I walk in, take a vacant chair at the bar, see that the two customers to my right have their check and their plastic to-go box. By the time Elaine and Karl arrive, there will be space.
Kathy: Just you?
Dave: The whole crew is coming.
I can see a woman to my left, she is trying to decide what "whole crew" might mean, but despite my Ramones-era black leather jacket, it is very plain to see that I am not leading any kind of horde, barbarian or otherwise.
Les: French or Italian tonight?
Dave: I want some of that orange wine you were talking about last time. Do you still have it?
Les pauses, pretends to be deep in thought. I look at him in disbelief.
Les: Yes, I have it. You realize that this is "intellectual," which may not mean "enjoyable." It will probably be one of the strangest wines you've had.
Karl and Elaine arrive. I tell them the first wine will be Camillo Donati Malvasia dell' Emilia Frizzante IGT. Elaine, natch, is already hip to this wine, as it is a Dressner selection and she seems to know all of them, and she is of course game for anything, but she's dubious about Malvasia.
Elaine: It's not my favorite grape.
Dave: Wow. Clove.
Elaine: Clove and peach and ginger
Karl: Like biting into an orange seed.
Elaine: It's a very intense nose. Sometimes Malvasia reminds me of some household cleaning product. Citrasol orange spray?
Dave: There's this sort of artificial mint aroma here, too. Maybe that contributes to the "cleaning product" note.
Elaine: There should be a Malvasia-scented version of Febreze.
Karl: This is more like beer than wine. It's consistent all the way through.
Dave: Yeah, it's not exactly evolving is it? It does have a great nose.
Elaine: The finish is more interesting than the mid-palate.
We pause to view a montage of scenes from Elvis movies on the TV.
Les overhears our "cleaning product" comments and walks over.
Les: I could put out some soap scum for comparison.
Dave: It sure is orange. The color, I mean.
Elaine: This is actually pretty enjoyable, especially if you think of it as a beer rather than a wine. It's somewhere between a Lambic and a dry cider. I'd rather drink this than most beer. It's lighter, and I think it will go better with food.
Dave: (Looking up from plate of lamb sausage with mint yogurt sauce) It goes nicely with this!
Karl: What's the history of this? Is frizzante Malvasia typical in Emilia?
According to Dressner, there has been demi-sec Malvasia for some time, but Camillo Donati now makes this dry version. Camillo Donati's website doesn't appear to be available in English, and a Google search brings up a comment by a Norwegian guy who drank the Barbera version of their wine and reported that his wife thought it tasted like rat poison, and he wasn't sure he disagreed. All we know for sure is that they're organic/biodynamic, and they obviously don't believe in filtering or fining, since the Malvasia looked more like unfiltered wheat beer than sparkling wine.
The second wine on the bill was a 2006 Marco Cecchini Refosco "Rosso Autoclono." Unfortunately, we had used up all our faculties of discrimination on the Malvasia, and the most I can say is that it was very pleasant, and had all the nice ripe black cherry fruit and requisite almond scent in the nose. There was a bit of meaty funk also, which was intriguing. There was a little too much oak present for yours truly, but then that is often the case these days. I am sorry to report that I did not even once make reference (as I usually do in the presence of Refosco dal Peduncolo) to Pliny the Elder, who was a fan of Refosco and wrote about it in whatever it was people were reading instead of the Wine Advocate 2,000 years ago.