Saturday started with our small group meeting up for a quick traghetto ride from Ca’ Sagredo Hotel to the Rialto market just on the other side of the Grand Canal. The variety of fresh fish, shellfish, vegetables and fruits were fantastic. It is not, however, anything like, say, La Boqueria in Barcelona. It is smaller, but more importantly, it is not nearly as busy. It is Venice and Venetians simply are not in a hurry…ever. It was a lovely way to slowly start our Food & Wine Cruise.
When we returned to the hotel our sommelier, Mario, was there waiting for us. With degrees not only for wine, but for cheese tasting, I knew things would be interesting, but wasn’t sure how it all would play out. (Lots of lecture and not enough enjoyment makes wine and food rather dull and unexciting.) I was also a bit concerned if we might find ourselves schlepping all over Venice.
Silly me! Mario gave us a true life memory as we did our walking tour the Venetian way: We walked only a little and relaxed, enjoyed some wonderful wines and learned not only about wines, but some of the wines really found only around Venice. But more importantly, we watched the world go by while soaking just being in Venice. The three and one half hours seemed like 10 minutes.
Our first ostaria (wine bar) was only a few minutes from the hotel. We sat outside and enjoyed a Bersi Serlini Franciacorta (2004) Brut Cuvee which is a sparkling wine, which was paired with a very fresh (made that day) mozzarella and tomato combination. This was followed by a Tenuta La Ponca Tocai Friulano paired with bacala and a spicy Asiago cheese that was amazing. (Learning about cheese tasting was really very interesting.) I will spare you the tasting notes, but do consider the wines…if you can find them.
After a leisurely 1 ½ hours tasting the two wines we were off for a ten minute walk to Ostaria al Ponte, which is the oldest ostaria in Venice. The place was jam packed with people and overflowed into the street. With us huddled in a corner with a great view of the place- which looked like it came right out of the movies (not fancy, but ordinary in an extraordinary way), we were served two large wooded platters of a variety of cheeses and two more with a variety of Italian hams. In other words, “the good stuff”. We first tasted a Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso DOC Colli Orientali del Friuli (2005) which was thoroughly enjoyable and then had a wine that just stopped me.
It was Masi Serègo Alighieri Possessioni Rosso Veronese IGT (2006). I looked at Mario and said that the wine was meant to be drunk by itself. It was fine with the meats and cheeses, but to me they actually interfered with the wine. He smiled and said someone called it a “mediation wine”; one you have when you just want to relax and free your mind.
Just as a note, the wines we tasted were not expensive averaging only about 25 Euros each in the ostaria.
We all were up for tasting more, but the time flew and we needed to collect our bags and take a water taxi to the Seabourn Spirit.