Sipping on Hello Kitty Wine

by Robyn Wyman-dill

Hello and welcome to 2017. Shall we commence with a quick reality check before we cultivate ourselves. As kind of a warm-up to the New Year.

Marking this calendar week, we have the raging United States of Russian relations and a storming Helena – spreading ice and snow across our vast nation. Like old
man winter sweeping across Red Square. Meanwhile, a cold, cold war – in the words of Nobel for Literature-Elect Bob Dylan ‘is blowing in the wind.’ (Does anybody really know when Bob Dylan is going to accept the award?) Okay. If life insists on imitating art badly, may I recast my presidential vote in favor of Princess Leia, posthumously, before it’s too late. She is someone who has proven to me that she can guide a ship to greener pastures with the goodness in her heart, a light saber by her side and a sassy sense of humor. Thank you, Carrie Fisher, for inspiring girls like me to think large. May the force be with you and your unsinkable mother, Debbie Reynolds. Salute. Cin cin. I raise my glass to you, sipping on Hello Kitty sparkling white wine…from the Lombardy region of Italy. Made with love by the Torti family.  At last.

The marriage of the 106 year-old Italian winery and the Japanese Sanrio Company (who created the Hello Kitty character in 1974, and much like Disney’s Mickey Mouse, launched a global empire with the penning of a cute cartoon character) is shaped by destiny. And, it involves food.

The tale of these two companies began when Torti wine was ordered by some members of the Hello Kitty team with dinner. Simply put, it was love at ‘first sip.’ Which waltzed the companies right into a partnership.

In October 2016, the partners proudly presented their Hello Kitty wine collection to members of the SoCal press at Antonello’s Ristorante & Enoteca Lounge in Santa Ana. While this is not a recent newsflash, you are now among a choice few who know the collection is in the US.

Historically, the Torti company only sold their wine in Italy. But, as a member of the Torti clan explains, “It is the right time for us to grow – without sacrificing quality.” Torti has reportedly been allotting grapes for this project since 2007. Known for their pinot nero grapes, the family business cultivates chardonnays, sparkling rosés, pinot nero and sparkling whites.

To introduce the Hello Kitty sparkling wines label, Antonello Ristorante & Enoteca Lounge and Sanrio, architects of the Hello Kitty kingdom, hosted a dinner, bringing the brands and cultures together.

Fourth-generation Winemaker, Patrizia Torti, whose family has been involved in the creation of their wines for the last 109 years, flew in for the West coast debut. And despite a lot of engagements and a long flight, she was as vivacious as the Hello Kitty Sweet Pink she drinks. And, in the spirit of a true Italian, throughout the night Patrizia toasted to all things bubbly – especially the joy of living.

In the old-world Tuscan ambience of Antonello with its Italian hospitality-infused enoteca lounge, a room of people felt like family. The exuberance for life from the Italian sector was really well-suited for the Hello Kitty congregation – who came dressed for the occasion in some playful, Hello Kitty fashion. Fashion that spoke for itself and for them too.

Now, who would have guessed a white cartoon bobcat, born in the suburbs of London, that stands five apples tall would become a megastar. Yet, the Hello Kitty Japanese phenomenon has endured for the last 40 years and earns somewhere in the order of $7 billion a year.

Products range from dolls, stickers, greeting cards, clothes, accessories, school supplies and stationery to purses, toasters, televisions and other home appliances. Add massagers, computer equipment, Kitty Face checking accounts, Hello Kitty Stratocaster electric guitars and an Airbus A330-200 commercial passenger jet airliner. The Hello Kitty plan is to continue to widen their reach with products aimed at older audiences.

At the Zagat-rated restaurant in South Coast Plaza, Antonello serves Northern Italian fare and it is sumptuous – starting with insalata d’anguria(sliced seedless watermelon drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and fig balsamic, topped with feta cheese), followed by farfalle alfredo(Beet infused bowtie pasta in a creamy alfredo sauce), and then manzo brasato(braised boneless beef short ribs served with saffron risotto) which were complimented by Hello Kitty rosé, Cupido, Sweet Pink, Charmy and Lady wines. Flourless chocolate cake in the shape of Hello Kitty was the finale. I purred when I ate mine and drank my wine. That’s amore.

The bottle design, delicate taste, and novelty of Hello Kitty Wines, make them the perfect gift. But, if you are thinking of provoking a loved one to purr, especially on Valentine’s Day, you need to plan ahead. This is coveted wine. The collection can be ordered online and at specialty wine and grocery channels – listed below. They are also served exclusively at Antonello Ristorante.

More to come.

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