When it comes to the end of the year, Italians do stress. But not in the way Americans do. Italians have this thing about finishing all the stuff they’ve been procrastinating on throughout the year by the self-imposed deadline followed by at least two weeks of vacation.
Electricians, business people, artisans, and maybe even writers, just have to clean the slate before they partake in the collective carb-coma of days of Mamma’s pasta and Panettone.
This year Italians are also stressing about paying their heating bills in this war-price era. But they don’t stress about the holiday itself: what gifts to get, what to cook, and certainly not what wine to serve or bring to a holiday dinner.
When it comes to the festivities, choices are simplified. Italians eat local traditional dishes and drink the local wines. (As with Italian grammar there are always exceptions). At Christmas they break out the good stuff – a bottle of an aged Riserva (or in the case of Verona Amarone, and its sweet forefather Recioto). Of course they drink bubbles – spumante, prosecco, Lambrusco, etc., and those who can afford it drink Italy’s most universally beloved wine: Champagne.
This week my wife and I are travelling to New York for family gatherings, and I can sense already that in the first post-Covid season, Holiday Stress (New York style) is back!
Thus the urgent calls from Mom and Sis about what wines to get for Christmas dinner.
Wine stress in a place like New York (big urban center far from vineyards) stems from two things: a glut of choice in this golden age of wine, and a wrongheaded 21st century taste tribalism that’s developed in places where being on trend or avoiding faux pas is primary