Between March and April thousands of eggs were cracked open, often coming from hens kept in the campagna in and around the vineyards. This was nothing to do with the rebirth rite connected to Easter. And nor were they chocolate eggs with surprises inside. The whites were separated (I can remember so well sticking my fingers in the soft yellow spheres!) so that the ‘chiarate’ could be prepared: a Botte barrel of a thousand litres would need 30 beaten whites, that descending through the wine would clarify from any impurities suspended. Dragging them to sediment on the bottom, leaving just the limpid and perfumed wine behind.
The yolks became our biscuits, ciambelloni cakes, tozzetti (or the hard chewy mostaccioli if honey was added), but never, ever, cantucci!
An ancient oenological technique that of the chiarata, centuries-old, descending through the wonderful world of farmers that always had a watchful eye on health and knew how to live well with little. Disastrous to lose such people.