Spring Longing and Strofilia Rose – Harry Glockler, Bartender at Borsalino Bar


Spring Longing and Strofilia Rose

Harry Glockler, February 2018

The ancient Greek tragedian Euripides once said that ‘both to the rich and poor, wine is the happy antidote for sorrow’.

Let me begin by stating that I am far from an expert on the topic of wine and even less on the specific category of Greek rose wine. This blog entry contains a few thoughts that come to mind while slowly sipping and enjoying a case of Strofilia dry rose, sometimes alone, sometimes in the charmed company of others; although it could be argued that with a bottle of wine at one’s side, blushing and full of promise, one is never alone. I hope these words will be of some interest to the thinking drinker.

Whether it is as pale as an onion’s skin or a vivid pink, rose wine may be the oldest known type of wine. It is wine pressed soon after harvest. The Agiogitiko and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes that become Strofilia Dry Rose are crushed and pressed for one night only. Indeed, rose wine is the child of a night of skin contact.

From the poems of Percy Shelly to the songs of Franz Schubert, the idea of longing for Spring is very important to the arts and literature, particularly to artists of the Romantic era. For instance, at the end of the Ode to the West Wind, Shelly asks the Wind the rhetorical question, ‘If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?’ This is a wonderful line of optimism: Shelley uses the changing of the seasons as a metaphor to reassure us that even in dark and lonely moments, there will light and joy ahead.

Leonard Cohen articulated this idea in the song Anthem. ‘There is a crack in everything,’ he whispered in his deep, resonant voice, ‘that’s how the lights get in.’ Reflecting on the meaning of these words, Cohen said:

‘It’s the position of the man standing up in the face of something that is irrevocable and unyielding and singing about it. It’s the sort of position Zorba the Greek took; that when things get really bad, you just raise your glass and stamp your feet and do a little jig and that’s about all you can do.’

Also in the 20th century, one recalls the Bill Evans record You Must Believe in Spring. It was composed in the aftermath of Evans’ wife and brother having both taken their own lives and at a time when he was struggling with drug and alcohol addiction himself. In a duet with Tony Bennett on their second record Together Again, Bennett sings:

‘When lonely feelings chill
The meadows of your mind
Just think if Winter comes
Can Spring be far behind?’

Earlier in Ode to the West Wind, Shelley implores the Wind to blow his melancholy away: ‘Drive my dead thoughts over the universe / like wither’d leaves to quicken a new birth!’ The Wind is also a forceful presence in Schubert’s song Frühlingssehnsucht (Spring Longing), based on a poem by Ludwig Rellstab. The singer finds himself surrounded by extraordinary natural beauty but he feels melancholy and unsatisfied until his beloved can ‘free the Spring in my breast’. He will follow the Wind ‘on the path you blow’.

One way of relinquishing the Winter blues is to heed the advice of Euripides. Can Strofilia Dry Rose Wine, with its bright rose colour and its fresh flavour, be the Wind to help us see life in happier hues: La Vie en Rose, so to speak?

Certainly John Milton believed wine to be a cure for melancholy: ‘One sip of this will bathe the drooping spirits in delight / Beyond the bliss of dreams. Be wise, and taste.’ And taste we must! One sip of the Strofilia rose reveals the sweet flavour of Doncaster butterscotch in pas de deux with the slight herbal taste of green pepper often found in wines that use Cabernet Sauvignon. But it is the aroma that is most striking. Drinking can be a great sensory experience but it can also be introspective and facilitate memory or imagination. When I smell Stofilia dry rose I am reminded of the raspberry bushes of the English countryside, where I went for long walks as a child. Closing my eyes I can almost see Madame Ranevky’s cherry orchard in the provincial Russia of Anton Chekhov.

Such a fragrance reminds one of the classic cocktail The Rose. The recipe below is my adaptation of Harry MacElhone’s from Barflies and Cocktails. Despite its name, the drink contains dry vermouth not rose wine. But the name is a perfect evocation of the appearance, flavour and style of the cocktail. It is fragrant, delicate and tastes like a dream of holding hands with one’s beloved in a rose garden.

The Rose

45 ml dry vermouth

15 ml Kirschbrand (cherry eau-de-vie)

1 barspoon (5 ml) raspberry liqueur

Stir in a mixing glass with ice cubes, strain into a small cocktail glass

Garnish with cherry blossom (Sakura)

‘In these Spring days,

when tranquil light encompasses

the four directions,

why do the blossoms scatter

with such uneasy hearts?’

Ki no Tomonori, early Heian Waka poet

The following recipe is an original creation of mine to welcome Spring, using Strofilia Dry Rose. It is simple to prepare since it can be mixed directly in the serving glass. It is also easy to drink, being low in alcohol because of the pink grapefruit soda. It will appeal to those who enjoy gin & tonic, rose wine, pagans and Stravinsky fans alike.

Rite of Spring

100 ml Strofilia Dry Rose Wine

20 ml London Dry Gin

Stir with ice cubes in a highball or wine glass

Top up with Three Cents Pink Grapefruit Soda

Garnish with a twist of grapefruit peel and a rose petal

The Romantic poets surely had Zephyrus in mind when they personified the West Wind. In mythology, he is the messenger of Spring who falls in love with Chloris, the Nympth associated with flowers: ‘As she talks, her lips breathe Spring roses’ wrote Ovid. Aphrodite gave Chloris beauty; it was Dionysus, God of Wine, who gave her a nectar of intoxicating aroma. I have one bottle of Stofilia dry rose wine left in my fridge. On the first day of Spring I intend to go to the octagonal Tower of the Winds in Athens and raise a glass in joy and thanks to the West Wind!

Spring Longing and Strofilia Rose – Harry Glockler, Bartender at Borsalino Bar