May 2008

Wine Talk: Bellini Time

Author: Krissy Cantelupe

May is here with summer soon to follow. It’s time to serve up some fun wine cocktails. One favorite? The Bellini. Perfect for a Sunday brunch, a special occasion, an afternoon at the pool, or even a little happy hour, Bellinis are always fun to share and easy to create.

The Bellini was invented in 1948 by Giuseppe Cipriani, head bartender at Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy. Frequented by the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Sinclair Lewis, and Orson Welles, the Bellini was named after the color of a toga of a saint in one of Giovanni Bellini’s paintings (15th Century). Usually the drink is made with Prosecco (an Italian sparkling wine) and fresh peach puree.

White peach puree makes the most rich Bellini—two parts chilled Prosecco to one part puree. Place the puree in a Champagne flute, then slowly pour the Prosecco over the top; stir gently. The original recipe calls for a bit of cherry juice or raspberry juice to give a rosy glow. Fresh raspberry makes an attractive garnish.

White peaches are only available certain times a year, so if fresh is out of the question, use regular fresh peaches, pureed in a blender, or even a frozen puree, although not as rich in taste.

Other variations include the use of peach Schnapps or peach vodka to give a little more zing. Fresh or frozen strawberry puree can be used to make a strawberry Bellini; garnish with a fresh strawberry. Other possibilities include raspberry, blueberry, or blackberry Bellinis. I have even seen a melon Bellini, prepared with a melon Bacardi and some fresh watermelon pureed fine, then strained.

My recommendation is to have two or three different Bellinis, or even a “Bellini bar” with chilled Prosecco and your purees. They are so easy, your guests can even make their own.

Bridal and wedding showers are great occasions for Bellinis, as well as a Mother’s Day, Memorial Day and all your spring gatherings. Have one before dinner, whether at home or out on the town. Have one for or with dessert. Bellinis are fun anytime so start pureeing!!

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