“Benvenuto in Italia” – Welcome to Italy

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.

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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.

Photo: Benevenuto in Italia - Welcome to Italy... this week's wine blog at www.darlenemyers.com  And featuring a great recipe for my favorite Linguine dish.

Linguine With Green Olive Paste and 5 Cheeses: 

Paste:

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

Basil

Garlic

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.

Photo: Benevenuto in Italia - Welcome to Italy... this week's wine blog at www.darlenemyers.com  And featuring a great recipe for my favorite Linguine dish.

So until next week “Applausi” – which means Cheers in Italian.

Darlene

The Wonderful World of Chardonnay

It’s been called the World’s most favorite white wine!   And I have been enjoying it to the max this Summer.  This green skinned grape which originated in Burgundy, France is probably considered the most food friendly of the white wines.  People often ask which white and which red they should put on a dinner table, and I always answer Chardonnay for the white and Pinot Noir for the red.  That’s my personal opinion.

A new Chardonnay I have tried this Summer is the Carta Vieja Prestige 2010 vintage Chardonnay from Chile.  First Chardonnay from Chile I have ever tried and I was very impressed.  At $24.99 a bottle here in Nova Scotia, this is a beauty. This bright yellow elegant wine has tropical fruit aromas on the nose and easy to drink passion-fruit, banana and apple flavors on the palate.  Very food friendly – try it with pasta!

One of my go to favorites this Summer is this gorgeous Chardonnay from California.  J. Lohr has been producing quality wines for many years, and if you are a red wine drinker, I encourage you to try the gorgeous red wines produced by this winery.  The J. Lohr Chardonnay is pale yellow in color with aromas of nectarine, pear and apple.  It finishes with a toasty vanilla that will keep you coming back for more.  The other evening my mother and I were enjoying a glass, and my sister kept saying “I smell apples”.   We enjoyed this wine that evening with grilled chicken and it was a match made in heaven.

I cannot write a blog about Chardonnay without mentioning my favorite.  Le Clos Jordanne Le Grand Clos Chardonnay.  This is the wine that started my foray into white wine drinking and has set the bar for Chardonnay in my opinion.  Beautiful limestone and stone fruit aromas on the nose.  Youc an also taste the stone fruit on the palate, along with a buttery richness that I just love.  This wine recently won the Best Wine for Chicken in the Great Canadian Wine Match.  Say no more.

And if $83 is not in the budget, Le Clos Jordanne makes a beautiful wine in every budget.  The sister wine, Le Clos Jordanne Claystone Terrace Chardonnay is a beauty as well.  The clay and limestone soils produces a very elegant wine that is quite unique.  Gorgeous flavors of melon, pear and stone fruit and the limestone is quite evident.  I love it.

Thanks for reading, till next week Cheers

Darlene

 

 

 

Great New Italian Wines

Well it seems I have been on an Italian kick lately, and have discovered some wonderful new wines from the region.

I am on a mission to try every Barolo and Nebbiolo wine and I recently tried this one.  It’s hard to find one under $50, but I found this one which sells here for $34.99

The Beni di Batasiolo Barolo from the vintage year 2009.   A lovely red brick color in the glass and aromas of spices, herbs and truffles on the nose   A very balanced wine with nice tannins.  It’s dry, but many fine Italian wines are, and I find they go very well with food.  You could pair this with pasta, creamy sauces, chicken, hearty meat dishes and anything with a tomato sauce – and it would be heaven in your mouth.

You can’t talk Italian without talking Pinot Grigio, the light crisp go-to Italian wine.   This is a beauty of a wine, under $20, it’s just $17.99 here.  Harvested in northeastern Italy, this wine will go with so many foods.  (Try it with the Caprese Chicken recipe at the end of the blog).  Gorgeous flavors of citrus, pear and a hint of apricot, make for a delicate wine that you will want to enjoy again and again.

Allow me to introduce you to one of the best deals at your local Liquor store.  It is the Tre Saggi Talamonti, and it’s priced at $16.99 here.  It’s a fantastic wine at a fantastic price.   Coming from Central Italy,  this full-bodied wine delivers bold flavors of cherries, floral notes and juicy tannins.   Very food friendly.  Try it with everything from sausage to beef to my recipe for Caprese Chicken.

Caprese Chicken:

Are you ready for the easiest fanciest looking dish ever!

Chicken cutlets

Mozzarella ball cut in slices

Tomatoes

Italian Salad Dressing

balsamic Vinegar

Basil

Cook your flattened chicken cutlets in the Italian salad dressing.  (or make your own by pounding a chicken breast.  I am terrible at this, so I buy them flat already)

When they are just about cooked, add a slice of mozzarella, topped with a tomato and some fresh basil.

Drizzle balsamic vinegar and serve.  People will go WOW!  It will look fancy, and it is probably the easiest chicken dish ever!

Serve it with any of the wines above.  Enjoy

Darlene

Long Weekend Wine

Everyone loves a long weekend, and we wine drinkers are no exception.  As many provinces across the Country celebrate a long weekend,  I have put together a list of some new wines I have tried recently, that would be perfect for the long weekend.  Please feel free to share your favorite ‘Long Weekend Wines’ with me.

Pascual Toso Limited Edition Malbec 2011

I love finding a good deal and this wine is on the “Over 90 – Under 30” selection at the NSLC.  They are wines rated above 90, by Wine Spectator and are priced below $30.  This Malbec from the Mendoza region in Argentina is a beauty of a wine at under $22.  Gorgeous garnet color in the glass and as your bring it to your nose you’ll find yummy aromas of cherries and a bit of spice.  On the palate I loved the combination of cherries, peppercorn, and smoky oak.  Very elegant and the perfect balanced with a nice lingering finish.  Bring this wine to any BBQ or enjoy with pasta.

I do love a good crisp Sauvignon Blanc, and this one did not disappoint.  First time I have tried a Sauvignon Blanc from Chile and I was quite impressed.  Falernia is Chile’s most northern vineyard so some cooler temperatures come into play here.  Also, what sets this wine apart is that normally Sauvignon Blanc doesn’t see any oak.  95% of this wine is stored in stainless steel and 5% in oak.  Combined with mouth-watering grapefruit, lime and herbal notes, a perfect wine to accompany your favorite summer salad.

If you can find this next wine, buy lots of it.  A great price… under $20, and a gorgeous Zinfandel.   Many of my blog readers know I have an infatuation with Zinfandel, so when I saw Zinfatuation from the Napa Valley in California, I had to give it a try.  Medium bodied,  flavors of strawberry, spices, and oak.  It is fruity with good acidity and very food friendly.  Try it with any meal.

Lots of people have been asking me for my Southwestern Chicken Salad.  I have made it a few times recently, and have bought it into work.  Easy!!  Here it is… a great summer salad.

Darlene’s Southwestern Chicken Salad:

  • Breaded chicken strips  (done as per instructions in the oven or on the BBQ – brush with BBQ Sauce)
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Tomatoes
  • Can of Corn
  • Shredded Mozzarella and Cheddar Cheese  (You can buy the combo already shredded)
  • Real Bacon Bits
  • Green Pepper
  • Red Pepper
  • Ranch Salad dressing
  • Salsa
  • Tortilla chips

Combine your lettuce in a bowl.  Add diced tomato, chopped green and red pepper, small can of corn, Bacon bits, and the Shredded Cheese.   When the chicken strips are cooked, cut them up in bite size pieces and add to the salad.  ( I love the salad when the chicken is warm)

Combine Ranch dressing with Salsa.  Half and half works for me.  Blend  into salad.  Adorn with Tortilla chips, which are delicious to use as a utensil when eating this salad.

Enjoy… isn’t that easy!!  And so delicious.  Some people also add black beans.

Till next week – Cheers

Darlene

Wine Tasting with Friends

First of all I would like to take a moment to thank everyone for reading the blog in record numbers last week.   If it was your first visit, I hope you enjoy my weekly blog about wine and food.   To my dear friends who read it each week, thank you for your support on my journey with wine.

I had a little dinner party Wednesday night, and a few friends and I got together to try some new wines and enjoy some good food.  We started the evening with a refreshing Pinot Gris from New Zealand.

Single Estate - Pinot Gris

The Marlborough region of New Zealand is famous for Sauvignon Blanc, and this was my first time trying a Pinot Gris from the region.  Wow, it didn’t disappoint.  The 2012 Single Estate Pinot Gris, which is the one we shared, is only the second crop of Pinot Gris from the Ara Vineyard.  2011 was the very first release.  Very light and clear in the glass with aromas of pear and nectarine.  This vibrant crisp white wine has citrus flavors in the mouth and is very expressive.   Recommended pairings include your favorite summer salad, asparagus, or all by itself on the deck.  It is $21.99 here in Nova Scotia and very much worth it.

The next wine we cracked open was the Audrey Wilkinson Winemaker’s Selection 2010 Shiraz from Hunter Valley.   Big bold wine.  Can easily go with steak, BBQ ribs and other heavy grilled foods.    A dark red color in the glass with purple hues.   Big rich dark fruits on the nose with a hint of chocolate and a floral note.   Those dark red fruits are on the palate, aged in French oak, it finishes very smooth.  The winemaker is Jeff Byrne, originally from right here in Nova Scotia.  If you are a regular reader of the blog I had written about him before.  He went to Australia to surf, fell in love, and moved to Australia.   Started working in a vineyard, and then took the necessary education to start winemaking and the rest is history.   Jeff makes great wines.

One of my guests that evening was just getting into wine.  And although the Pinot Gris was her favorite, we did crack open to try a Beaujolais.

This was the one we tried, the 2011 Beaujolais Superieur.   Now a Beaujolais wine is very light and fruity.  It’s a thin-skinned grape and has very low tannins.  Any Beaujolais is the wine I generally recommend when someone wants to make the transition between white and red.   Light purple in color, fruity with hints of cherries.  This is a wine you would chilled, which again helps people making that transition from white to red.  Beaujolais wines tend not to be expensive, and this one came it at about $15.

The last one we opened was a Lytton  Springs Zinfandel.  Made up of mostly Zinfandel , it also has Petite Sirah and Carignan.   Because I served my Maple Dijon Chicken (check out last week’s blog for the recipe) and honey roasted potatoes with a couple of different cold salads, I needed a very versatile wine.  One very food friendly wine, and this is the one I chose.  The vines are 115 years old and it produces a spectacularly smooth wine.   If you were to check out some of the ratings on this wine you will see 93’s and 95’s.  Aged 14 months in the barrel,  the aromas of black cherry, mint, and vanilla make for a beautiful wine.

I have been asked to share my favorite salad, so here is the recipe.  The secret is in the homemade salad dressing, it’s my favorite.   Enjoy the Pinot Gris, or a nice crisp Sauvignon Blanc with this salad.

Summer Salad

 

Salad:

  • Leafy greens
  • Diced peppers (I use green, red, yellow and orange)
  • Cucumber sliced
  • Real Bacon made into bacon bits.
  • Blue cheese or grated Parmesan cheese  (pick your favorite)
  • Cranberries
  • Toasted Pecans
  • You can also add your favorite ingredients.  I have used beets instead of cranberries at times and fresh fruit like pears

Salad Dressing:

  • Olive Oil  (please use a high quality olive oil)
  • Balsamic Vinegar  (I have been experimenting with flavored balsamic vinegars as well)
  • Grainy Dijon Mustard
  • Fresh garlic
  • Brown Sugar

Combine all the ingredients, mix well, and drizzle the dressing over the salad.   Enjoy with your favorite wine.

Till next week, thanks for reading and In Vino Veritas  (In wine there is truth) .

Darlene