Imagine it’s an autumn afternoon and you are sitting in a piazza facing Venice’s Grand Canal. What could be better than sipping a Bellini as you watch the Italians pacing the streets and gondoliers paddling through the canals? As the sun begins to set, the Venetian air is crisp and the sky is the same color as the nectar fit-for-gods in your glass. As you imbibe this fresh peach drink you are instantly transported back in time to when Truman Capote, Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welle’s sat at Harry’s Bar and toasted with this cocktail and others.
The Bellini was created in 1948 by Giuseppe Cipriani of Harry’s Bar in the city famous for its canals and bridges. The classic drink was named after the 15th century Venetian painter, Giovanni Bellini, who supposedly colored saints togas with the pinky peach hue. This old-fashioned bar is a national landmark where the waiters wear white suits with black bow ties is warmly lit with dark mahogany tables and chairs.
Walking the streets and bridges of Venice you can easily find pre-made mixes for Bellinis but they are extremely simple to make yourself. According to the barmen at Harry’s, the drink is one part white peach purée to three parts Prosecco, served ice cold in a chilled Champagne flute. Be careful that your drink does not include peach schnapps!
The traditional recipe calls for only white peaches but using regular peaches can be a nice twist on the original and provides a more intensely flavored cocktail. For a tart flair add a few drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Peel and blend enough white peaches for 1 cup white peach purée. 2-3 peaches should yield about a cup of purée. Harry’s claims it is better to use cheese shredder than a blender, as it adds too much air to the fruit. But in order to save time, a blender will do the trick. Pour the purée into a pitcher and add 3 cups Prosecco. Stir gently so as not to kill the bubbles. Try seltzer water for an non-alcoholic version. If the drink is too tart, you can add simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water, simmered in a saucepan until dissolved). This will make 2-3 drinks.
The Venetians didn’t have to look very far when they were searching for bubbly to create this drink. Some of the best regions which produce one of Italy’s best sparkling wine are just a few steps away. Prosecco is produced with a grape that used to be called by the same name, however due to reforms and legislation the grape is now called Glera. In addition, now only winemakers of a certain area in the Veneto region that grow these grapes can call their wine Prosecco.
Prosecco is similar to Champagne but produced differently. The secondary fermentation takes place in stainless steal tanks instead of a bottle like France’s famous bubbly.
The towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene produce perky Proseccos which often have aromas of pear, apple, citrus, with light floral and vegetal notes. Straw yellow in color, these sparkling wines are often medium to full body wines.
- Conegliano Prosecco Superiore Extra Dry Ariò – L’Antica Quercia (100% Glera)
- Valdobbiadene Prosecco Val d’Oca Millesimato – Val d’Oca (100% Glera)
- Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Brut Vecchie Viti Millesimato – Ruggeri (90% Glera, 6% Verdisio, 2% Perera)
Hanging on to the last of the summer fruits, this cocktail makes a perfect fall aperitivo at a BBQ. While it might not be the Venetian air you breathe in as you sip your drink, let the Bellini evoke Venice in your own backyard!
Have you ever sipped on a Bellini? Tell us about your experience!