini pizzas to help with the second round. Upon my recent tour of Italy this past September, the most popular drink aside from still table wine was Franciacorta.

What’s franciacorta?

It is the name of the wine region in Lombardy that produces white, red and sparkling. Its most famous for bubbly though. Franciacorta is Italy’s answer to Champagne.

Made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc grapes in the traditional method (the same used in making champagne). In short, the bubbles are formed and trapped in the bottle as opposed to in a large tank. This process is more expensive but there’s a big difference in the finesse of the bubbly. The tank method is used for the production of another popular italian sparkler-Prosecco.

Franciacorta has particular characteristics that makes it easily identifiable. Its colour is straw yellow with green tinges. Its bubbly mousse creamy and persistent. Its nose is striking with hints of nuts and baked bread. When you take a sip you’ll experience its elegance and its freshness.
Styles of Franciacorta

Demi-Sec: Just before the cork is placed on the bottle every bottle of Franciacorta produced recieves its sugar dose. This determines how dry it will be.

recieves the most sugar. It’s perfect with desserts. Strawberry tarts or Vanilla Pannacotta.

Brut: This is the most common of all. Broiled fish such as striped bass or white meat such as chicken or turkey. Fried calamari, or tempura of veggies. It also accompanies the regional DOP Taleggio cheese.

Non-Dosato-This recieves no sugar before the final capping therefore is the driest of all franciacortas. It’s best as an aperitif or can pair well with shellfish or oysters.

Satèn: Franciacorta made from white grapes only. Similar to Champagne’s blanc de blancs. There is less atmospheric pressure in the bottle, giving the bubbles a softer, creamier mouthfeel. Without the Pinot Noir grape that gives the structure, it is more delicate, elegant and has more finesse. Try it with mild dishes that are a little more complex.

Rosé: The red and white grapes are vinified seperately until the winemaker then decides the percentage of each grape to use for the final blend.The most structured of Franciacortas, pairs well with cold cuts such as Prosciutto or Speck. Try it with traditional veal scallopina alla parmiggiano or chicken cacciatore.

Vintage: A Franciacorta Brut made from grapes only from the particular vintage stated on the label.