In years past, this would be the season when we’d be bombarded with recipes for old-fashioned wine drinks—cobblers, possets, syllabubs, nogs, neguses, and other concoctions from colonial times, involving a fair amount of fuss and an excess of calories, basically complicated appetite-suppressants, not worth the trouble.
At a party in Italy this summer, I did discover a wine drink that is worth a try, an interesting aperitif—what the British refer to as a “sharpener.” It was called a Negroni “sbagliato,” which translates to “incorrect Negroni,” although it’s closer to an Americano (old bartenders never die, they just become pedantic with age). It’s a mix of 1 ounce of Campari and 1 ounce of sweet (red) vermouth, stirred with an ice cube to mix well and chill, then strained into 3 ounces of chilled Prosecco; a twist of lemon peel is optional, and not bad. The vermouth slightly mitigates the bitterness of the Campari; it’s a bracing drink, good with snacks or before a meal.
(Trivia note: Ian Fleming loved Negronis, and originally made that James Bond's drink of choice, but his publisher thought it was too offbeat, and had him change it to Martinis.)