Hello Kitty may not be a cat (seriously), but she is a wino.
Sanrio, the company that created the character, teamed up with Torti Winery in Italy to make a line of Hello Kitty wine. Good thing Hello Kitty is old enough to drink. (Sanrio introduced the character more than 40 years ago, which puts her well above the drinking age.)
Patrizia Torti, whose family owns the winery, said some people from Sanrio tasted her family's wine at a restaurant, then contacted her to produce a Hello Kitty wine. Her family has been setting aside some of its harvest to make wine for Sanrio under a Hello Kitty label for the company's European and Asian markets since 2007. As of now, the wine is available at a single SoCal restaurant — Antonello Ristorante in Santa Ana.
The Torti family is using a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to make a sparkling Hello Kitty rosé, and Pinot Noir grapes only to make a sparkling Hello Kitty white wine. And according to Torti, every grape is picked by hand.
"My father and my sister take care of the production, from the soil to picking the grapes," said Torti. "We produce a special bottle with a heart, only for Hello Kitty." She says that the wines are not a limited-edition item and she and her family plan on making a lot more, as well as expanding distribution.
You can find the Hello Kitty wines by the bottle and by the glass at Antonello Ristorante. Customers can also buy bottles to go.
Antonello Ristorante owner Antonio Cagnolo created an entire menu to accompany the Hello Kitty wine, available Oct. 12
"We worked diligently with the Sanrio people to pick and choose the right combination of food for the special wine," said Cagnolo.
Menu highlights include watermelon shaped like Hello Kitty, served with microgreens, feta cheese and honey; a pink bowtie pasta with a four-cheese alfredo sauce; and a flourless chocolate cake shaped like Hello Kitty.
5:41 p.m.: This article was updated with a new opening date for the dinner series.