The Amazing Aperol Spritz

Friday, July 31, 2015

When we were in Italy a few weeks ago we were staying at this hotel that featured a hip assortment of wine-driven cocktails. The host/bartender, Enzo, buzzed around the place and easily convinced guests to try the interesting drinks on the menu.

One drink in particular caught my eye with its gorgeous orange color: The Aperol Spritz.

Whereas a "white wine spritzer" in the United States often involves combining cheap white wine with Sprite or 7-Up, an Aperol Spritz is a combination of Proescco (an Italian sparkling white wine), Aperol (a unique bitter apertif), and soda water. See the recipe below. 3, 2, 1. Easy.

It's relatively simple to capture the [gorgeous] color of Aperol in a photo. But describing its flavor is more difficult. While it looks like it's going to taste like some kind of creamsicle orange soda, it actually most notably imparts crisp grapefruit peel aromatics to the drink. On its own you'll detect a broader range of aromatics like sandalwood, and herb root. It's really intriguing stuff.

When combined with a fruity sparkling white wine like Prosecco and soda water in the right proportions, an Aperol Spritz is brilliantly refreshing summer treat.

Aperol itself is 11% alcohol, which isn't too far off from the 11% Ninety+ Cellars Lot 50 Prosecco I enjoyed it with tonight. Poured over ice with some club soda and you've got a terrific low alcohol refreshing summer sipper.

Shopping List

Aperol - looks like you can find it for around $20/btl at most liquor stores. I paid $28.99 at my nearest liquor store.

Prosecco - any kind should do, within reason. I found the 90+ Cellars for $10.99 at my local grocery store.

Club Soda - in Italy they used water that was carbonated with a device that added bubbles on the fly. Club soda should suffice. I guess you could make it with Sprite if you wanted it sweeter, but try it with Club soda first.

Ice - get plenty of nice ice cubes unless you've got an ice making setup you're happy with.

Orange - slices for garnish.

Wine Glasses - or a big rocks glass.
Black Straws - for optimal photogenic high style (I haven't got any yet).


Over ice
3 parts Prosecco
2 parts Aperol
1 part soda water


  1. Don't overdo it with the Aperol. Although it looks great it can get too bitter.
  2. Add plenty of ice.
  3. Make sure the Prosecco is well chilled.
  4. Garnish with orange slices.
  5. Enjoy!


A Gorgeous Brut Rosé Prosecco

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Lunch at Preludio in Cortona, Italy
I'm the last guy you want to consult for advice on sparkling wine.

Unless you're like me and gravitate towards bold, fruit forward new world reds with underlying acidity and luscious appeal. And you're looking to change things up a bit this summer while the temperatures are high.

Last summer while visiting Tuscany we stopped in at Ristorante Preludio in Cortona for lunch. The restaurant was listed in the Gambero Rosso according to information provided by the villa where we were staying (review). But other than us, the place was empty from the beginning of our meal through the end.

Complimentary quail egg amuse-bouche 
The meal was amazing. So much for the theory that you should select crowded restaurants as part of a follow the herd mentality.

The meal started off with a complimentary pour of a delicious sparkling rosé. In my experience I've found that yes - starting off with bubbles is a great way to set the stage for an enjoyable evening. But some dry sparkling wines are too yeasty and hard to enjoy. I find that sparkling rosé is a perfect crowd-pleasing alteration.

I snapped a picture of the bottle, hoping to track some down back home. I've looked around at a few wine shops but haven't seen it. Wouldn't you know, carries it? And it's not too expensive - $16.99 here in MA ('s prices and availability vary by state) before $30 off $100. For less than $12/btl fully loaded this is a spectacular wine.

I ordered a bottle recently and enjoyed it here at home nearly as much as I did at Preludio. Just wanted to make sure I wasn't under the ether of Italy when assessing it initially. It's a fabulous, totally elegant way to start the evening. Crisp and fruity. Delicate but full of flavor. Highly recommended.
Jeio Prosecco Brut Rose
I wish we could have stayed longer and enjoyed our meal in a more relaxing manner, but we were off to Tenuta Sette Ponti and had to hustle. But don't you worry, Cortona, I'll be back. And I may spend a night or three.

To buy this on through my affiliate link:
Bisol Jeio Prosecco Brut Rose

Without an affiliate link:

Follow the tips in this post to get $30 of $100 at


2012 Ridge Lytton Springs for less than $21 fully loaded [MA only?]

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Stack this good pricing with $30 off $100 to get a $35+ wine for $21 is running 2 concurrent promo codes that provide $30 off $100+ orders:
  • DISCOVER30A (expires 9/30/2015)
  • WINEAMX (expires 10/9/2015)
As you'd guess from the naming convention, these deals are joint promotions with Discover and American Express. But they work a little differently than other offers. Rather than resulting in a statement credit on your credit card, the discount is triggered at the time of ordering.

So if you don't see the discount, don't place the order. In my experience you don't actually need to use an AmEx or Discover for the codes to work. You just need to have precisely $100 or more to trigger the discount.

The key to maximizing the deal is to find wines you enjoy at good prices and avoid shipping costs.

I noticed has the 2012 Ridge Lytton Springs on sale for $29.99 in Massachusetts. Inventory varies by state, but here's how I'd work it to get a great deal on this terrific wine. I just opened a bottle and it is outstanding.

Step 1: Go through a portal (optional)

Start your shopping by checking to get some extra cashback on your purchase. You can get around 5% off your order as cashback through a portal this way.

Step 2: Select your wines

The idea is to hit $100 without too much overshoot. For example, add 3 bottles of the 2012 Ridge Lytton Springs for $29.99 and one bottle of $10.01 or more wine. Like this 2012 Clos de los Siete for $13.99. Inventory varies by state. Ping me if you'd like some help finding good deals in your state.

Step 3: Sign up for a Stewardship free trial

Stewardship is's equivalent to Amazon Prime. You get free shipping for a year, but you can also get a free trial for a month. If you've ordered from in the past, try signing up with a new email address to get a new free trial.

Step 4: Place up to two orders

The nice thing about there being 2 promo codes is that each can be used once per email address. So you can place 2 orders (ideally for just over $100) one with each promo code for each email address.

Step 5: Cancel Stewardship

To make sure you're not billed for a year of Stewardship, cancel your trial after placing your last order. This could be 1 or 3 - but be sure to cancel.


This can be a great deal, if you know how to optimize it. Lytton Springs for less than $21 fully loaded is a tremendous deal.

Question of the Day: What wines have you found that work well with this deal?


Deal Alert: Bodegas Juan Gil Variety Pack [MA Only]

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Boston-area retailer Bin Ends Wine is offering a mixed case of wine from Gil Family Estates for $79.20 ($6.60/btl). If you like the Silver-labeled 12 Month Juan Gil proper (the mind-bendingly good QPR red I discovered years ago at The Capital Grille) this is a great opportunity to explore other offerings from Gil Family Estates.

These wines normally sell for around $10-$12/btl. I've tried most of them. Although none of them quite rise to the level of excitement Juan Gil Silver does, they are solid wines and a great low-risk way to explore the wines of Spain from an outstanding producer.

Expect contemporary, distinctive labels. Old world grapes crafted in a luscious new world style. And great value.

When I visited Spain a couple years ago Juan Gil was often sold out at local restaurants. In contrast, when I visited Italy a couple weeks ago I saw Santa Margherita in supermarkets for 7.99 Euro (as opposed to the $20 it sells for here). My point: In Spain the locals like Juan Gil as much as we do. They make tremendous wines at compelling price points.

I was so taken by the Juan Gil wines I wanted to start a Juan Gil blog. Or at least take this space over for an entire month dedicated to the subject. Call it "Juanuary!". I regularly use the #JuanGilFanClub hashtag on Twitter. Clearly I've got enthusiasm for the producer, and you should to.

Click here to check out the offer

I'd love it if you subscribed to the WWP for future updates.


Visiting Allegrini's Villa della Torre

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Villa della Torre c. 1560
We're just back from Italy where we tasted at Allegrini's Palazzo della Torre vineyard. I've seen the Allegrini label around for years but it wasn't until tasting their wines at Wine Spectator Grand Tour Dallas that I mentally put the location of Valpolicella and Amarone on the map.

Valpolicella is situated just north of Verona and makes for a perfect day trip pairing. We were staying on nearby Lake Garda and were able to visit both on the same day with ease.
Valpolicella is between Milan and Venice, just east of Lake Garda
Allegrini is a high quality, high volume producer. We had our kids with us so we were looking for an informal visit that we didn't need an appointment for. Villa della Torre hit the spot.

Allegrini has other projects in other parts of Italy but we chose to focus on their local offerings, which meant Valpolicella and Amarone.
Allegrini's lineup: Valpolicella, Valpolicella Ripasso, and Amarone
First, a little background. Valpolicella is a place. The main grape in a Valpolicella wine is Corvina Veronese, along with Rondinella and Molinara - and some other permitted varieties. Valpolicella is typically light to medium bodied, with appealing fruit and, for me, often presents distinctive black pepper aromas.

Amarone (also known as Amarone della Valpolicella) is a bold red wine made from dried grapes. Alcohol levels are higher (often north of 15%) and the wine can be quite rich.  It invites another sip with its luscious personality balanced with acidity.

Situated between these two, price-wise and stylistically, is Valpolicella Ripasso. Made with fresh wine "re-passed" with dried grapes in a second fermentaion.


We started off tasting their two Valpolicella wines, denoted by the DOC labels around the neck of the bottle. They were terrific. My first experience with Valpolicella was on our honeymoon Mediterranean cruise. We drank an entire bottle of wine together for the first time and felt like party animals. It was "just" a cheap bottle of Bolla but I really liked the style.

These offerings from Allegrini, both the entry level and the Superiore, are solid wines I'll definitely work into the mix next time I'm looking to round out a mixed case of daily drinkers. You can find their regular Valpolicella at retailers for around $16.

Palazzo della Torre

This is a wine worth spending some time considering, having made Wine Spectator's Top 100 list 6 times. I've seen the label around forever but hadn't internalized that it is essentially a Valpolicella Ripasso but not labeled as such. It's made from 70% Corvina Veronese, 25% Rondinella, and 5% Sangiovese.

From the company's literature:

Most of the grapes are fermented as soon as they are harvested, while the rest are set aside for appassimento. In January, the pressed, dry grapes are added to the previously made wine, giving rise to a second fermentation.

It's bright and fruit forward with a hint of the stuffing that makes Amarone so appealing. It's got balanced acidity and tremendous structure that's very difficult to achieve at this price point. You can find this wine for $14.99 here in the US if you look around. I've got to try more of this on my home court - might need to nominate it to the QPR Hall of Fame. 220,000 bottles were produced and 30,000 cases were imported to the US.

The Palazzo della Torre vineyard is cited adjacent to the gorgeous Villa della Torre we visited.

La Grola and La Poja

These two wines were presented side by side, although their price points are quite different. La Grola (not to be confused with La Gerla) goes for as little as $20 here whereas La Poja sells for well north of $60. La Grola is a blend of 80% Patrimonio delle Corvine, 10% Oseleta, and 10% Syrah. La Poja is 100% Corvina Veronese. Man, I'm getting thirsty just writing about these wines.

La Poja is a big, serious, wine that competes on the international stage for acclaim.

I didn't realize the La Grola was so affordable. With a retail price of $35 and street pricing in the $20s I'd pick up a bottle of it if I saw it. I didn't take great mental notes on these two as I was both pondering the Palazzo della Torre and looking forward to the Amarone.


Tasting Allegrini's Amarone was the main reason I wanted to visit and it didn't disappoint. It is an absolutely beautiful wine. A gorgeous nose of perfectly ripened fruit with silky mouthfeel and a luscious finish that keeps inviting you back for another sip. The 2010 vintage was rated 93 points by Wine Spectator. With an $85 retail price it's not cheap, but you can sometimes find it at discounters in the $50s. More commonly in the $60s.

The 2010 Allegrini Amarone was a delight to taste, both at the winery then later at dinner at Parco San Marco on Lake Lugano. They've got a kids club there so we enjoyed dinner just the two of us on their glorious La Masseria terrace overlooking Lake Lugano. It was hot as blazes while we were visiting but the waiter chilled it down to the perfect drinking temperature for us. So good.

Villa della Torre

After our tasting I got a quick tour of Villa della Torre. Originally completed in the 1500s, it has been painstakingly restored. I especially appreciated the sight lines you'd get as you looked from an entry point of the property through aligned archways with an amazing view in the distance. Truly spectacular.

Bottom Line

A visit to Allegrini's Villa della Torre is highly recommended if you're in the area, or need a reason to be in the area. Their Amarone is a benchmark bottling you'll likely see around, and worth a splurge for a special occasion.

The Palazzo della Torre bottling is one I've seen around and should have tried sooner - it's a great QPR wine. Their Valpolicella is a textbook example, and their La Grola bottling is compelling if found in the $20-$25 range.

Visit the Allegrini website:
Follow them on Twitter: @AllegriniWine

Related Reading:
Question of the Day: What are some of your favorite Valpolicella and Amarone wines?



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