The setting: a bustling Italian restaurant decked with large, atmospheric artwork prints and a penchant for purple. The wines: an eclectic mix of flavours and strengths. The menu: full-flavoured and filling. The company: of the best sort.
Our evening of Italian wine tasting at Sasso Enoteca Italiano in central Harrogate was a convivial and popular one. The sommelier began by pouring us all a measure of NV Prosecco Brut, an International Wine Challenge bronze medal winner, and, aware that he was addressing a group of professional translators, proceeded to apologise for his attempt at Italian pronunciation. Very light on the taste buds, this wine had a “fresh green apple nose” and served as a gentle introduction, prompting the conversation to flow with alacrity.
The Due Uve Bianco Pinot Grigio-Sauvignon IGT – as per its name a blend of two grape varieties – and the Pecorino Pasetti followed next, paired with a starter of smoked salmon terrine, marinated beetroot and horseradish crème fraîche – or asparagus with poached egg for the vegetarians. Both whites proved popular when it came to selecting a full glass to accompany the main course (pollo con salsa di funghi, zafferano e spinaci – chicken breast in a wild mushroom and saffron sauce with spinach). Lo Sbrancato Rose Il Poggione, my personal favourite from the tasting, was a fresh-flavoured rosé that also contrasted well with the richness of the main. The rosé was followed by the only red on the tasting list – Syrah Mandrarossa – with its delicious and, according to the enthusiastic menu writer, “heady perfume of hedgerow fruit and peppery spice”. Definitely a wine to sit and ruminate with.
We all enjoyed comparing the different wines and discussing their finer points over the course of the evening, whatever our level of knowledge of oenology. Some finished with dessert while others enjoyed sipping their wine; and those of us who needed to catch trains reluctantly did so.
Another interesting and enjoyable social – thank you to Charlotte for organising!