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Enjoying Wine and Beer in the Augusta GA area

Mionetto IL Prosecco Added Sparkle To Our Eclipse Party

Everyone’s looking at the eclipse with their glasses.

Mionetto IL Prosecco NV, Italy

Cost: $10-12

So what did you drink with the solar eclipse this week? Everyone seemed to have a favorite drink.

I went with some bubbly, as a celebration. What were we celebrating? I guess that the sun came back after the eclipse.

We made it a family affair, with Teri’s family joining us on our boat on Lake Thurmond. The only ones who didn’t make it were Kelly, who had to work, and my son Michael, who had some vague excuse about something to do on campus even though he doesn’t have classes on Monday afternoon. Oh, well, his loss.

None of us is a purist so we didn’t feel like we had to drive farther north in South Carolina to get the total eclipse. We were pretty close to totality, but I guess we missed out. As one friend explained, “Oh, well, if you didn’t get to totality, it just wasn’t the same. I can’t explain it, but it was different.”

We all thought it was pretty special anyway. We turned on some mellow jazz as we drifted around the lake not too far from the dam. We bought eclipse glasses in advance so we all had protection. And then we just laid around on the boat for a couple of hours.

We had a boatful: me, Teri, her daughter Erin and husband Gary, son-in-law John, and his children, Jake, Erin and Tyler. The grandchildren spent most of the time floating around in the water along with their dad. They were having a ball. I enjoyed floating along in the boat. There’s something special about being on water, and to be able to do that for an eclipse was even better.

Papa John with his little ducklings floating around him.

It was peaceful out there, even with many other boats full of people who had the same idea we had. We worried about clouds that occasionally passed over the sun, and which were all over the sky. But they stayed out of the way for the most part, and we were grateful.

The quality of the light definitely changed and we could see color in the clouds on the horizon. The air got much cooler and my friends Allen and Julie reported the frogs croaked and crickets chirped just as if it were sunset over near Bussey Point.

Looking at the sun through our protective glasses was much cooler than I thought it would be. You could see the outline of the moon passing over the sun and blacking out part of it. It was fun following the path of the moon across the sun.

This is as close as I got to an eclipse photo.

I started taking photos with my nice Canon camera, but it quickly became apparent that I wasn’t proficient enough with it to get decent eclipse photos, so I just switched to my iPhone, and it did a good job with photos of everyone on the boat.

If you want to see a couple of nice eclipse photos, look for my friend Dan’s photos elsewhere on this blog. He’s a professional.

Some friends didn’t do anything for the eclipse because they didn’t think it was a big deal. All of us on the boat would disagree, because at various times there were sighs, squeals and shouts of pure delight. There’s something about seeing one of the rarer things in creation that makes you pause and reflect on all kinds of deep things.

As for the bubbly, I brought along a bottle of Mionetto “IL” Prosecco. It’s a fun wine that you can take with you on picnics, on boat rides or to the back porch for a lazy afternoon. It’s low in alcohol and high in charm.

I popped the cap on the bottle right after the peak of the eclipse and we all toasted to the sun. (The bottle has a crown cap like a beer bottle, so it’s easy to open.) We stopped the jazz and Gary and Erin turned up the volume on “Here Comes the Sun,” on their iPhone.

Then the jazz came back and we finished the prosecco before heading back to the dock. No surprise, I probably had more of the wine than anyone else, but I love prosecco, or any sparkling wine. And I didn’t have a job to get to like the youngsters did.

Prosecco is a great wine for drinking on an occasion like this or at a picnic. It’s low in alcohol; the IL is only 10.5 percent alcohol. IL has a great flavor, soft, easy-drinking, just a touch of sweetness. And it goes with just about any food, or no food at all.

We drank from Solo cups, but if you see the wine in a glass, it is straw colored with plenty of bubbles. There were some fruity aromas of pear and citrus. On the palate I picked up green apple and peach with a touch of minerality. There was a pleasant crisp acidity that gave it all a beautiful mouthfeel.

The grapes are glera, which used to be called prosecco, grown in the Veneto region around Venice in the northeast part of Italy. The grape was around in Roman times and is one of the oldest grapes in Italian history, and was originally named for the town of Prosecco in Friuli.

The bubbles come from the Charmat method over about 60 days, depending on acidity, residual sugar and pressure. The wine is made in a pressurized stainless steel tank, where sugar and yeast produce the bubbles before the wine is bottled.

Prosecco used to be made in the traditional method, where bubbles are produced in the bottle, but it was found the glera grapes actually tasted better with the Charmat method.

Winery: IL is made by Mionetto, one one of the oldest producers in the northeast Italy region of Prosecco. Mionetto dates back to 1887 when it was founded by Francesco Mionetto in the small village of Valdobbiadene, located just north of Venice.

At first the wine was only sold locally, usually in small casks carried by horse and buggy. Later Francesco’s two brothers joined him, and the business began to flourish. But when all three fought in WWI, the winery sustained heavy damage and wasn’t used much until after WWII.

Francesco’s grandsons, Giovanni and Sergio Mionetto, started running the winery in 1961 and began rebuilding. Sergio was the first to introduce the Charmat method to the region.

In Prosecco, wineries traditionally do not own their own vineyards and must rely on relationships with vineyard owners for a supply of quality grapes. Many of the farmers working with Mionetto have been working with the company for 40 years, and some go back generations.

IL was first exported to the United States in 2002 and became an instant hit. Il means “the” in Italian, and it did become The Prosecco.

Mionetto produces five Proseccos, a Lambrusco, a Moscato and a bottled cocktail called IL Ugo. The top end wine is a single-vineyard Prosecco Valdobbiadene di Cartizze DOCG that sells for about $35.

Goes with: Anything. It’s perfect with everything from lobster to potato chips.

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