When you say N’ombra de vin...
Around Piave, the location of one of the vineyards belonging to our La Duchessa estate, as well as in the rest of the Veneto, there’s a saying with mysterious origins, which reverberates joyously alongside the local passion for good wine: “Dame n’ombra”.
Nothing else needs to be added: a glass of wine enjoyed standing up in one of Venice’s bacari, or wine bars, with a snack known locally as a cicheto, or savored in the majestic piazzas of Vicenza and Treviso. Ombra is a distinctive signal, clear and shared for that sociable moment that ranges from the tinkling of glasses to bidding farewell.
Tasting wine from glasses only came into being in recent times. Not so long ago, it was served in small, sturdy and thick glasses, which guided the hand in wine drinking. We still don’t have an explanation for this turn of phrase, and alas, we probably never will arrive at an irrefutable reason.
The expression is shrouded in myths galore. There’s the idea that it derives from the shadow projected by the glass on the table to the concept that it was coded signal at a time when drinking wine was considered to be vulgar (really?!).
It’s harder to believe in a more improbable rumor that links the motto to a nineteenth-century episode in which, due to the ruin of white grapes caused by Phylloxera, the Veneto was invaded by red wine from Puglia, which cast a shadow since it was impenetrable to light.
On the other hand, it seems that the phrase stemmed from the simple need to find a shaded spot, by a bell tower, a house or a tree, to drink wine in peace and quiet. Given the smallness of the space, the word became ombrèta… with one “t” as is the custom for the various Veneto dialects, which rarely succeed in the duel with double consonants.
Dame n’ombra, meaning “give me some shade”...