11 Fine Italian Reds to Savor

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Tasting a group of red wines from central and northern Italy is always a pleasant adventure, like revisiting the countryside where you grew up. It’s familiar territory, yet there are constant little surprises and reconstituted memories. Here are 11 good to very good red wines to savor — sangioveses from Tuscany and Romagna, corvina-based Valpolicellas from Verona, and a merlot from Abruzzo. Pull up a glass and enjoy.

2011 Poliziano "Lohsa" Morellino di Scansano ($15). Pleasant, exotic, savory aromas almost of garrigue with dried blackberry and fresh huckleberry fruits mingled together. Very enjoyable wine from the emerging Tuscan coastal areas of Maremma.

2010 Jacopo Biondi Santi "Braccale" Toscana IGT red wine ($18). An interesting and enjoyable combo of flavors — dark cherries, barrel notes and a hint of balsamic or red vermouth.

2010 Silvio Nardi rosso di Montalcino ($23). Ripe, full flavors of cherry, black raspberry and cassis, yet it is not over-extracted. Moderately lean finish. Quite nice.

My Pick of the Litter: 2008 Banfi brunello di Montalcino ($55). Lightish body but with firm flavors of dark cherries, tobacco, a hint of caramel and some creaminess. A delightful, complex wine that is not overpowering in its tannins.

2008 Silvio Nardi brunello di Montalcino ($54). Good intensity of ripe fruit, but lots of dried-herb savoriness and sangiovese tanginess.

2007 Silvio Nardi "Manachiara" brunello di Montalcino ($77). This single-vineyard brunello is dark and brooding and very savory with lots of attractive wood notes, blueberry moodiness and raspy tannins.

2011 Da Luca Romagna sangiovese superiore ($11). Although they don’t get the headlines that Tuscan sangios do, sangiovese wines from Romagna are often bargains with a slightly different taste profile. This one has dark cherry flavors and typical varietal raspiness in the finish with light tannins. Not complex, yet a very nice wine.

2010 Sartori amarone della Valpolicella ($41). Not a particularly complex wine, but one that has its basic profile — intense but not concentrated dark cherries with a hint of pencil lead — down pat. For a big wine, a very good sipper.

2010 Sant’Antonio "Selezione Castagnedi" amarone della Valpolicella ($45). A real mouthful and a very satisfying one — tight, savory with lots of herbal notes, intense and powerful, yet still lean on the palate. Flavors of cherries, a touch of violets and a few raisiny notes.

2010 Sant’Antonio "Monti Garbi" Valpolicella superiore ripasso ($19). I’m not sure that the ripasso process — using some leftover skins from amarone fermentation for the new fermentation — adds much here. The wine is lean with cherry flavors and hints of green stemminess.

2012 Stlto Terre di Chieti IGT merlot ($10). From Abruzzo, this easy-drinking merlot has a gamy-like fruitiness of cherries and raspberry, chalky minerality and very light tannins.

How to Start a Wine Cellar

Why collect wine when more than 95% of the world&aposs wines are meant to be consumed within a year or two after release? I can give you two compelling reasons: first, a small percentage of the greatest wines--mostly reds, but many dry white and sweet wines, too--need anywhere from a few years to several decades to achieve their mellow, multifaceted maturity. By then you won&apost be able to find them or afford them--unless you already own them. Second, the wines you age yourself will probably be in better condition than most older bottles you&aposll find withering away on retailers&apos shelves.

All you need is a place that is dark, humid but not too damp, reasonably cool (preferably below 60 degrees but definitely below 70) and safe from daily temperature fluctuations. That, plus a few suggestions to help you avoid the most commonly made mistakes.

BEGIN WITH A GAME PLAN: Some wine lovers buy without making a realistic estimate of their future needs and quickly accumulate more bottles than they can possibly drink over a lifetime. Other collectors cellar too many wines that mature quickly and fade, or overload on one type of wine.

Do some reading, or take a course on the world&aposs major wine regions, or join a wine club that holds frequent tastings before you embark on collecting. Tastings of older vintages can show you what to expect from the wines you are laying down. If you realize now, for example, that you prefer the youthful, spicy red fruit flavors of Pinot Noir to the earthy notes this variety shows in its golden years, you won&apost waste the time and space aging them.

DON&aposT OVERLOOK WHITE WINE, BUT CHOOSE CAREFULLY: It&aposs a matter of personal taste, of course, but as a rule of thumb you may want to stock your cellar with a rough ratio of three reds to one white. Remember that most white wines don&apost reward extended cellaring and that it&aposs always possible to find an excellent, ready-to-drink young white wine at your local shop. Moreover, many dry whites--with the notable exception of some top Chardonnays and Rieslings and Loire Valley Chenin Blancs--quickly lose their freshness and begin to oxidize if subjected to less-than-wonderful storage conditions. On the other hand, far too many of the world&aposs greatest, collection-worthy whites are consumed before they have reached their flavor-filled potential. A young Alsatian Riesling might be austere today, offering only a hint of its future richness and personality. How can you know which whites to cellar? Ask around, read up and, best of all, taste for yourself.

DON&aposT OVERBUY BORDEAUX: Red Bordeaux has traditionally been the foundation of most great cellars--owing not only to the wine&aposs slow development and legendary longevity, but to its track record for price appreciation. (Case lots of classified-growth Bordeaux from the best years remain the safest investments in the notoriously conservative auction market.) If you&aposre cellaring wine to savor rather than resell, keep in mind that a top-notch red Bordeaux may need at least a decade of aging, and may go through a muted stage during which it will disappoint your expectations.

Some non-Bordeaux, world-class reds to look for: Hermitage and Côte Rôtie from the Rhône Valley Italy&aposs Killer Bs: Barolo, Barbaresco and Brunello and California&aposs Cabernet Sauvignons. Red Burgundy, though tricky to buy due to high prices and limited production, can be transcendently good, and is infinitely versatile with food. The underappreciated wines of Provence and the Languedoc deliver an exhilarating range of spicy, herbal flavors. Spain&aposs already well-aged Rioja reservas and gran reservas offer the elegance of claret without the weight--or the wait. Many of the wines above will provide delicious drinking soon after reaching wine store shelves, yet can still improve in bottle for a decade or more.

DON&aposT LOSE IT ON A SINGLE VINTAGE: Collectors often trample one other in a rush to acquire wines from vintages hyped by the wine press--almost invariably the superripe years. Yet these vintages frequently yield wines that are fiery with alcohol or short on balancing acidity. Drought conditions common in hot years can produce tannic monsters that may require decades to soften. Although the so-called great years may be your best bet for investing in wine, they do not always provide the most user-friendly bottles to enjoy with a meal. Good wines from less ripe vintages will often prove far more versatile with food because of their thirst-quenching acidity and subtler flavors.

REMEMBER SWEET AND FORTIFIED WINES: Just as no self-respecting food lover would think of leaving the table after the meat course, no wine lover wants to end a great meal on a dry note. The best Sauternes, along with late-harvest wines from Germany, Alsace and the Loire Valley, are ideal candidates for cellaring because they require a decade or two of aging to unleash their volatile esters. But because these lovely "sticky" wines are generally made in small quantities, they tend to disappear early from retail shops and thus deserve space in your cellar. So do vintage ports. These special-occasion fortified wines can take up to 25 years to reach their full, mellow maturity and can last for generations. You may drink only a couple of bottles of vintage port a year, but no serious cellar is complete without them.

THINK BIG, THINK SMALL: At a dinner party for eight, a bottle of wine (750 ml) will give everyone one small glass a magnum (1.5 liters) will please your guests twice. Magnums also age more slowly due to their greater mass. And, a few magnums of nutty, mature Champagne will dazzle your guests on special occasions.

It&aposs also wise to think small. Sometimes a half-bottle is all you want, or a half bottle of white for starters and a half bottle of red for the main course. Half-bottles of luxury dessert wines are a perfect size, since such rich wines are best served in small doses. Wines high in sugar, alcohol and acidity are more resistant to oxidation, so you should not have to worry about premature aging in smaller bottles.

TASTE &aposEM IF YOU GOT &aposEM: How do you know if a wine is ready unless you taste it? Pop a cork from time to time, and judge for yourself. Thanks to later harvesting and modern winemaking techniques, today&aposs wines are often accessible in their youth, even if they are capable of extended aging. Besides, storage conditions vary and your wines may reach maturity a lot faster--or slower--than the vintage chart suggests.

Pasta and Wine Pairings

Lazio’s famous hollow pasta is the perfect palette for rich, creamy burrata cheese. Complement the dish’s buttery flavor with a “shy Italian” like Dolcetto, a light-bodied Sauvignon Blanc from Friuli, or an intensely aromatic white such as a Traminer Aromatico.

The tannin in a Sangiovese strikes a perfect balance with the richness of the creamy Carbonara. Or go with the peppery-pear notes of a northern Italian classic like Fruilano to complement the whole eggy, bacon-studded dish.

Slightly bitter greens like broccoli rabe require flavorful, robust reds. Southern Italian wines like a Susumaniello or a Negroamaro-Cabernet Sauvignon blend balance the flavor well, or go with a classic from Tuscany, such as a medium-bodied Chianti Classico with firm tannins.

This springtime veggie is notoriously hard to pair with wine, unless you’re serving it with a rich, creamy sauce. If you’d prefer to let the asparagus shine, then opt for a lemon-bright white like Frascati Superiore, or a subtly fruity Friulano.

Made with just Pecorino Romano and freshly cracked black pepper, this classic pasta dish is simplicity itself. Celebrate its Roman heritage with a crisp white like Frascati, or savor the contrast a bright, berry red such as Sangiovese or Chianti can bring to a intensely peppery preparation.

Casarecce, Italian for “home made,” is the perfect pasta for chunky sauces like short rib ragu—and robust Italian reds are the perfect wines. Any Sangiovese will do nicely, or try a medium-bodied Barbera or Chianti Classico. For braising the ribs, go for a dry red, like an Italian Cabernet Sauvignon.

Roasting brings out the smoky, earthy flavors of veggies like eggplant and zucchini. They&rsquore best complemented with lemon-bright or neutral-scented whites (like Frascati Superiore) or&mdashif you&rsquore serving with a tomato-based sauce&mdashwith a fruity reds like Nero d&rsquoAvola or Brunello di Montalcino.

Match the intensity of flavor in sun-dried tomatoes with an equally intense wine, like Malvazia Bianca. If the sun-dried tomatoes are part of a vegetable mélange, go with a Chianti. Its own dried-fruit notes will complement rather than go head-to-head with the strong flavor.

Bucatini tossed pancetta and fresh cheese pair perfectly with a northern Italian classic like Friulano the peppery and pear notes of the wine contrast beautifully with any dry-cured, aged ham. If you&rsquore going with pancetta in a creamier sauce, the tannin in a red like Sangiovese will balance the richness.

Roasted chickpeas, like chickpeas that have been deep-fried, pair well with wines with crisp, slightly fruity flavors, like a rosé. Or bring out the chickpea&rsquos smoky flavor with something dry and oaky, like a Sangiovese.

Possibly the easiest ever wine-food pairing: red wine with pasta Bolognese! Go with the northern Italian classic Barbera for a weeknight dish (or a pricier Barolo for a dinner party). If you like sparkling wine, bring on the dry Lambrusco.

Fruity Italian reds like Chianti or Montepulciano bring out the herbaceous flavor of fresh green pesto. Or try a Sangiovese to complement the hint of licorice in basil this earthy wine is delicious with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, so be sure to have that on hand for serving.

Riesling: Asian Tuna Burgers with Wasabi Mayo

Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

This tuna burger with wasabi mayo has a kick in every bite, thanks to the horseradish-laden condiment its slathered with. Off-dry riesling is a no-brainer with not only spicy cuisine but also Asian cuisine in general as well—in part because of its ripe acidity and subtle sweetness, which helps to carry the flavors of the dish.

Get our recipe for Tuna Burgers with Wasabi Mayo.

Savor Spanish Flavor in Tequesta

Codfish empanadas, fried calamari, octopus, and Iberian ham and aged Manchego cheese.
Photos by Sophia Paytner

A nyone who has traveled in Spain is familiar with the tapas crawl: As mealtime approaches, diners wander from one bar to another, consuming a snack and a glass of wine or sherry at each. Over the past decade, the popularity of small plates has exploded here in the States as well, and they can now be found everywhere from gastropubs to fine
dining establishments.

The Mendez family is on a mission to bring authentic Spanish tapas to South Florida. Juan Carlos, along with his brother Benito and his son Carlos James, were partners in Tapeo Restaurant in West Palm Beach before opening Andalucia Tapas Bar & Restaurant in Tequesta last December. “We’re re-creating the traditional flavors of Spain,” says Chef Benito, who hails from Galicia in Spain’s northwest corner. He uses recipes inherited from his mother and has studied specialized regional dishes throughout the country. “We make all of our stocks from scratch, use Calasparra rice from Murcia, and flavor our paella with saffron.”

The menu at Andalucia is dotted with favorites such as white anchovies, ham croquettes, sautéed chorizo, and several treatments of octopus. Even so, paella stands out as the restaurant’s signature dish and has its roots in Benito’s childhood on a rural farm. “My mother grew all of our produce—we never went shopping,” he says. “People took whatever they had on hand, threw it in a pot with rice, and stirred it frequently with a wooden spoon. We offer three different versions [of paella], which we simmer slowly for 30-35 minutes so the seafood, chicken, or sausage gradually infuses the dish with flavor.”

Carlos James, who runs the front of the house, grew up in the restaurant business. “I started working for my father at age 14 as a busboy,” he recalls. “We strive for culinary excellence, but we also want to offer an intimate, family-style experience. When you enter the restaurant, you immediately sense the warmth. We want you to feel like you’re in Spain.”

Andalucia serves three different versions of its signature paella.

That feeling carries over to the wine list, where guests can order full-bodied reds from Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Toro, or Priorat, and crisp whites from Rueda and Rías Baixas. Sangria is available by the glass or pitcher, and craft cocktails include the Andalucia (Oxley gin, Campari, honey syrup, pineapple and lime juice) and the Spanish Spritz (Grey Goose vodka, agave, pineapple and lemon juice, muddled kiwi, and basil).

“Spanish tapas have had an influence on global cuisine,” says Carlos James. “Many of our customers have heard about them but have never had a chance to try them. We want to bring something to the community that no one else has.” 187 Tequesta Drive, Tequesta 561.406.6509

Central Italian Wines


2005 Capezzana Conti Contini Sangiovese ($10) This deep-purple Sangiovese, loaded with blackberry fruit, offers remarkable substance for its price—no surprise, given that it’s made by Capezzana, one of Tuscany’s top estates, whose vineyards have produced wine for the last 12 centuries.

2005 Gualdo del Re Eliseo Bianco ($16) Gualdo del Re’s family-owned winery, on a section of the Tuscan coast that’s filled with Etruscan ruins, lies in the tiny Val di Cornia DOC. This blend of Trebbiano Toscano, Malvasia and Clairette is bright and fresh, full of green-apple and spice-drop notes.

2005 La Mozza I Perazzi ($16) American restaurateur Joseph Bastianich partnered with star chefs Lidia Bastianich (his mother) and Mario Batali to start this Morellino di Scansano�sed project in 2001. I Perazzi, its entry-level wine, bursts with bright berry and cherry flavors.

2004 Castello di Gabbiano Chianti Classico Riserva ($17) This estate south of Florence has been making wine since the 12th century and is now one of the best-known names in Chianti—in part thanks to wines like this one, which has the scent of tea leaves and ripe fruit that recalls cherry liqueur.

2005 Fattoria le Pupille Morellino di Scansano ($19) Morellino di Scansano, a DOC in the south of Tuscany, has been known for Sangiovese-based red wines since the 1800s. Le Pupille is one of the region’s stars—which is easy to understand, given the appeal of this lush, raspberry-scented red.


2005 La Carraia Sangiovese ($11) Top winemaker Riccardo Cotarella makes this juicy, eminently drinkable Umbrian Sangiovese, rich with berry flavors. A few months in French oak before it’s released adds light notes of anise and savory spice.


2004 Illuminati Riparosso ($14) This velvety, full-bodied red comes from the largest privately owned winery in Abruzzo𠅊 region that’s been known for its wines since Hannibal defeated the Romans there in 217 BC.

The Definitive Guide to Pairing Italian Wine, Cheese, and Charcuterie

You might want to drink your glass (or two!) of Moscati d’Asti unadorned, with nothing but your stemware and a smile as accompaniment. In that case, drink on! Enjoyment is the name of the game, and there’s no wrong way to savor your favorite sip.

But sometimes, you want to make that Moscati d’Asti really sing. Why not pair it with La Tur, a cloud-like cheese made in Piedmont with a blend of cow, sheep, and goat milks?

Separately, both the wine and cheese are delicious. Together, their flavors marry to resemble the lightest cheesecake you’ve ever had — ripe, glistening fruit, decadent creaminess, and a bit of sweetness. Serve it with a few slices of Prosciutto di San Daniele to balance the sweetness, and you’ve officially elevated your evening.

For those of us hungry for harmony, there is nothing quite like matching your favorite wine with perfectly complementary cheese and charcuterie. No matter the wine and cheese, there are some general rules: creamier, younger cheeses tend to be better with white and sparkling wines, and harder, aged cheeses will pair better with red wine. Either way, a little bit of salty charcuterie ties it all together. Balance is the name of the game — as much as you love those creamy, milky cheeses, they likely will be overwhelmed by a big glass of Barolo. Open a bottle of Vermentino instead, however, and you’ve got yourself a gorgeous pairing. Italy offers an array of some of the most world-renowned wines, cheeses, and charcuterie, making it an ideal place to start when it comes to putting together a spread that you and your friends will love.

By artfully pairing Italian wines to regional cheeses and charcuterie, “you’re tasting a place,” Tia Keenan, cheese expert and author, says. These sorts of pairings bring culture, history, and geography to the table.

We asked some of the world’s leading wine and cheese experts for their favorite pairings and top tips. Here are four things to keep in mind when pairing Italian wine with cheese and charcuterie.

Layer Flavors

“It’s hard to go wrong with cheese and sparkling wine, but Prosecco and Bergamino di Bufala are an especially delicious pair,” Eli Joyce, Cheese Buyer and Education Lead, Cheese School of San Francisco, says.

Joyce believes the creamy, floral qualities of water buffalo’s milk are the perfect complement to the pear notes in Prosecco.

“The bubbles also help balance Bergamino’s decadent texture,” Joyce says. Ready to gild the lily? “I certainly wouldn’t be mad if one were to throw a little 24-month Prosciutto di Parma in there too — some salty minerality to top it all off!”

Don’t Fear the Atypical

Don’t be afraid to seek out unusual cheeses or pairings, says Carol Johnson, Certified Cheese Professional and Cheesemonger at Monger’s Palate in Brooklyn, N.Y.

“I love the unusual and delicate Lou Bergier Pichin paired with a Marzemino wine and Salame Felino,” Johnson says. Made from raw Bruna Alpine cow’s milk, and curdled with thistle rennet only, Lou Bergier is a semi-firm, cow’s milk toma.

“Marzemino’s bright sour-cherry acidity is cut by the dense creamy paste and brown butter earthiness of the Lou Bergier,” she says. Meanwhile, the Salame Felino (known colloquially in Tuscany as “finocchiona”) softens the thistle tang of the cheese and the tannic bite of the wine.

“I love the unusual and delicate Lou Bergier Pichin paired with a Marzemino wine and Salame Felino,” Johnson says.

Learn the Names

“Like a big Italian family where all the cousins are named Giovanni, in Italy, Pecorino is a cheese and a wine, sharing not only a name but also flavor profiles,” Keenan says.

The two go beautifully together, with the mild, almost citrusy notes of younger, semi-firm Pecorino cheese playing off of the wine’s floral minerality.

“Of course, it’s best paired with some of the superlative pork-based charcuterie from central Italy,” Keenan adds.

All prosciuttos are not created equally, though. Prosciutto Toscano DOP is “typically cured with spices, setting it apart from more well-known iterations of prosciutto, like San Daniele or Parma,” Keenan says. Those spices complement your Pecorino wine and cheese pairing, bringing notes of fennel to the mix.

Embrace Red Wines

The diversity of Italian red wines provides ample pairing opportunities.

“Sangiovese is one of the true noble grape varieties of Italy and can be a shapeshifter, producing everything from soft, plush, and fruity wines to rich, leathery, and powerful ones,” Emily Schwed, Certified Cheese Professional, Convive Wines, New York City, says. She suggests pairing the stronger iterations, such as a 5- to 10-year-old Chianti Classico or Rosso di Montalcino, with Quadrello di Bufala, a washed-rind cheese made with buffalo milk.

“The salt and fattiness of the cheese really boost Sangiovese’s ripe plum and fig flavors,” Schwed says. “The whole thing is rounded out with a thin slice of Prosciutto di Parma, which ties the vegetal notes in the wine to the ultra-savory cheese.

Want to try something slightly farther afield? Frappato, an earthy, relatively light-bodied red variety planted primarily in Sicily, is a good foil for southern Italy’s aged sheep’s milk cheeses and spicy charcuterie.

The diversity of Italian red wines provides ample pairing opportunities.

“Frappato has quickly become one of my go-to reds,” Ashley Bryant, Education and Events Director, Dedalus Wine in Burlington, Vt., says. She thinks its fruity, “crunchy” quality can stand up to strong cheeses and salumi.

“Pair Bianco Sardo, a firm sheep’s milk cheese from Sardinia, with a lightly chilled glass of Frappato and a solid slice of Mortadella” Bryant suggests. “The sweet grassy notes in this basket-aged cheese highlight the floral and earthy quality of the wine.”

“Southern Italy is cranking out some outstanding (and affordable) bold reds,” Dan Belmont, Wine and Cheese Educator (London), WSET 3, London, says. “The robust Aglianico grape delivers on tannins, so it’s best balanced with rich pairings.”

Belmont suggests pairing it with Coppa salami. “The dark fruits of the wine will play well with the fatty pork goodness,” he says. “The formaggio of choice is Pecorino Calabrese. The aged sheep’s milk cheese brings herbs and savory notes to complete your Italian feast.”

White Wines Are Dreamy, Too

Though many of us know Italy for its red wines, the white wines are just as majestic and arguably more versatile.

“Arneis, a gorgeous Piemontese white, is my dream wine,” says Adam Goddu, a Certified Cheese Professional and Retail Director at Eden Boutique Taproom in Winooski, Vt. “It’s crisp, floral, and medium- to full-bodied, which pairs beautifully with so many of my favorite Italian cheeses. For instance, Toma Piemontese’s rich mushroom notes are exponentially enhanced with a glass of Arneis. Throw in a thin slice of Culatello to bring out the savory qualities in everything, and you are in pairing heaven!”

Because Italian wines have such unparalleled richness and vibrancy, they pair wonderfully with almost anything you can throw at them. Whereas many whites wouldn’t pair as well with rich beef dishes, something like Arneis or Vermentino can be truly lovely. So, while they’ll go with softer cheeses, harder cheeses can be just as wonderful.

Top Tips From the Wine Cellar: Pair these meals, Northern Italian wines

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Editor&rsquos note: Pennsylvania liquor stores are closed to help combat the spread of covid-19.

With northern Italians now living in virtually complete lockdown, show your support by appreciating and enjoying delicious wines and recipes from the region. Most Northern Italian recipes use ingredients readily available here. And the region&rsquos wines offer plenty of high quality, tasty bottles at reasonable prices.

Begin with a dish of creamy risotto paired with a crisp northern Italian white wine. Risotto uses arborio, a short-grained, extra-starchy rice. After lightly sautéing minced onions in olive oil, add the arborio to the pan and cook briefly until the rice is just translucent. Then gradually add either chicken or vegetable stock while constantly stirring the rice over low heat. Repeat until the rice absorbs enough liquid to become soft and creamy. Patient, constant stirring holds the key to successful risotto.

As an option, add steamed asparagus tips or mushrooms to taste. Then top the hot risotto with a dash of high-quality extra virgin olive oil and grated sharp cheese, preferably either Asiago or Parmigiano-Reggiano. Serve immediately.

Pair it with the crisp 2018 Tiefenbrunner, Pinot Grigio, I.G.P. Vignetti delle Dolomiti, Italy (Luxury 81753 $14.99). The wine comes from Italy&rsquos northern-most vineyards in the Dolomite Mountains near the border with Austria. The high-altitude vineyards preserve fresh acidity, and fermentation in stainless steel tanks captured the freshness exquisitely.

The wine&rsquos floral, apple and grapefruit aromas lead to fresh, crisp flavors. A touch of creaminess adds good balance. Its finish is fruity, yet dry. Highly Recommended.

Next try a classic northern Italian &ldquofinger food,&rdquo Involtini di Vitello &mdash Veal Roll Ups with Ham and Mozzarella Cheese. Simply roll up thin veal scallopini strips with a piece of cooked ham and a small piece of mozzarella cheese. Hold each roll-up together with a wooden toothpick. Then lightly sprinkle breadcrumbs over the roll-ups before placing them on a greased baking pan. Bake the roll-ups at 350-degrees F until the cheese melts slightly and the bread crumbs brown.

Serve the Involtini di Vitello with the tasty Paolo Scavino, Vino Rosso, Italy (Luxury 80454 $14.99), a red blend of traditional northern Italian grapes (Dolcetto, Barbera, Nebbiolo) with Merlot. The vines grow around Castiglione Falletto, a commune in the heart of the famed Barolo D.O.C.G appellation. Wine grower Enrico Scavino and his daughters Enrica and Elisa carry on a family tradition of making classic reds emphasizing elegance, finesse and fruity purity over power.

This easy drinking wine&rsquos ruby color offers plum, cherry and bell pepper aromas. In the glass, ripe red fruit with medium body balances beautifully with fresh acidity and smooth tannins through the pleasantly lingering finish. Absolutely delicious. Highly Recommended.

Next Tagliatelle alla Bolognese offers a hearty dish of wide egg noodle pasta with a rich, meaty sauce from the northern Italian city of Bologna. Use either dry or fresh noodles typically available at specialty Italian groceries.

The sauce incorporates a mixture of ground veal, pork and beef with tomato puree, cream, chopped pancetta (or bacon), minced carrots, minced celery, minced onion and stock. Just follow any classic recipe available online such as Taste Atlas (tasteatlas.com/bolognese/recipe) and you&rsquore in for a real treat.

Pair the Tagliatelle alla Bolognese with the 2016 Alessandro e Gian Natale Fantino, Barbera d&rsquoAlba Superiore &ldquoCascina Dardi &mdash Bussia,&rdquo Italy (Luxury 75577 $21.99) from northwest Italy&rsquos Piedmont region. Winegrowing brothers Alessandro and Gian Natale Fantino cultivate vineyards in Bussia, one of Barolo&rsquos most famous hillside locations. Their &ldquoDardi&rdquo subsection features sandy clay soils and terrific sunny south and southeast exposure. The brothers pursue sustainable viticulture, and their Barbera &ldquoold vines&rdquo deliver meager yields of outstanding fruit.

The wine&rsquos dark-ruby color offers earthy aromas with black cherry and brown spice notes. Fresh black cherry and meaty flavors meld with earthy tannins and fresh acidity. Recommended.

The next dish, Brasato al Barolo, offers a northern Italian version of good old-fashioned pot roast. Various recipes such as Certified Piedmontese Online (piedmontese.com) call for slowly braising beef brisket in Barolo wine, but feel free to substitute a less costly dolcetto or Barbera. Additions of chopped carrots, onions, bay leaves, rosemary and juniper berries contribute savory flavors and intriguing aromas.

Serve the tender, juicy roast with the delicious 2017 G.D. Vajra, Langhe Nebbiolo, Italy (Luxury 81357 $21.99), a fresh, fruity red from the Piedmont region. &ldquoThis wine is our quest for the innocence of Nebbiolo, its purest expression,&rdquo winegrower Giuseppe Vajra says. This family-owned domaine succeeds admirably with this lovely wine which comes from organically cultivated young Nebbiolo vines.

The wine&rsquos light ruby color unfolds bright raspberry and red cherry aromas with brown spice and light earthy notes. Pure, fresh red fruit follows in the glass balanced by bright, lively acidity and fine, elegant tannins frame the long, fruity finish. Outstanding quality for the price. Highly Recommended.

The 2017 Azelia, Langhe Nebbiolo, Italy (Luxury 81470 $23.99) delivers another delicious interpretation of Nebbiolo, northern Italy&rsquos premier red wine grape. Fourth generation winegrower offers dark ruby color with light red brick glints. Ripe plum and blackberry aromas open to fresh ripe fruit flavors and rich concentration. Pronounced, lively acidity and fine tannins balance a lush, fruity finish. Highly Recommended.

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Italian Red Wines

Over 500 different grape varieties are grown in Italy, 350 of which are used to make wines, and over 100 of them are used in Italian Red Wines (or Rosso).

Let’s first look at how Italian red wines are labelled, the quality classifications, and the Italian appellation system.

Italian Wine Labels and Quality Standards

The abbreviation you find on Italian red wine labels are used to indicate the quality and category of Italian wine.

There are five main categories of Italian wines.

  • VdT: VdT vino are ‘Table Wines’ intended for everyday use.
  • IGT or Typical Geographical Identification: The IGT classification was created after DOC and DOCG. These wines have to undergo a few quality checks.
  • VQPRD: VQPRD stands for ‘Quality wine produced in a specific region’.
  • DOC or Controlled Designation of Origin: The regulations for each DOC wine prescribe the wine color, production area, permitted grape varieties, alcohol levels, and winemaking techniques.
  • DOCG or Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin: DOCG is the highest designation of wine quality in Italy. The permitted varietal yields are lower. Each wine must pass a detailed technical analysis and tasting to get the seal of approval from the Agriculture Ministry.

In 1963, Italy first launched its Appellation system. There are four main categories in the Italian Appellation System - from Vini, the classification for table wines to the highest classification of Vini DOP which has to follow stringent winemaking norms.

Further reading:

If you want to know all about French wines and the wine regions, check out these informative guides:

Did you know that the type of potato you use will determine how smooth and creamy your mashed potatoes will be? Russet potatoes are the cheapest and most readily available potato. They will do fine for mashed potatoes if that is all you can find.

However, if you are after some super creamy mashers, then we recommend Yukon Gold potatoes. Yukon Golds have a naturally creamy texture and an almost buttery flavor. When they are mashed, they are smoother, creamier, and richer than Russet potatoes.

Yes, Yukon Golds are a bit more expensive. However, if you&rsquore looking for the ultimate creamy ricotta mashed potatoes, then we recommend you spend a few pennies more and get the Yukon Golds.

If you can make regular mashed potatoes, you can easily convert them into a creamy, unique, classy mash!

Watch the video: Smag på Italien first lesson fall 2008

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