I've ordered tortellini all' ragu my all time favourite Italian dish and of course a ¼ litre of the house red wine. It sits on my table in a small carafe, illuminated by a solitary candle. This wine is a deep ruby red. The aroma is subtle, savoury, spices mixed with red plums. I take a sip. It's sharp at first but the tannins aren't strong so it feels light and easy to drink. My food arrives and I know it's going to be the perfect match. It's a basic wine with an atmosphere to match. It doesn't leave a trace down the side of the glass indicating that it's not high in alcohol. A classic easy drinking Tuscan food wine and I love it. The tasty home made tomato and meat sauce covered with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese is a true delight. I first visited the Osteria Del Neni some 5 years ago now and it hasn't changed a bit. The meal costs me 12 euros (including service). In summer you have to book a table here well in advance, but tonight I get the place more or less to myself.
The wine is different to the one I had last night in a small bar further up the valley in a town called Barga. The bar is in an ancient square and is run by a man called Marino. The atmosphere is welcoming with passing musicians dropping in to entertain you using the various instruments that hang on the walls. Here the wine is sometimes described as 'brutta'. It's rustic and raw. At the back of the bar hang the cold meats, sausages next to cheeses and bread. To receive a selection of these on a square of paper towel with a glass of the local red served from a large demijohn is simple and to some a little 'brutta', just like the wine.
I raise my glass and proposed a toast to Silvano, a friend and resident of Barga who passed away recently, he will be truly missed.