17 May

Pinot Grigio Day

Bicicletta Spritz

So we are drinking a...

Bicicletta Spritz

The 17th of May celebrates Pinot Grigio (or Pinot Gris), a grape variety identified with gently acidic refreshing white wines from Northern Italy, often served in a spritz on a summer's day. However, many of the wines produced in Italy's Friuli-Venezia and Alto Adige regions are more heavyweight, as are Pinot Gris from New Zealand and Oregon in the USA.

Usually greyish-blue, Pinot Grigio grapes can be brownish-pink to black and occasionally white. Similarly, the grapes' flavour ranges from ripe tropical fruit to honeyed, dry whites with zesty lemon, lime and green apples.

Seeing as Pinot Grigio Day falls in the middle of May, a month when we're already enjoying the first flush of summer (in the Northern hemisphere at least), it seems fitting to turn to this grape's sunnier side with a Bicicletta Spritz, made with a splash of Pinot Grigio.

It's also Norway's Constitution Day

Today is Norwegian National Day, which marks the signing of the Constitution of Norway this day in 1814, and its declaration as an independent nation. Although full independence was achieved only in 1905, it's today when Norwegians celebrate their nationhood.

Many Norwegians will wear their colourful regional costume, or bunad, consisting of finely tailored suits and elaborate milkmaid-styled costumes. Tens of thousands of people usually turn out to watch long parades of school children and local marching bands, many of them starting as early as 7am.

Communities around the world will be celebrating too. In Alaska, residents of the town known as "Little Norway" will be chucking herrings around, while in Stoughton, Wisconsin, there will be canoe racing.

We will eschew fish throwing, in favour of a Northern Lights cocktail, named for the Aurora Borealis, that incredible light display of charged particles in the sky, which can be seen over northern Norway on clear, dark winter nights. Rather more appetizing than herring, it is based on a blend of apple, bison vodka and anis.

This is also the anniversary of two equal rights landmarks

Today is a pretty amazing day for the USA, for this is both the anniversary of the ban on segregation in schools, and when same-sex marriage was made possible in Massachusetts.

Yep, on this day in 1954, the Supreme Court decided that an apartheid school system wasn't right or proper - although it did give the states a long-time limit to phase out school apartheid. It meant that African-American children could attend the same well-funded schools as white kids did - though that wasn't necessarily easy. When six-year-old Ruby Bridges started at her previously all-white New Orleans school in 1960, a crowd gathered outside to hurl abuse and projectiles.

And this day in 2004, after City Hall had opened at 12.01am, Tanya McCloskey and Marcia Kadish, who had been together for 18 years, became the first couple in the USA to become wife and wife.

So, all in all, today is a good day to enjoy a Fifty-Fifty Dry Martini. It's made, as the name would suggest, with appropriately equal proportions of gin and vermouth - and definitely to be served with an olive, not a twist.

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