Tag Archives: wine

Braised Short Ribs in Tomato Sauce

Braised Short Ribs in Tomato sauce

Braised Short Ribs in Tomato sauce

 

Braised Short Ribs in Tomato Sauce

Braised Short Ribs in Tomato Sauce

 

It’s been raining here, and I needed some comfort food to cheer me up. I made braised short ribs simmered in a tomato sauce and paired them with a Nero d’Avola. It is the flagship grape of Sicily. Mille e Una Notte translates to A Thousand and One Night and comprises predominantly of Nero d’Avola. This wine boasts violet hues and shows great concentration. The nose delivers aromas of dark fruits, blackberry, plum, savory and sweet spices, and a hint of earthiness. The mouthfeel is silky and mirrors the nose with additional flavors of dark chocolate, baking spices, hints of black pepper, nutmeg, and licorice. The finish is lingering, and this wine has the potential for long cellaring. Below is the recipe for the short ribs.

Braised Short Ribs in Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:

6 short ribs (about 3 lbs.)
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
olive oil for frying
5-6 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 (32) oz prepared plain tomato sauce
1/4 cup water
1 (26.46) Pomi strained tomatoes
Flat leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
1 lb. spaghetti or any pasta of your choice
1 handful of salt for the pasta water
Parmigiano Reggiano

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 350-degree Fahrenheit.

1. In the meantime, liberally season the short ribs with salt & pepper. In a Deutch oven on medium-high heat, heat 2-3 tbs. olive oil, sear 3 short ribs for about 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove. Sear the second batch. Remove and set aside.
2. In the same pan, add more oil if needed, sauté the garlic for 1-2 minutes, and deglaze with the wine for 1-2-minutes. Add in the tomatoes, water, parsley, and ribs. Bring to a gentle boil and turn off the burner. Cover.
3. Place the pan in the preheated oven for about 1 hour or until the meat is tender.
4. While the short ribs are cooking, bring the pasta water to a boil, and add a handful of salt. Cook according to package directions or al dente.
5. Serve with grated Parmigiano Reggiano or local Parmesan cheese.

Cook’s Note regarding Italian traditions: if you want to eat like the Italians, serve the pasta first, followed by the short ribs. Here in the US, we tend to serve them on the same plate.

While the wine and the dish were delicious on their own, a brown sauce would have made a better pairing with this outstanding wine. The acidity in the tomato sauce overpowered the wine and mellowed its flavors. Either way, the food and the wine were both super stars, but they didn’t get long together.

I hope you will give this recipe a try! I recommend this wine for a special occasion and stick with a Sangiovese-based red wine for an ideal pairing.

Happy Cooking & Sipping from Gina’s Kitchen!
Gina Martino Zarcadoolas, aka Foodiewinelover
Culinary Personality, Food & Wine Blogger
Author of the cookbook: Cuisines, Corkscrews & Cultures: https://foodiewinelover.com/product/cookbook/
Level-2 Certified world-renowned – “WSET: Wine, Spirit, Education, Trust”
Level-2 Certified Sommelier & Italian Wine Scholar Student (Unit 1 completed)
Winner of 2019 Italian Wines “Salice Salentino USA Bloggers” Award, held in Puglia, Italy
Brand Strategist

Gina’s Variation of Spaghetti & Meatballs

Pasta is better inhaled like a vacuum cleaner. It’s so much fun!

Spaghetti & Meatballs

Spaghetti & Meatballs

 

Spaghetti & Meatballs is a comforting Italian-American dish. It is not a traditional Italian dish because the Italians prefer to eat their pasta alone without the meatballs. Meatballs are known as “polpette” in Italian, and they are consumed as a tasty second course (secondo). I have many different versions of tomato sauce, and sometimes, I use Italian sausage for added richness. Today, I am sharing with you a simplified sauce that is rustic and is a crowd-pleaser. For a smoother sauce, simply pure’ the San Marzano tomatoes. This blog post is not sponsored, but I am using the brands that I like. There are times when I combine ground beef and pork, and in that instance, I don’t use the sausage. Alternatively, you can use ground turkey for a healthier version. I use seasoned breadcrumbs instead of the traditional slice of bread soaked in milk. Generally, I don’t use grated cheese, except in my Veal Meatballs with Pecorino. Put your apron on, and follow me in the kitchen. Don’t forget your glass of wine or cider! This recipe is crafted for 6-8 people depending on their appetite. You can easily divide the ingredients to feed fewer people.

 

Spaghetti & Meatballs

Spaghetti & Meatballs

 

Ingredients for the meatballs

1 ½ lbs. ground sirloin
1 ½ lbs. ground chuck
3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon oregano
½ small onion, grated
1½ teaspoons sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 large eggs
½ cup seasoned breadcrumbs, Progresso brand
1 handful of flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped, plus more for garnish

Preparation:

Mix well all the ingredients by hand (I use a glove because I have long nails) and form the meatballs using an ice cream scooper with a spring. Spray a large tray and place the meatballs on there. Bake them for 10-12 minutes in a 350-degree oven, turning them once. You can also pan-fry them in olive oil for tastier meatballs but this process is less convenient. Set aside.

Ingredients for the Tomato Sauce: 

2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 (26.46 ounces) container of Pomi -strained tomato
1 (26.46 ounces) container of Pomi – finely chopped tomatoes
1 (28 oz.) Flora’s San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pound of spaghetti
Grated Parmigiano Reggiano to taste (a lot)

Preparation:

In a large stock pot, on medium heat, heat olive oil and sauté the garlic quickly, and add the tomato paste. Stir constantly until it’s caramelized. Add the strained, chopped, and crushed tomatoes. Bring to a gently boil, stir occasionally. Add the meatballs. Lower the flame. Cover with lid tilted. Stir occasionally to avoid the sauce from sticking on the bottom. Allow 1½ to 2 hours until all the flavors marry beautifully. Toward the last 15 minutes, bring your pasta water to a boil. Add a handful of salt, and cook according to package directions. I like mine al dente so cook it for at least 1 or 2 minutes less. The best way to find out how you like it is to taste the pasta before draining it.

Mix the pasta with the sauce until every strand is coated. Serve with grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Garnish with parsley

Wine pairing suggestion:  Sangiovese-based wines such a Rosso Di Montalcino or Chianti Classico will work harmoniously with the acidity in the tomatoes.

Happy Cooking & Happy Sipping from Gina’s Kitchen!

Gina Martino Zarcadoolas, aka Foodiewinelover
Culinary Personality, Food & Wine Blogger
Author of the cookbook: Cuisines, Corkscrews & Cultures: https://foodiewinelover.com/product/cookbook/
Level-2 Certified world-renowned – “WSET: Wine, Spirit, Education, Trust”
Level-2 Certified Sommelier & Italian Wine Scholar Student (Prep course completed)
Winner of 2019 Italian Wines “Salice Salentino USA Bloggers” Award, held in Puglia, Italy
Brand Strategist

Penne alla Vodka with Crabmeat & Rosé Champagne

Penne alla Vodka with Crabmeat

Penne alla Vodka with Crabmeat

On New Year’s Day, I made Penne alla Vodka and added lump crab meat  to the sauce to give it a touch of elegance. This recipe is delicious but, because of its richness, it’s not part of my recipe rotation. Please click on the link below to follow the recipe. Simply add 1/2 – 3/4 lump crabmeat to the sauce, toward the last 10 minutes of cooking time.

Gina’s Penne Alla Vodka | Foodie and Wine Lover (foodiewinelover.com)

I paired this fancy dish with Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne Réserve Exclusive Rosé. It comprises of 45% Pinot Noir, 45% Pinot Meunier, and 10% Chardonnay. This pairing soothes my soul and sings the song to my heart.  Every sip I take, my heart twerks a little faster.

This Rosé Champagne is lively and refreshing, and will delight your taste buds. The color is deep orange with aromas of cherries and nuances of mixed red berries and grapefruit. The palate follows the nose with hints of almonds and effervescent ginger ale. This rich-style Champagne is full-bodied and has a creamy texture, with lots of tiny bubbles. The finish is irresistibly enjoyable, and marries harmoniously with the creaminess of the dish .

May your glass always be full of tiny bubbles!

Gina Martino Zarcadoolas, aka Foodiewinelover
Culinary Personality, Food & Wine Blogger
Author of the cookbook: Cuisines, Corkscrews & Cultures
Level-2 Certified world-renowned – “WSET: Wine, Spirit, Education, Trust”
Level-2 Certified Sommelier
Winner of 2019 “Salice Salentino USA Bloggers” Award
Brand Strategist

 

Fancy Shrimp & Grits paired with Champagne

Shrimp & Grits paired with Champagne

Fancy Shrimp & Grits paired with Champagne

 

On New Year’s Eve, I made my version of Shrimp & Grits. I am not claiming it to be an authentic Creole recipe, but it’s my version. This dish is simple without all the fuss and can be done in 15 minutes. I paired it with Egly-Ouriet Brut Grand Cru Champagne, and it was a winning combination. With all the excitement that evening, I did not measure all the ingredients. Please use your judgement as these are approximate measurements. I used Prosciutto instead of bacon to elevate the flavors and give the dish a festive touch. The recipe that I am sharing today is for about 6-8 people, and I baked the shrimp in the oven for about 10-15 minutes. You can divide the recipe in 2 to feed fewer people, and pan fry them on the stovetop in a single layer.

Serves: 6-8  Level of difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:

1.1/2 cups grits
butter to taste, optional
2 lbs. large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails on
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
paprika to taste
1 cup of dry white wine
extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 to 1/2 lb. chopped Prosciutto, pan fried
scallions, chopped for garnish

Preparation:

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degree F.

2. In a medium-sized stainless-steel tray, season the shrimp with salt, pepper and paprika until they are all coated. Arrange in a single layer. Add the wine. Drizzle liberally with olive oil. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until the shrimp are no longer translucent.

3. In the meantime, cook grits as per package directions. Add butter for richness.

4. Place the grits in individual bowls, add the shrimp, drizzle some sauce on top, garnish with Prosciutto bits and scallions.

Wine pairing suggestions: Sparkling wines or Champagne

Egly-Ouriet Brut Grand Cru Champagne

 

It was my first time tasting the Egly-Ouriet Brut Grand Cru and I was extremely pleased with it. The Champagne and the shrimp paired dazzlingly together. Had I used some spicy ingredients like Cayenne or chili peppers, I would have recommended a Demi-Sec (with some sweetness) Champagne to offset the heat in the dish.

Egly-Ouriet is one of the most remarkable Grower Champagne at Ambonnay in the Montagne (mountains) de Reims. Their Brut Grand Cru Champagne consists of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay and is very expressive of the terroir. The color is golden straw, showcasing aromas and flavors of freshly baked bread, toasted almond, pears, ginger, savory spices, that are woven throughout, giving the Champagne a touch of elegance with lively acidity. It was a delicious gastronomic experience!

Happy New Year 2021!

Gina Martino Zarcadoolas, aka Foodiewinelover
Culinary Personality, Food & Wine Blogger
Author of the cookbook: Cuisines, Corkscrews & Cultures
Level-2 Certified world-renowned – “WSET: Wine, Spirit, Education, Trust”
Level-2 Certified Sommelier
Winner of 2019 “Salice Salentino USA Bloggers” Award
Brand Strategist

Exclusive photos by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas
All rights reserved.

Soul-Warming Fettuccine Alfredo

Happy New Year everyone! I just returned from a holiday cruise and had an amazing time with my family and friends. Unfortunately, I came home with a cold and was looking for some comfort food. I decided to make a “creamy” and delicious Fettuccine Alfredo. In the US, many people use cream in their recipe when in realty, this dish has only three main ingredients: fettuccine, butter and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

Before I share the recipe, I want to tell you the story behind this dish. The original recipe was created by Alfredo Di Lelio in his restaurant in Rome. His wife was pregnant and had lost her appetite. He invented this dish for her by simply adding Parmigiano Reggiano cheese to an everyday Italian dish called Fettuccine al burro ( with butter). She could not get enough of it. Fettuccine Alfredo became very popular in the Italian-American community but many people use cream which is not in the original recipe. If you mix all the ingredients properly, it will create a creaminess without the use of cream. Grab your apron and follow me in the kitchen!

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound dry Fettuccine pasta
  • 1 handful of salt for pasta water
  • 8 ounces salted butter
  • 1/2 pound (24-month aged) Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup reserved pasta water

    Preparation:

    1. In a large pot, over medium-high heat, bring pasta water to a boil. Add salt. Cook Fettuccine al dente (about 12 minutes)
    2. In the meantime, in a large skillet over medium heat, heat up the butter.
    3. The pasta should be cooked by now. Reserve some pasta water before draining it.
    4. Drop pasta in the melted butter, add cheese and reserved water.
    5. Use a set of thongs to mix all the ingredients thoroughly until every strand of fettuccine is coated. Serve at once with a salad or a vegetable of your choice.Gina’s note: Even though I used salted butter, this dish was perfectly balanced and not salty. If you follow my instructions carefully, you will obtain great results.

    Wine pairing suggestions:
    I recommend either one of the three V’s: Vermentino, Vernaccia, or Verdicchio. They are all Italian white wines and would pair nicely with the richness of the pasta.

    Buon Appetito!

    In June of 2019, I had the opportunity to visit a Parmigiano Reggiano factory in Parma, Italy. Photos are my intellectual property. All Rights Reserved.

    Parmigiano Reggiano Heaven

    Parmigiano Reggiano Heaven

    Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese

    Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese

    Soul-Warming Fettuccine Alfredo

    Soul-Warming Fettuccine Alfredo

    I hope you will try this delicious recipe for yourself or your loved ones and share your experience with me.

    Happy New Year from my kitchen to yours,

    Gina Martino Zarcadoolas, aka Foodiewinelover
    Culinary Personality, Food & Wine Blogger
    Author of the cookbook: Cuisines, Corkscrews & Cultures
    Winner of 2019 “Salice Salentino Bloggers Award”
    Level-2 Certified world-renowned – “WSET: Wine, Spirit, Education, Trust”
    Level-2 Certified Sommelier

    To obtain a signed copy of my cookbook:

    Cuisines, Corkscrews & Cultures


    It’s also available on Amazon Italy, Spain, Great Britain, France, Japan, Australia, and more.

Gina’s Succulent Crab Cakes

It’s the holiday season and I want to jazz things up with some festive crab cakes and Champagne. Every once in a while I make crab cakes, and I always strive to come up with the best possible recipe. I think, I finally succeeded tonight. Generally, Blue Crabs from Maryland are used and they are famous for their crab cakes. My family gave my Maryland-style crab cakes rave reviews, and I am happy to share my version with all of you. It makes a dazzling meal but it will break the bank! I’m not gonna lie, just make up for it in January!

Servings: 6 – 8 Degree of difficulty: Medium. Yield about 12 regular-sized crab cakes or 14 smaller ones. This recipe can be divided in half to serve about 3-4 people.

Ingredients:
1/2 red bell peppers, diced
1 medium onion, diced
3 celery stalks, chopped
Salt to taste (go easy)
1 tbsp. olive oil and 1 tbsp. butter for frying veggies, plus more olive oil to pan fry crab cakes
2 lbs. ( 2) 16-ounce containers jumbo lump crabmeat
2 cups seasoned breadcrumbs
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. stoneground mustard
2 tsp. Creole seasoning
Sprinkle of garlic powder
4 eggs
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Freshly ground pepper

Crab Cakes and Champagne

Crab Cakes and Champagne

 

Crab Cakes and Champagne

Crab Cakes and Champagne

Bread and goat cheese

Bread and goat cheese

Beets and goat salad

Beets and goat salad

 

Preparation:

1) Over med-high heat, in a medium-sized pan, heat up olive oil and butter, add celery, onion and bell pepper, salt to taste. Sweat for about 3-4 minutes al dente to give it a crunch. Let it cool.

2) In a large bowl, combine crab meat and all the remaining ingredients. Add the veggies, and mix well with your hands (using gloves). Form crab cake patties, just like you would make a hamburger, place on a tray and chill in the fridge for at least 20-30 minutes.

3) Heat up enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a large pan, on medium-high heat, (make sure the oil is hot) place at the most, 4 patties, AND LOWER HEAT TO MEDIUM, otherwise, crab cakes will come out too dark. Cook on one side for 4 minutes, then flip gently with a spatula, cook the other side for about 2 minutes. Remove promptly and place on a dish lined with a paper towel. Repeat the same process. Add more oil if necessary. You can broil them for a healthier version.

I served them with a rémoulade sauce comprising of 2 tbsp. ketchup, 1 tbsp. mayo, 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard, creole seasoning to taste. Mix well.

It would not be complete without a dazzling beet salad with goat cheese, drizzled with balsamic vinegar from Modena, along with crusty French bread. My family had fun smearing the cheese all over the bread for a fun experience. I hope, you will give this recipe a try, and I am certain your family will love you for it.

Wine suggestion: I paired it with a citrusy and toasty Champagne.

Pommery is a great Champagne House. The Brut Royal is made with the 3 main grapes, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, with refreshing notes of lemons and toasted bread. This Champagne is not dry nor complex and is very enjoyable. It’s lively with a touch of finesse. For $34.00 dollars, it has a great QPR (quality price ratio) and is perfect to add holiday cheers.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, &
Bon Appetit from Gina’s Kitchen!

Gina Martino Zarcadoolas, aka Foodiewinelover
Culinary Personality, Food & Wine Blogger
Author of the cookbook: Cuisines, Corkscrews & Cultures
Level-2 Certified world-renowned – “WSET: Wine, Spirit, Education, Trust”
Level-2 Certified Sommelier & Italian Wine Scholar Student
Winner of 2019 “Salice Salentino USA Bloggers” Award
Exclusive photos by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas
All rights reserved.

Ca’ del Baio, a Piece of Heaven in Barbaresco

I finally had the opportunity to travel to Piedmont (Piemonte) this past June, and experienced the beauty of this picturesque Italian region. I visited many lush wineries in the sub-regions of La Morra, Barolo, Alba, and Barbaresco, and tasted some delicious wines. Barbaresco is a beautiful region in northwestern Italy where the Nebbiolo grape thrives in the slightly maritime climate: warmer, dryer, and milder, allowing the grapes to ripen faster. The Nebbiolo grapes are used to produce the wine that also goes by the name of Barbaresco. It is characterized by its rich flavors with notes of spices and mild perfumes with sweetness and is considered elegant and refined. The soil in Barbaresco has more nutrients and makes it less tannic than Barolo. Barbaresco is also known for Dolcetto and Barbera. 

Upon arriving at Ca’ del Baio── house of the bay horse, means a dark-horse in Piedmontese dialect, which is an inspiration for their logo──Federica greeted us with her contagious smile in her work attire. We knew it was going to be a special tour and felt a deep connection with the winery.  For four generations Ca’ del Baio has been a family affair, as is the tradition in the Langhe region. Nurtured and passed down from father to son, the vineyards surrounding the Grasso family farmhouse have been added to over time through marriage and acquisitions. 

Giulio and Luciana along with their daughters Paola, Valentina and Federica, handle all the various aspects of the business. They do it with passion and expertise, from the growing and vinification of the grapes to hospitality and wine sales. For the Grasso family, simplicity, a sense of sacrifice and the deep attachment they have to their land are pre-requisites for guaranteeing wines of quality. Today the Ca’ del Baio estate takes in 28 hectares of vineyards in the villages of Barbaresco and Treiso, both of which are in the Barbaresco winegrowing area.

All estate-grown, their wines are made from a range of highly valued varieties, some typical of the area while others are more international: the whites include Moscato, Chardonnay and Riesling, and the reds Nebbiolo, Barbera and Dolcetto. Almost all the wines are varietals. The most prestigious vines – producing the Nebbiolo used to make Barbaresco – are between 25 and 40 years old, and they go into making the estate’s crus of Asili and Pora (commune of Barbaresco) and Vallegrande and Marcarini (Treiso). 

Since we were on a tight schedule, I did not have time to write my own wine descriptions, therefore, I am using the winemaker’s notes that I found on their website: Ca del Baio. I enjoyed this wine tasting tour that was conducted by Federica. She’s passionate and very knowledgeable in the world of wines. I highly recommend  you make reservations ahead of time before visiting this charming boutique winery. 

Recently, Ca’ del Baio’s Barbaresco Vallegrande 2016 received the prestigious “Tre Bicchieri”( 3 glasses), Italy’s Best Wines award given by Gambero Rosso. It’s the largest food-E-Wine Publishing House in Europe, according to their Instagram profile. 

Enjoying a tasting at Ca' del Baio

Enjoying a tasting at Ca’ del Baio

Ca' del Baio 2013 Barbaresco Asili Riserva

Ca’ del Baio 2013 Barbaresco Asili Riserva

 

Winemaker’s notes: The wine displays a brilliant garnet red colour with shades of orange. The intense nose releases hints of lavender, pine, rose petals, aromatic herbs, spices, and goudron (tar) notes. The wine is dry, full-bodied, and warm. It is exceptionally smooth and velvety in the mouth.

 

Ca del Baio 2015 Barbaresco Pora

Ca’ del Baio 2015 Barbaresco Pora

 

Winemaker’s notes: colour bright garnet red; nose intense and complex, with fruity overtones conjuring up plums and blackberries, and spicy hints of vanilla and roasted hazelnuts; taste full-bodied, soft and tannic; a big, yet very flavorsome wine.

Ca del Baio Barbaresco Asili 2016

Ca’ del Baio 2016 Barbaresco Asili

 

Winemaker’s notes: color bright garnet red, with slight orange tinges; nose intense, with fruity aromas of marasca cherries and hints of violets. Spicy notes of black pepper, liquorice and goudron (tar); taste dry, warm and soft, showing a long, rich, smooth flavour.

Award-winning Ca del Baio 2016 Barbaresco Vallegrande

Award-winning Ca’ del Baio 2016 Barbaresco Vallegrande

 

Winemaker’s notes: colour garnet red; nose intense, with powerful fruit, dried flowers and underbrush; taste dry, smooth and rounded, ending in a warm finish with nicely-balanced tannins.

Ca del Baio Barbaresco Lineup

Ca’ del Baio Barbaresco Lineup

Ca' del Baio 2016 Barbaresco Autinbej

Ca’ del Baio 2016 Barbaresco Autinbej

Winemaker’s notes: the colour is a deep garnet red with reflections of old pink. The nose is an intense, fruity aroma reminiscent of raspberries, jam, and violets that give an ethereal feeling accompanied by sweet spicy notes and hints of cocoa. In the mouth, Autinbej is warm, long, persistent and slightly tannic with an aftertaste of fruity notes.

LCa del Baio Langhe Chardonnay

Ca’ del Baio Langhe Chardonnay

Winemaker’s notes: colour bright straw yellow; nose intense and complex, ranging from flowery to fruity, with hints of nuts; taste dry, full-bodied and well-balanced, with long flavour…Chardonnay, international by nature, Piedmontese at heart.

Barbaresco wine region 

Amazing Barbaresco lineup 

While touring, Federica's dad Giulio brought me a glass of Moscato to taste

While touring, Federica’s dad Giulio brought me a glass of Moscato d’Asti to taste

I captured a picture of Ca' del Baio family portrait - Original is not mine

I captured a picture of the Grasso’s family portrait – Original is not mine

Ca' del Baio Barrel room

Ca’ del Baio barrel room

 

Ca del Baio Wine Room

Ca’ del Baio wine storage room

Ca del Baio sisters

Ca’ del Baio – the 3 sisters – photo from their website – not mine

 

The Grasso family symbolizes respect for land and passion for wine. They take pride in their work and harmoniously carry on the family’s legacy.  I am so glad that I met this tight-knit family and made unforgettable wine memories. 

 I hope you have enjoyed this article that illustrates our wine tasting journey in Piedmont, Italy. 

“Il vino fa buon sangue”  = Good wine makes good blood
“In vino veritas”  = In wine there is truth
 
Photos taken by Gina for Foodiewinelover – unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved. 
Disclosure: some of the information was taken from Ca’ del Baio’s website.   

Happy Sipping! 
Gina Martino Zarcadoolas, aka Foodiewinelover
Culinary Personality, Food & Wine Blogger
Author of the cookbook: Cuisines, Corkscrews & Cultures
Winner of 2019 “Salice Salentino Bloggers Award”
Level-2 Certified world-renowned – “WSET: Wine, Spirit, Education, Trust”
Level-2 Certified Sommelier

To obtain a signed copy of my cookbook: https://foodiewinelover.com/product/cookbook/
It’s also available on Amazon Italy, Spain, Great Britain, France, Japan, Australia, and more.

 

 

Discover the Splendor of Salento and its Signature Italian Wines

Puglia has become one of the hottest spots in Italy where people flock to the beach to bask in the hot sun, enjoy the local wines, and partake in the Italian culinary traditions. This region is known for its wine production, cultivation of tomatoes and artichokes, and is a major producer of olive oil.  It’s also known for its famous “cucina povera” which translates to poor cuisine because the people use simple, seasonal, and high-quality ingredients.  Orecchiette—Italian for “little ears”— a regional pasta shape, fava beans, eggplant, and an abundance of fresh seafood are part of their diet. The Puglian cuisine and the wines produced in this area intertwined nicely.

As a result of my infinite love affair with Italian wines, I have tasted hundreds of them in classes, seminars, festivals, and private gatherings. If you are a wine enthusiast like me, you would be constantly exploring grape varieties from different Italian regions.

In this article, I will focus on Salice Salentino DOC wines from the Salento area. They deserve to be recognized for their richness and signature taste. Their production is still in its infancy stage unlike the wines from other major Italian regions like Piedmont and Tuscany.

Facts and history:
The Salento Peninsula in the region of Puglia is in the southernmost part of the boot known as the heel. It is bordered by the Adriatic and Ionian Seas with a sunny dry climate. The soil is fertile and the wines tend to be high in alcohol. This is due to the lack of rain in the area which creates a challenge for winemakers to craft attractive wines. The Salento area is renowned for its beautiful landscape, exquisite regional cuisine,
sun-baked vineyards, luscious wines,  and cultural diversity.

In the 1930s, the farmers would combine the Negroamaro grape, known for its earthy bitterness with the Malvasia Nera to add sweet character to the wine. This blend created a perfectly balanced wine. The rosé version followed soon after. Over time, the farmers continued to experiment and created new varieties of Salice Salentino, which now include: Negroamaro, Negroamaro Rosato, (rosé) Pinot Bianco (white wine), Fiano, Chardonnay, and Aleatico.

The Salice Salentino wines became so important in that region, that, in 1976, they were assigned the DOP: “Denominazione di Origine controllata –official quality label (DOC, “controlled designation of origin”.)

Salice Salentino owes its name to the town bearing the same name in the province of Lecce. This province is known for beautiful churches and baroque-style architecture. Lecce has been the main production of these wines for years, and is protected by a Consortium called: Consorzio Di Tutela Vini D.O.P. Salice Salentino. The Consortium was founded in 2003 and consist of 1,858 members, among them are winemakers, bottlers, and winegrowers.  The goal is to promote and ensure the protection of the territories, vineyards, ancient trees, and the indigenous grapes of the provinces of Lecce and Brindisi. The wines from that region are marketed and controlled by the Consortium to ensure the quality and the authenticity of the local grapes. Additionally, it was created to enhance and preserve this area for its great winemaking tradition.

The main grape is the Negroamaro, which translates to “black bitter” in Italian. This grape variety thrives on the terroir that combines clay and limestone soils. The Malvasia Nera is also a popular variety known for its aromatic qualities. Both grapes tend to be dark and intense in flavors.

Production and procedural guidelines:
For many years, the Salice Salentino wines have been made according to the requirements of their procedural guidelines. The entire process, from the grape growing to the final stage must take place in a specific area. It includes the districts of Salice Salentino, Veglie and Guagnano, in the province of Lecce, and Sandonaci, in the province of Brindisi, as well as some portions of the districts of Cellino San Marco (Lecce) and Campi Salentina (Brindisi).

Specific grapes are required for each single Salice Salentino wine.
At least 75% of Negroamaro grapes is required in the Salice Salentino Rosso (red) and the Rosato (rosé wines); whereas 90% of Negroamaro is required in the Salice Salentino Negroamaro and Negroamaro Rosato varieties. Additionally, local dark-colored grapes like the famous Malvasia Nera of Lecce or Brindisi can be used for blending as mentioned in the fifth paragraph.

In the Salentino Aleatico wine, (red) at least 85% of the Aleatico grapes is required, and can be blended with Negroamaro, Malvasia Nera or local Primitivo.

The Salice Salentino Bianco (white) is made 70% from Chardonnay grapes, if it does not have any other appellation. There are other types of Salice Salentino Bianco—Chardonnay, Fiano and Pinot Bianco which must contain at least 85% of the corresponding grapes.

There are also Spumante (sparkling wine) versions of the Salice Salentino on the market. This method involves natural fermentation without the addition of carbon dioxide. The Bianco, Rosato, Negroamaro Rosato, Pinot Bianco, Fiano and Chardonnay are generally used for this style of wine.

The Riserva (reserve) versions of Salice Salentino Rosso, Negroamaro, and Aleatico are aged for at least 24 months, including at least 6 in oak barrels.

The Dolce and Liquoroso versions of the Salice Salentino Aleatico are also produced and  make great dessert wines. The Dolce Naturale must have a finished alcohol of 15% and Liquoroso must have 18.5% which is like a fortified wine. Once produced, the wine is bottled in glass bottles that can have different sizes and corks, depending on the type of product.

Flavors and characteristics:
These Salice Salentino wines are enjoyed worldwide. The red ones are generally cherry, ruby or garnet-colored, and their shades become more intense as they age. The Riserva tends to have a brick color. The red wines are robust and full-bodied and can generally be classified as dry wines. The Rosso Riserva and Rosso Riserva Negroamaro have fragrant aromas of ripe fruits such as plums and cherries with a touch of spices. The sensory experience as perceived by sight, smell, and taste varies depending on the grape variety that has been used, and the way the wines are produced.

The Aleatico Dolce and Liquoroso Dolce varieties are predominantly sweet, dense, and are higher in alcohol.

The wines from the white grapes are straw yellow in color, refreshing, and fragrant with delicate fruit notes; while the Bianco and Fiano varieties have greenish hues.

Lastly, in the spumanti made from traditional wines, yeast notes are easily detected due to the re-fermentation process.

Food & wine pairings:
In general, meat-based recipes, and complex dishes are paired with the Salice Salentino from red grapes to stand up to the robustness of the wine. Pecorino cheese made from sheep’s milk also makes for a killer pairing. The Salice Salentino Rosato pairs nicely with salamis, less-intense dishes like chicken and pork, delicate cheeses, and fragrant frittatas.
The Salice Salentino Bianco goes well with swordfish and salmon, as well as a variety of seafood dishes. The bianco variety also pairs nicely with a Caprese salad using tomatoes and extra-virgin olive oil from the local farms. Whenever possible, pairing food and wine from the same region is ideal, as they are grown in similar soil.

The Aleatico Dolce and Liquoroso Dolce varieties make great dessert wines and would pair heavenly with the popular pasticciotto. This traditional dessert is known for its a flakiness, buttery short crust filled with an exquisitely rich vanilla pastry cream. There are also chocolate and pistachio versions of the filling. This dessert is also common for breakfast.

My food & wine pairing experience:
I had the pleasure of tasting the Rosalbore Salice Salentino Negroamaro Rosato DOP from Cantina Sanpancrazio, a beautiful rosé made with 100% Negroamaro grapes. The color is deep coral, (like I’ve never seen before) lightly perfumed with aromas of strawberries and gentle floral notes. The palate follows the nose, with luscious flavors of semi-ripe strawberries, and the tannins are soft. This wine is intense and well-structured with a lingering finish. The alcohol content is 13.50% by volume. The Salice Salentino Rosato represents a middle ground between the heaviness of the Rosso (red wine) and the freshness of the Bianco (white variety).

Salice Salentino Negroamaro Rosato paired with frittata

Salice Salentino Negroamaro Rosato paired with frittata

Salice Salentino Negroamaro Rosato

Salice Salentino Negroamaro Rosato

I paired this delightful rosé with a delicate frittata made with tomatoes, scallions, pancetta, and Pecorino Romano cheese. It was like the king meeting its queen (the rosé) in the quest for a beautiful romance. This food and wine combination went together harmoniously and felt like a never-ending fairytale on the palate.

I also tasted the Salice Salentino Rosso Riserva DOP from Cantine De Falco which is made with 80% Negroamaro and 20% Malvasia Nera. The color is garnet, showing fragrant spices like vanilla and nutmeg on the nose, dark cherries, and plums on the palate, with nuances of cocoa, cigar box, and oak. There is a hint of sweetness in the wine that comes from the ripeness of the fruits. The tannins are velvety, and the finish is persistent. The alcohol content is 14% by volume.

In the region of Puglia, it is common to eat horse meat, and it would make perfect sense to pair this big wine with it. However, since we do not consume this type of meat in the United States, I prepared braciole, an Italian-style gourmet beef dish that is stuffed with garlic, parsley, and prosciutto and then rolled up. They were seared on medium-high heat, then simmered for a couple of hours in a rustic-style tomato sauce. The stuffed meat and the acidity in the tomatoes were a perfect match for this majestic and full-bodied wine. This dining experience was the epitome of a beautifully balanced meal.

Salice Salentino Rosso Riserva DOP

Salice Salentino Rosso Riserva DOP

Braciole

Braciole

I hope this reportage on Salice Salentino wines has piqued your curiosity to explore this splendid Italian region and its autochthonous grapes. These wines are not only luscious, but they are affordable. This combination makes for a win-win sensory experience. Now, that I have tasted these wines, it’s time to visit Puglia. I will dream about it, until it becomes a reality.

Happy sipping from my kitchen to yours,

Update: I received the “Salice Salentino USA Bloggers Contest 2019” award/trophy for writing this blogpost.  An all-expense paid trip was included, and the ceremony was held at Rosexpo Festival on June 22nd, 2019, in Puglia, Italy.  I am excited and feel grateful to the Consortium for choosing my blogpost to represent wines from Salice Salentino. I visited this beautiful region and relished on their wines and local cuisine. I will always remember this epic moment…

Salice Salentino 2019 USA Bloggers Award

Salice Salentino 2019 USA Bloggers Award

 

Gina Martino Zarcadoolas, aka Foodiewinelover
Culinary Personality, Food & Wine Blogger
Author of the cookbook: Cuisines, Corkscrews & Cultures
Level-2 Certified world-renowned – “WSET: Wine, Spirit, Education, Trust”
Level-2 Certified Sommelier
Winner of 2019 “Salice Salentino USA Bloggers” Award
Recognized in Lecce, Puglia, Italy on June 22, 2019

Exclusive photos by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas
All rights reserved.

Food & Wine Pairings, Thanksgiving Edition 2018

Thanksgiving, Food & Wine Pairings

Thanksgiving, Food & Wine Pairings

Thanksgiving, Food & Wine Pairings

Thanksgiving, Food & Wine Pairings

IMG_8053This is the third Thanksgiving season without my daddy, and I miss him every day.  Finally, I can say I am somewhat getting back into the spirit of the holidays. We don’t get to appreciate the beauty of autumn in South Florida, but at least, we have slightly cooler weather to make this time of the year more enjoyable. This is a period where families and close friends gather around a bountiful table and celebrate with food and wine. Thanksgiving is literally around the corner and it’s time to show gratitude to our loved ones. For those of you who are hosting, I am sure that your menu is in place but don’t forget to add this wine selection to your list. Today, I will help you pick some delightful wines to serve with your Thanksgiving feast. It doesn’t have to be expensive to be good. There are many reasonably- priced wines that will work wonders.

I want to keep this as simple as possible without getting technical with fancy wine terms. Wine pairing is subjective and everyone’s palate is different. Let’s not stress over which wine goes with what food. These are my wine suggestions to add a little pizzazz to your party and make it fun for your guests.

I recommend Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay as basic wines for your cheese platters and appetizers, including seafood. Make sure the white wines are not overly chilled because this effect can take away from the flavor profile of the wines (herbaceous, lime, peaches, pears, oranges…) If you want to impress your guests, add other interesting whites such as Vermentino, Verdicchio, or a white Rioja. The list is endless and the choice is yours. Keep in mind not everyone has a palate for white wine, be sure to have some light to medium- bodied red wine such as Gamay, Pinot Noir, or a Chianti Classico.

White wines such as Riesling, and Gewurztraminer are classic choices for your Thanksgiving dinner. They both add sweetness (unless you pick a dry Riesling) and intoxicating aromas of spices, which complement the holiday theme beautifully.

Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc pair deliciously with vegetables such as asparagus and green beans.

Pinot Noir is an excellent red wine to pair with the turkey especially if you have mushrooms in your stuffing; it will bring out the characters of earthiness. There is a vast selection of Pinot Noir in the market. Check out some Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley region In Oregon. They tend to be more rustic with notes of cranberries, and they are on the earthy side. These wines are often compared to those from the Burgundy region. California and New Zealand also make great Pinot Noir. If you are on a budget, I recommend Josh Cellars Pinot Noir, Mark West, or Mark West Black Pinot Noir.

Since I am not hosting Thanksgiving, I decided to prepare a delicious turkey for my family last night. I stuffed it with a blend of wild, brown and red rice, mushrooms, sweet sausage and sage and served it with my delectable homemade gravy. I also made a green salad to complement the meal. This was all done in one day, and I didn’t have the time for the classic sweet potatoes. Sigh! The entire meal was paired with a luscious Chianti Classico Riserva that went together marvelously. The baked spices, dark fruits, and the oak in the wine intertwined perfectly with the allspice and the sage in the turkey. It was a Grand Slam with an explosion of rustic flavors.

Mark West Black Pinot Noir

Mark West Black Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir

When in doubt, you can always rely on bubbles. They’re festive and vary in prices, from the least expensive to the most sophisticated. Sparkling wines and Prosecco are fantastic choices and won’t break the bank. If you are having a fancy affair, Champagne and Franciacorta are always a good idea.

Dom Perignon

Dom Perignon

de Venoge Champagne

de Venoge Champagne

Dessert wines: Fortified wines are a great choice to pair with decadent desserts. Tawny Port pairs nicely with pumpkin and cherry pies, Muscat d’Asti with apple pies, Mavrodaphne with baklava, chocolate mousse cake with Brachetto d’Aqui.

This is not a wine tasting party, and it doesn’t have to be precise. Use this blogpost as a guideline to help you decide which wine to serve at Thanksgiving. The holidays are already stressful and there are far more important things to stress over. I am also featuring one of dad’s favorite wines called Quattro Mani, a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. It’s very inexpensive and has lovely hints of vanilla.
img_2216

 

Opus One

Opus One

Opus One is a sophisticated and complex wine, and would complement a lavish Thanksgiving dinner. It certainly would take a big chunk out of your wallet. In the end, it’s not about the money you spent, whether it’s little or a lot, what matters is the quality of time that you cherish with your family and friends.

I hope you will have some fun with these ideas and enjoy the spirit of Thanksgiving with your loved ones.

Wishing you a peaceful Thanksgiving from my family to yours,

Gina Martino Zarcadoolas/Foodiewinelover
My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles
Culinary Personality – Certified Level 2 WSET and Sommelier
Cookbook Author: Cuisines, Corkscrews & Cultures
To purchase my book, please click here: https://foodiewinelover.com/product/cookbook/

 

 

Opus One, an Iconic Wine

 

Opus One

Opus One

Opus One paired with Rack of Lamb

Opus One paired with Rack of Lamb

As my birthday is approaching, (October 26th) I thought, I’d crack open a seductive bottle of 2013 Opus One, a Bordeaux blend from Napa Valley. It’s made with 5 varietals, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. This opulent red wine is made in the exact same fashion as a Bordeaux First Growth. The color is an intense crimson red with slow-moving legs and a 14.5% ABV.  All you have to do is, take a good whiff of it to realize that this wine is in a class of its own. The nose boasts intense aromas of cedar, chocolate, dark plums, and intoxicating spices. It has a luscious mouthfeel with hints of dark cocoa, tobacco, leather, and black pepper. The wine is dense with layers of complexity. The tannins are velvety and the finish is extremely persistent. This is a special occasion wine and I paired it with a mouth-watering rack of lamb and a delectable eggplant dish called ratatouille. The earthiness of the veggies weaved magically with this iconic wine.  A wine of such magnitude is made to age in the cellar in order to enjoy the optimal flavor profiles. However, since I have no patience, and life is passing by so quickly, I decided it was time to open it up and enjoy “Gina’s Dolce Vita” to the fullest.

The wine is perfectly balanced, and all the other elements come together harmoniously. I enjoyed sharing it with my loved ones, and it was a memorable evening. I used a decanter called vSpin to aerate it, and it opened it beautifully.

“Opus One is the realized dream of two men: Baron Philippe de Rothschild of Chateau Mouton Rothschild in Bordeaux and Napa Valley vintner Robert Mondavi. Together, our founders set out to create a single wine dedicated to the pursuit of uncompromising quality. This singular mission shapes every vintage, today and for generations to come.” ~ Opus One Winery

“Wine to me is passion. It’s family and friends. It’s warmth of heart and generosity of spirit.” ~ Robert Mondavi

Ratatouille

Ratatouille

Rack of Lamb

Rack of Lamb

I hope you have enjoyed my delightful food and wine experience. I have recently published a cookbook that contains a treasury of recipes and some wine pairing suggestions. If you would like to obtain an autographed copy, please click on this link:  https://foodiewinelover.com/product/cookbook/

CCC-Cookbook-Cover-FrontJpeg

Cuisines, Corkscrews & Cultures

Gina Martino Zarcadoolas, Foodiewinelover
My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles
World renowned – WSET (Wine, Spirit, Education, Trust) Level-2
Level-2 Sommelier
Culinary Personality and cookbook author of: Cuisines, Corkscrews & Cultures
Photos by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover, LLC

Disclaimer:

Trademarks and brands are the property of their respective owners, and no claim is made to them and no endorsement by them of this blog post and my cookbook is implied or claimed.

1 2 4
%d bloggers like this: