Bellini season: Two ingredients to make the perfect summer drink
Stone fruits are coming into season, ushering in peach cobblers, plum galettes and all manner of ice creams and sorbets. It’s also Bellini time.
For the uninitiated, the Bellini is the Venetian aperitivo of white peach juice and Prosecco, the sparkling wine from the Veneto. The original was invented by Giuseppe Cipriani at Harry’s Bar in Venice (not the one south of Santa Monica but the original watery city) sometime before the Second World War, but it wasn’t named “the Bellini” until 1948.
The first time I had one at Harry’s I was smitten and it didn’t all have to do with the romance of Venice. The scent of white peaches floated up from the rim. I took a sip. How lovely. How summery.
And how easy to make at home. All you need are ripe juicy peaches, a blender or juicer. The blender is easier, but unless you don’t mind peach sludge clinging to the sides of your Champagne flute, you’ll need to pass the whizzed peach through a fine strainer. And do juice the peaches well ahead.
It’s important to chill the Prosecco and the peach juice very well. If you grab a last-minute bottle of Prosecco, put it in the freezer for a while before making up the drink.
I generally don’t like mine sweetened, but if your fruit needs it, use simple syrup (a mixture of half water and half sugar heated on the stove until dissolved and then cooled) to sweeten your peach juice to taste.
I’ve tried all sorts of proportions, but the one that works best is about one-third peach juice to two-thirds Prosecco. (The original is one part peach juice to three parts Prosecco). Add the peach juice to the Champagne flute or white wine glass first and then pour the Prosecco on top. There. You’re done.
Since white peaches vary even from week to week, I generally go around the farmers market and taste all the white peaches and white nectarines before deciding what to buy. You can use yellow peaches too (but the barman at Harry’s Bar would disapprove), and in that case, I’d throw a few raspberries into the blender to give the juice a beautiful coral color.
The beautiful thing is that peach season is just getting started, time enough to make a summer’s worth of Bellinis.
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