It's an old saying, but in Italy, what grows together truly goes together. If you love Italian food like I do—the pasta, the prosciutto, the olive oil—exploring Italian wine is a fun next step. Let's start by getting to know a few of the essential grapes.
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Lagrein has been planted in Alto Adige for over 500 years. Despite the long history and ample plantings in the region, up until the last couple of decades this dark and rustic red wasn't really ever taken seriously.
Grappa can be thought of as the final production of a grape, as it is made from the pomace—skins, seeds, and stems—after the fruit has been used to make wine. The tradition of grappa finds its truest home in the Northeastern regions of Italy, where farmers turned the leftovers of their harvest into what was then seen as a healthful elixir.
I headed to Alto Adige, in part, to find inspiration again. I'd maneuvered a tough summer, and to be honest, I didn't care about wine much at the moment. "Try to relax and enjoy your trip," my friend told me before I took off. "Italy can do magical things," she promised.
Frankly, I'd rather not tell you about this wine. I actually don't want you—or anyone—to know about it because I am fearful that then the prices will inevitably go up and the availability will go down, and I'll be left (poor) with wicked withdrawal symptoms and resentment.
Confession: I love a recipe from the Campbell's soup website. It calls for simmering chicken breasts in creamy stock, balsamic vinegar, sundried tomatoes, oregano, and kalamata olives. You sprinkle the whole thing with feta cheese and serve it up over orzo. I've eaten this dish with plenty of different wines that were all... fine. California Pinot Noir was overwhelmed; a northern Italian Barbera was bright but not bold enough; New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc made it feel like everything was fighting. But last week, I found the perfect match.
Italians think third-wave coffee is insane; specialty-coffee crazy baristas think Italians are out of date and out of touch. But who's right? We explore both sides of the caffeinated argument.
Where I live, the asparagus has arrived. It is the best time of year. The hills sprung to life overnight, transformed from dull gold to radiant green. And the season's first rosé beckons from the shelf. I must have it.
A while back, I mentioned having met my 'sexy bartender boyfriend' at my old waitressing job. Seven years later, the sexy bartender and I got married. And so with Valentine's Day looming, I thought I'd tell you about one of our most perfect recent dates and suggest to you one of the most perfect date wines.
How do you make pizza—a near-perfect food—even better? By drinking the right wine with it. If you think of wine as a sauce for your food, you'll want to make sure it's a sauce that works with the dish: complementing the earthy flavors of mushrooms and sausage, or contrasting the richness of the cheese, standing up to the bright acidity of tomato sauce and countering the spice of pepperoni. We gathered pizza-pairing advice from 11 top sommeliers from around the country.
If you happen to fall in love with wine, you should prepare to spend most of your life confused, constantly humbled, relearning over and over again what you thought you'd already grasped. I suppose, in some ways, this is similar to falling in love with a person.
Wine geeks like to talk about their "aha moment": the wine that was so very delicious and profound that they scrapped their entire life plan and committed themselves to wine. But I don't recall my "aha" wine. Instead, what I remember is the first wine I actively DESPISED. But would I still feel that way if I cracked a bottle open today?
I have to admit that the range of home cooking in my apartment is pretty limited, particularly on weeknights when the ingredients of time and proper planning tend to be lacking. My boyfriend's go-to dish is "Chicken a la Frank's"—basically a chicken breast dropped into a pan with some Frank's hot sauce. When backup is inevitably required, I usually opt for simple, tomato-based pasta dishes. And what better to bring to a table of simple Italian cooking than rustic Italian wine? Fortunately for us, enjoying Sangiovese doesn't have to mean blowing the budget.
I remember the moment I became interested in beer. Standing amid the ruins of the Roman Forum, the Coliseum looming ahead of me, lit up and devoid of tourists at three in the morning, I was struck with awe. For most, awe in these circumstances might be derived form the historical perspective offered by these surroundings. But I looked down, jaw slack, at the plastic cup in my hand and thought, "what the heck is this beer, and why does it taste so good?"
You want to know what happens when Italy (and its coffee) stops being polite and starts getting real? Check out Naples for an authentic, old-school, and defiantly no-nonsense look at espresso culture.
There are secrets hidden in more places than just the ruins and catacombs that dot this ancient city—the baristas at one of Rome's best cafes are notoriously tight-lipped, too.
A sweet, accessible marriage of modern and Old World charm: Am I describing the coffee in Florence, or the city itself? Both, actually.
Venice might be a picture-perfect city, but a good espresso is hard to find. (Hard, but not impossible.)
This past January, I went on an espresso-fueled crusade through Italy, sipping my way through the country on a quest to better understand the cultural history and traditions that supposedly surround the beloved beverage there. I got a chance to make the ultimate coffee nerd's pilgrimage: A tour of the La Marzocco espresso-machine factory.
Can it be that the French press was actually invented by—sacrebleu!—an Italian? Today, we'll investigate the origins of this user-friendly coffee brewer.