THIS weekend – Always the last weekend of May will be the nationwide Cantine Aperte in Italy …….
This is one day we DON’T work! We use part of the day to go to new cantine that we usually don’t have time to visit normally in Umbria. The latter part we go local – so we can get home easily!
So, if you’ve never been, how do you go about it? I’m here to tell you how!
This is an event for everyone! There’s amazing wine, great food, entertainment galore, picnics in the vineyards, jazz in the barrel rooms … What’s not to like?
There is, in our opinion, one thing not to like, and that’s the more popular cantine are BUSY, really BUSY! This can be a lot of fun, please don’t misunderstand us! But, consider parking at the very least! We like to go to the smaller, more out the way cantine and that way we can consider it work! It’s research, of course!
Last year we found a gorgeous cantina with our friends; pretty, friendly, great wines, great food to go with the wines, and they can do lunches too. A real find! (No, not tellin’ where!) We added them to our growing list of gorgeous places to visit on our wine tours!
Our advice is twofold – one, choose a cantina on the Saturday night and go for a wine-pairing extravaganza – You will have to book in advance. This is a relatively new development here in Umbria, but we have experienced these long, slightly chaotic, enormously fun dinners and we thoroughly recommend them!
Two, think about an AREA you would like to concentrate on – if you are in Umbria, for instance, it’s on the large side to be travelling all over the joint on one day.
E.G. Stick to the Montefalco area …. This year, there will be several cantine open for the event …. places like Perticaia, Fongoli, Fratelli Tocchi, Sant Anna ….. Bigger places like Arnaldo Caprai, Antonelli and Scacciadiavoli have good events and are usually very crowded as a result, but always fun.
Or … around Cannara … Dionigi and Di Fillipo, or Benincasa on the outskirts of Bevagna.
The organisation changes every year, so be prepared for what I say to no longer be valid this year!
You arrive at your chosen cantina and there should be a little kiosk selling the glasses with their pouches, so you can put your glass in your pouch around your neck freeing up your hands to eat the goodies offered!
What SHOULD happen is that once you buy your glass and sometimes tickets for the food and good wines, the next place you go to, you shouldn’t have to buy the glass… It doesn’t happen that way usually! We end up taking quite the collection of glasses & pouches home with us!
Some cantine organise a tasting menu lunch by reservation, of course – this isn’t something we’ve done yet, we prefer to graze from cantina to cantina!
A big favourite here is the Porchetta roll, a whole pig, boned and stuffed with delicious herbs and the liver etc, then roasted to perfection until the stuffing has infused the pork with the flavours and the crackling is beautifully crisp…..
Some places put on a buffet where you can choose different food to go with different types of wine …. perhaps a light farro and pecorino cheese salad with a crisp white Grechetto or some delicious local cured meats with a smooth Montefalco Rosso …. The Sagrantino di Montefalco pairs well with some mature cheese like Parmigiano. Some of the cantine get the grill going and there are Umbrian sausages, ribs, or even the local speciality – snails. The bruschette are drizzled with the cantinas own amazing olive oil and there are usually a selection of the fruit-jam filled crostate for dessert.
One place we visited had a great cheese tasting platter on offer – divine!
Normally there is the base red and white freely available at various points around the cantina and if you would like to have a glass of their ‘good stuff’ (come on folks, it’s ALL good!) then you get the tickets when you buy your glass. Bottled water is usually available freely too.
At most of the cantine we have visited there are regular tours of the barrel rooms, entertainment in the form of live music and we’ve seen little markets selling everything from Umbrian speciality goods to plants, herbs and flowers!
Go along to one or two of the cantine, enjoy your day and then come and let me know how you got on!