In 1949 the city of Venice hosted an impressive exhibition about the late Renaissant painter Giovanni Bellini (1430 – 1516), teacher of Giorgione and Tetian as well as brother in law of Andrea Mantegna.
To honour such a big personality and to celebrate the exhibition, the owner of the famous Harry’s Bar of Venice – located very close St. Marks’s square, along the Grand Canal – named Giuseppe Cipriani, created a new cocktail aiming at reproducing the sweet pastel shades of the painter’s palette. Therefore, he decided to mix some fruits with sparkling wine. A new Cocktail was born: Bellini
This drink is very fresh, mostly loved by women although men like it also being pretty refreshing and sweet, fit for a nice, glamorous and romantic aperitivo. Although you might have to wait a little longer before travel again to Italy, there are no impediments for you to make your own Bellini at home, being all the ingredients available worldwide nowadays.
Just a quick note for you: Bellini Cocktail is usually made with Champagne or Prosecco. However, since I was born and raised in another wine area of Italy, called Piedmont, in north-west Italy, which is home to an immense variety of wine, I decided to change a little bit the original recipe by using a wine from my area: the Asti Secco Docg.
Most of you might be familiar with Asti Dolce that is well sold worldwide by big brands, such as Martini, or Cinzano, which is the sweet version of it. I use the dry type, made with the traditional method, involving a 3 years timeframe to produce a single bottle, called Asti Secco. Don’t feel this is a detail. It really makes the difference.
The recipe for is very easy and quick and requires a very limited set of ingredients:
- 1 peeled peach, deprived of the bone
- 1 tablespoon of raspberries
- 15 cl of Asti Secco Docg
Put ¾ of the peach and the raspberries in a blender until you get a homogenous mash. Pour it in a flute glass and add Asti Secco Docg wine up to the rim of the glass. Garnish with a peach slice, if you like. Drink it.
Bellini cocktail is no exception to the Italian tradition of serving the Aperitivo with some snacks. Given the sweetness of the drink, Bellini is usually paired with savoury bites such as brine green olives and a set of the Venetian “cicchetti”. These are simple slices of bread, cut diagonally from a baguette looking bread, garnished in dozens of ways such as dry tomatoes and cream cheese, salami, roasted pepper and anchovies, ham and cheese and so on…you just have to free your creativity here.
I do usually prepare a “Cicchetti board” to share them with my friends before sitting for dinner and I add a side board with a big slice of Parmigiano Reggiano of Grana Padano Cheese, so that everyone can break pieces as they like with the cheese breaker.