Italian wine is the theme of our local Port of Wines this year, so I have had the opportunity to try several beauties. I find Italian wines to be warm generous and friendly, much like the people I’m guessing. I can’t wait to travel to Italy one day and here are a few ways we can travel to Italy this evening and never leave our homes.
A Primitivo is genetically the same grape as a California Zinfandel, and my wines friends all know how much I love Zinfandel. So it’s probably no surprise that I found this to be a fantastic wine. I was shocked this elegant fruity wine from Puglia was under $20. Juicy flavors of ripe raspberries and a hint of smoke make this wine my big winner of the week.
Here’s another big winner for under $20. Pronounced ‘Oh Toes’ if you want to ask for it at your local wine store, which is a latin name for an owl. The winemaker wanted to make a wine that was dark and mysterious as the night time, when an owl would come out. Full bodied and spicy, this wine is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet and Shiraz. So it’s flavor all around. The Merlot made it a perfect match for grilled pork, but believe me, this wine will go with just about anything you serve.
You cannot write a wine blog about Italian wine and leave out Valpolicella, ranking just after Chianti in Italian wine production. Because Italy is one of the ‘Old World’ wine regions, it is named by region. So Valpolicella is not a grape variety, it is a region. And the region is known for 3 grape varietals – Corvina Veronese, Rondinella, and Molinara. And you thought Valpolicella was hard to pronounce. This is elegant silky wine that is under $20. This wine is aged in stainless steel so it’s a great wine if you don’t like your reds oaky. Juicy cherries on the palate, firm tannins and a nice finish. Great wine.
Another wine I had to mention was a Barolo. And although it is my goal to try every Barolo I can, this is the one I had most recently. A treat wine, as all Barolo’s are, this is one that is reasonably priced at about $35. A beautiful garnet color in the glass, this Barolo has flavors of dried cherries, spices, and a nice finish. Surprise that special person in your life with this wine the next time you have pasta with a creamy sauce. Marriage made in heaven.
And last, but certainly not least, I would never dream of writing this wine blog about Italian wines without talking about Chianti. It would be sacreligious. Chianti is the most popular wine to come out of Italy and this is a nice dry Chianti for under $20. Made mostly from Sangiovese grapes, I have heard this wine described as deep and expressive. This well balanced wine is strong and velvety with flavors of aged fruit and spice.
If there’s a pasta I am known for, it is probably my Pasta with Green Olive Paste and 4 cheeses.’ There’s not even a name for it, I took a recipe and tweaked it so that I made it my own. Here’s the recipe.
Linguine With Green Olive Paste and 5 Cheeses:
In a blender combine
1 cup of green olives
A good helping of Olive Oil
A splash each of Red Wine Vinegar and Lime Juice
Blend. It’s supposed to be a paste, but a liquidy paste. Not solid paste. Again I apologize for no amounts, I never measure. Which is why I cook better than I bake.
In the mean time, cut up chicken breasts into bite size pieces and cook. I cook them in Maple Syrup sometimes just to add a different flavor to the pasta. Set aside.
Boil your pasta, I like using fresh Linguine. You can use your favorite pasta. Here’s something you must do. When you drain your pasta, RINSE it in water. It gets rid of that yucky taste and add about a teaspoon of olive oil and stir throughout the pasta. Trust me.
I use the pot I cooked the pasta in and combine the chicken, paste, real bacon bits and the 4 cheeses. You can vary on the cheeses, but I always use Parmesan and Mozzarella and Asiago as my base 3. The other 2 can vary. I use Jarlsberg and Cheddar, but you can mix it up, Add cream. Lots of it.
Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes And it comes out looking like this. This is a picture of the pasta I took the last time I made it.
So until next week “Applausi” – which means Cheers in Italian.