Thursday, August 30, 2012

My White Trash Italian Cousins

They are those little secret shames, lurking in our lives. Sometimes they are in our face. Sometimes they dwell in a state of hibernation. They never really go away, no matter how far one may move or if you change phone numbers to get away from them. They always seem to resurface, insinuating themselves into your life. We all have them, those white trash Italian cousins.

Tuscan Superiority Complex
One I try to avoid is the hefty, overweight and equally overbearing red, posing as a Super Tuscan. Weighing in at an elephantine 15% and from genetically purified "indigenous" Cabernet and Merlot grapes. Syrah is also triaged in, an homage to his inner libertarian. This wine would squeeze the moisture from my palate as easily as emptying my wallet of hard-earned cash. If not, he’d just as soon take it from an unsuspecting aunt. In any case, this one sucks all the air out of the room and in no way reflects anything Tuscan, let alone Italian. Meet Jingo, the 900-pound white supremacist elephant in the room. Especially present at funerals and occasional family gatherings, especially where there is  free cake and refreshments served in mason jars.

Elephant man above has a mate; a shrill, acidic white from over-pressed and undernourished vines. This one likes to claim she descended from ancient nobility. Maybe her pasty white character did, which might explain why this wine attempted to rise up in the 1980’s. But her rise was a Roman candle that was a dud. All we got was sulphur and acid, and the pale skin went anemic after a few years from early-oxidative syndrome.

From Bimini to Bracciano - a Bermudian love triangle
Another cousin, a red with no backbone, is the opposite of the shrill one. No, he’s a little lame, talks with a twang, is kind of slow and dopey. He’s not officially Tuscan; he’s in that no-man’s land between Tuscany, Lazio and Umbria. He’s been spoofulated, micro-oxygenated, centrifuged and deep-purpled and still he has no character other than a dopey little schoolboy act he picked up when he was in juvenile hall. He goes under many IGT aliases such as Lazio, Umbria or Toscana, depending on where he was last arrested. He is insipid and stupid and only his momma loves him, but even she’s keeping her distance.

Moscato d’ Wherever
Older sister, by a few months past nine, is bubbly but vacuous. She is light and sweet in a sickly way. She tends to peter out early and fall asleep, but while she is awake (and it is early enough) she is the life of the party. Problem is, the only others at the party are her messed up family, so there really is no one to “party” with. But that doesn’t stop her, at least not until she runs out of bubbles.

Vino da (under the Tuscan) Tavola
Big brother, he really should have never been made into wine. Maybe table grapes or grapes for jelly. He’s a lumbering sfuso of a guy, cousin "Not It". Not as goofy as his younger brother, but mopey and unlucky in love. So no blending for this big boy. The only problem is he’s really not much on his own. So, not a lot of vision or reason to why he decided to become a wine. But there he is, lumbering and unlucky, a fish out of water, and a red that would be better off mingling with pectin than yeast.

Valle Popinae Baby let me follow you down
Lastly, there is the gray old lady. She has been around so long she seems to have arrived at a state of accomplishment from her many years on the vine. In reality it is utter exhaustion from lying down on the job all these millennia. Her life has seen some of the most transforming events in the last 2000 years, but you wouldn’t know it from the wine that came from her vats. It was as if the last 60-70 years, the life and changes all around went right over her, untouched (that would have been the only thing that was). She became a wine that was left in the cellar, forgotten, and her claim to fame is that she was left, standing, sitting, lying, whatever. The problem was it dried out her cork many years ago. She’d make a nice match with some olive oil and lettuce, but that’s about it.

Yes, Italy has white trash cousins and wines to go with it. Some of them are hard to digest let alone be in the same room with, even at the occasional viewing or funeral. There’s an old saying, “You can’t choose your family, but you can choose your poison.”

Pass the Centerba, per piacere.

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