Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Total prosecco embarrassment! Oh wait

Once again I must write "in a tearing hurry," as Laurie the neighbor did in Little Women, because daughter is cooking dinner, which will be ready pronto, and tomorrow is my early day, which means I must get to bed early for my beauty sleep tonight. Of course I have WFMT all set up and ready to go, for the cats and me to fall asleep to. I only hope they've got something good lined up -- the radio station, not the cats -- for tonight's Tuesday Night Opera. I can only listen to WFMT, late night, a few nights a week, because so much of their after-10 p.m. programming is such dreck. I do love and admire the station as a regular thing, but really. I ask you. Friday night: Studs Terkel. If he does not mention both Louis Armstrong and Billie Holliday in the first five seconds of some ancient archived show, consider yourself lucky. Saturday night: all folk music. Sunday night, "Pipe Dreams," an hour of organ music. It all sounds like a merry-go-round, and then it is so odd to hear the startled audience clapping in church. Monday night: some sort of intellectual program, usually involving "Chicago's blues history," not too far removed in emphasis from Studs Terkel. More white people on the North Shore, pretending they're hardscrabble and black. Wednesday night: I forget, but I think it's something else intellectual. Thursday night: the salvation of the after 10 pm programming week, -- "the Baroque and Before." Sheer delight.  

Anyway all that comes later. The point now is I must tell you some wine news which seems to be no more than five years old (! -- I ask you). Today in my professional capacity I happened to taste a very good Prosecco, and on the publicity sheet accompanying I noticed that the supplier boasted this wine was "100% Glera."

I was surprised, and asked the sales rep for clarification. "What does this mean, 'glera'?"

"That's the grape of prosecco," the beautiful young woman explained. Really, she was -- from the perfectly cut longish blond hair to the sun-washed complexion to the elegant jawline and chin to the mouthful of perfect white teeth, all strong full molars in the back and charmingly "off" but still straight white front teeth, -- to the chic beige-cream-and-blue top and jacket and the perfect makeup, all cream and subtlest gold eyes, brows, and beige-pink lips. One looks at oneself all in workaday black and thinks, I must get out of retail at some point.

Anyway I gaped not only at the beautiful young woman but at the information. "Glera" is the grape of Prosecco? "Good grief,"  I said. "I have been telling people for years that Prosecco is a grape. How embarrassing."

"Most Italian wines are named for a place, not a grape," the young woman explained gently.

I looked at the bottle I had just sampled. There on the label was "Prosecco D.O.C.," the D.O.C., standing for Denominazione Origine Controllata, being a dead giveaway that this is indeed a place, a denomination of controlled origin.  

Embarrassing. Think of all the customers I had misled, all the savvy ones being kind to me and not pointing out my ignorance. Where had I got my misinformation?

I went home and consulted old books. They all told me: prosecco is a grape, although it is also the name of a D.O.C. renowned for prosecco-making, and therefore cleverly called "Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene." Prosecco, the grape, "is also known as Balbi, Glera, Serprina, and Tondo" (The New Wine Lover's Companion, 2003).

Enter the source wine-pages, which, no less than five years ago, told us that the prosecco grape had had its name changed to glera, "one of its historic regional names."  Also that the old D.O.C. region of Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene had been legally upgraded to D.O.C.G. status -- G for garantita, meaning that prosecco wines made there would be subject to more rules which would in turn guarantee the customer was getting a more refined product -- and that a "large" area around the new D.O.C.G. would also get an upgrade to D.O.C. status and now be called simply "Prosecco D.O.C." If the prosecco grape was grown and vinified outside these two still-traditional regions, then it would be called "Glera." All this, wine-pages said in 2009, was done by real Prosecco makers to insure that growers of prosecco outside its traditional areas would not be able any more to bandy the famous name about as if they were within hailing distance of the Veneto (the part of Italy near Venice).  

So I am glad to know that I have not been misleading people for five years, but also a little embarrassed not to have known about these interesting legal changes until they are five years in the bag. Still. As soon as I learn anything vital, I am glad to pass it on to my fatheads, and no offense taken I hope.

Now off to bed, and to the opera. "In a tearing hurry,
"Yours ever."

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