Wednesday, September 03, 2014

How to pair wine with food

Wine Tasting
Each dish has its own ideal wine to accompany that should be served at the correct temperature. It's necessary to consider the various types of wine, red and white, sparkling wine, liqueur, sweet, lively white, red frame, pink, soft white, aromatic, full-bodied red, each with its own degree of aging and importance, in order to offer good food and wine pairing in a menu.

The pairings between wine and food are numerous and varied. The agreements must be established between the smells and flavors of the wine and the dish tasted. Today more then ever the importance of food is higher on the world stage. Any excuse is good to talk about food and wine, if you consider all types of cuisines and fashions that are born every day: nouvelle cuisine, traditional cuisine, cuisine reinvented, fusion cuisine, cooking finger food, ethnic cuisine and ... so forth.

Because of the importance given today to the cuisine is inevitable to be able to bring the right wine to the food served on the table. Beyond the taste, which is always strictly personal, there are some basic considerations to evaluate when choosing a wine to pair with food. See Table of combinations.

How to pair wine with food 

1) Identify the components of the flavor of a food 
It is important to decipher the flavor components of a food to see what value and what to compensate with wine. Sweet, bitter, salty, sour, spicy, spicy, are just some of the flavors that result from a plate.

2) Identify the components of the flavor and structure of a wine 
Even with the wine must decipher the components and main characteristics. It is important, both for food and for wine, that once established the dominant flavors you choose whether to use a food matching that enhances or attenuates these aspects predominate.

3) Advice 
It is suggested to always look for a balance in the matching.

A delicate dish requires a light wine, while the strong flavors you respond in kind with an important wine.

Importance of the right wine 
After each mouthful of the same food, the taste buds send signals to the brain less and less strong, then you can appreciate that food less and less. Precisely for this reason it is important to match the right wine, you say "perfectly clean" the mouth combine harmoniously with the food so that every bite is as good as the first.

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Why a wine tour in Tuscany is a must?

The recent trend in the world of travel and tourism is to opt for wine tours. These tours are quite different any other kind of tour. Ne gets the opportunity to visit a vineyard and check out the entire process of wine making on their own. Sounds interesting? Well it is and if you want to opt for a wine tour then there is no better place than Italy. 

This destination boasts of so many different attractions like the Chianti wine tour , Barolo wine tour, Brunello wine tour.

But in order to enjoy this tour and in order to make the most of the opportunity one must take into account the following points
  • Once you decide on the date of your travel contact your local travel agent as well as an agent in Chianti. Tell them when you would like to visit. Once the agent in Chianti confirms the dates for the wine tour, you can go ahead and give confirmation to your travel agent so that he can book the flight tickets and hotel accommodations. It is an added bonus, if your travel agent can himself book your wine tour, then you won't have to take the extra headache of contacting the local agent out there.
  • What about the documents that you need to visit the vineyards? Is there any special kind of permit that you need? Collect information regarding this, or ask your agent.
  • Always opt for a guided Brunello wine tour so that the guide can assist you and tell you about the specialty of the vineyard and the kind of wine it manufactures. Also find out whether you need to tip the guide once the tour is over.
  • Don't forget to convert your currency. Don't expect to reach the venue and then do it. Ask your agent to do it on your behalf and collect the currency before you travel.
  • Now that your tour is booked, what about the temperature of the place. Gather as much information as possible so that you can pack your bag accordingly. Otherwise you will end up carrying unnecessary clothes.
  • Don't forget to carry your camera; after all you need to click photos, right?
  • Enquire if there is any accommodation inside the vineyard where you can stay and spend the day. It is the best way to soak in the natural beauty and enjoy the vineyard.
  • And finally ask the cost involved for the entire tour. As you are opting for a wine tour the cost will be a bit high end but trust me it is worth every single penny invested.
Once you consider all these aspects you will be at a better position to take your decision. So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and enjoy your holiday. Certain holidays are such that you remember them for the rest of your life. I can bet that this is one such holiday.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Montalcino and its Brunello

Like an island in the heart of Tuscany, the hill of Montalcino offers to those who ascend from the valleys surrounding it the feeling of a gradual conquest, the sense of arriving in a snug harbour.
Perhaps, because of its geographical position, far from the crowded highways or perhaps because of the purity of the air of an environment that is still intact and wild, Montalcino provides a host of stimuli for the imaginations of those who visit it, involving them in that magical relation between man and nature that, here, has the rare quality of being absolutely spontaneous. The people of this town have always been devoted to the labours of wood and field. But they have also enjoyed moments of proud glory as during the struggle for communal liberty in the 16th century, when they long resisted the besieging armies of Spain and France.
Anyway the best image of Montalcino is revealed primarily by wine, the most precious gift of a land that is at the same time hard and generous.
Already widely appreciated in past centuries, the oenological production had, even here, remained faithful to the canons of proven reliability of Tuscan tradition. It was only toward the end of last century that the first experiments were begun in order to improve and exalt the characteristics of a raw material and an environment no doubt quite special. Thus was born Brunello, as it is still created today, the fruit of a tenacious dedication, of loving watchfulness during the years of ageing in the winery before it is presented to a world that has learned to love it. It is the end and beginning of a legend that each bottle renews.

Territory of Montalcino: climate, soil and position of the vineyards

The production area coincides with the communal territory of Montalcino. Distributed over that territory, according to the best viticultural tradition of the environment and marvellously inserted into the landscape, the Brunello estates offer numerous opportunities to visitors interested in wine as well as natural beauty. Passing through characteristic villages and thick woods, the traveler will dicover well-tended vineyards, perfectly equipped and organized wineries, which are the secret and the pride of each estate from the smallest to the largest.
Brunello di Montalcino Biondi Santi
The commune of Montalcino is located 40 kilometers to the south of Siena. Its Territory, delimited by the Orcia, Asso and Ombrone valleys, has a nearly circular shape with a diameter of 16 km. and a surface area of 24,000 hectares.
The local economy is prevalently agricultural and, in that context, the vine occupies only a small share of the total surface: 50% is covered by wood and uncultivated land; 10% is planted in olive-grove, 8% is cultivated by vines of which more than a half are recorded in the list of the wine Brunello di Montalcino, the remainder is sown in grain, pastures and other cultivation. The hill of Montalcino having been formed in different geological eras, presents extremely variable soil characteristics, whether in constitution or structure.
For that reason, it is difficult to make generalizations that can be widely applied.
The lowest areas consist of terrains created by the deposit of alluvial material with an active stratum that is deep and quite loose, dating from the Quaternary period.
Farther uphill, the terrain, enriched by fossil material, has a reduced active stratum of soils formed by the decomposition of origin rocks, especially marl and limestone.
The terrains are moderately sandy, rich in lime, mingled with wide areas of volcanic soil, but tending to be thin. There are also other terrains derived from stratifications typical of the Siena area that are useful only for cultivation of cereals.
The climate is typically Mediterranean with precipitation concentrated in the months of May, October, and November (average 700 millimeters).
In winter, snow is not rare above an altitude of 400 meters. Monte Amiata (1,700 meters height), not far to the southeast, represents a natural barrier that protects Montalcino from most climatic adversities such as sudden downpours and hail-storms. The strip of hill of moderate altitude, where the greater part of the winemaking estates are situated, is not affected by fog, ice or late frost as are the surrounding valleys, while the normal, persistent winds ensure the best conditions for the health of the plants.
The fundamentally mild climate and the large number of days of serene weather during the entire vegetative cycle assure the gradual and complete ripening of the grape clusters.
The existence in the territory of slopes with different orientations, the pronounced modulations of the hills and the altimetric disparity between the lowl
ying areas and the higher district (Poggio Civitella), produce climatic microenvironments that are divers despite the relative compactness of the area.
The most widely used form of training of the vines at Montalcino is the cordone speronato, which involves short pruning (to two buds) of the variable number at the crown of the rootstock. The other form in use for Brunello di Montalcino is that of the archetto (the modified Guyot system), this involves a single vine shoot, pruned to 6 to 10 buds, which alone is responsible for the vine's vegetation.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Enjoy Your Wine But Enjoy Tuscany As Wel

November in Chianti Classico
There is, of course, more to Tuscany than wine. In fact there is more to Tuscany than food and wine! Like in most Italian destinations there are beautiful cities to explore, architecture to admire, great restaurants to enjoy, and picturesque villages to visit. You can also explore some of the region’s vineyards or sign up for organised wine tours to ensure that you experience the best of the local wine. Enjoy the Chianti by all means but it’s a good idea to plan ahead and have a few ideas of what else you want to do in Tuscany before you visit.

Visit Local Wine Makers

A trip to a local winemaker offers an excellent combination of a bit of learning alongside enjoyment of great wines. The Fontodi vineyard is found at the center of Chianti Classico country, just south of the town of Panzano. The entire vineyard and farm is organic, consisting of 80 hectares of vines and 30 hectares producing organic olives. Traditional methods going back centuries are used to produce wines with terracotta vats being used rather than wooden barrels to store wine. The owner Giovanni Manetti bucks the trend of many larger winemakers as she does not charge for tastings. You can visit the vineyard and not even be obliged to buy a bottle.

Wine Tours

Organized wine tours offer the chance of being escorted around some of Tuscany’s best vineyards,  and restaurants by tour providers who have detailed local knowledge. Do a little research and you can find tour operators running tours that last from a few hours to days or weeks at a time. Tuscan Wine Tours is a small company run by a group of local food and wine experts. It books tastings and sittings at some of the best local vineyards and restaurants, often negotiating discounted prices. Private tours can be arranged or you can join up with larger organised groups.


As tempting as it may be to spend an entire trip in Tuscany settled inside a wine bar or touring vineyards, there are plenty of other tourist attractions where visitors can work up a thirst and an appetite. Florence is arguably the cultural highlight of a trip to Tuscany. Famous in any case for its fine food and wine, the city offers some of the best architecture in Italy and some of the finest art galleries in the world. The Uffizi Gallery, Boboli Gardens and the Ponte Vecchio attract tourists from all over the world and the city can become almost overrun in the peak tourist months. Cruise ship passengers disembark at the local ports of Livorno and Pisa and head into Florence to sample the food and wine for a few hours so there are times when it is best to head out of the city and explore some of the delightful local towns. Lucca is less than an hour drive from Florence and its cobbled streets, tucked away behind Renaissance period walls offer quiet sanctuary from the bustle of Florence. You can walk round the city walls, admire the color of the surrounding countryside and then wander back into town for a walk around the impressive Cattedrale di San Martino.

Siena is another Tuscan town well worth a visit. Again, filled with medieval churches and towers, it is the type of place to simply lose a few hours wandering round and admiring the architecture. There are plenty of dining choices, ranging from the expensive delis and restaurants along Via di Citta to cheap osterias which will still serve up decent local wines. There are a number of vineyards not far south of Siena and some are reachable by local buses so you can leave the car behind.

Where To Stay

There is accommodation to suit all budgets across Tuscany. The big cities have hotels across all price ranges and there are some luxury hotels dotted around the Tuscan countryside. There are also plenty of budget hotels or cheap bed and breakfasts, campsites are common, and plenty of vineyards and farms also offer rooms. For real wine lovers, there can be little better than spending a few days staying in a Tuscan farmhouse, surrounded by vines and some of the best Tuscan wines readily available at cheaper prices than will be found anywhere else.

@Laura Chapman

Monday, December 16, 2013

Italian Wine - It's Not Just Chianti

Chianti Classico wines
Chianti Classico wines
Few places are more evocative of Italy than Tuscany, and its rolling hills and vineyards attract wine lovers all year round. Connoisseurs of Italian wine will of course enjoy sampling the variations of Chianti Classico on a visit to Tuscany but local restaurants will also serve up a range of wine from other wine growing regions. 
Travelling through Italy outside of Tuscany will also give visitors access to a range of interesting wines and grape varieties. 
Tuscan wines may be amongst the best that Italy has to offer but it is worth knowing a little about what else is available rather than sticking doggedly to a single type of wine.

Piemonte is one of Italy’s smaller wine regions which specializes in high-quality red wines. The town of Alba, south-west of Turin produces DOCG Barolo and DOCG Barbaresco which are strong, savoury wines made from the Nebbiolo grape. The area is also a source of two other grape types, the Barbera and the Dolcetto. To the north of Turin, DOCG Gattinara is a robust red wine produced through a combination of the Nebbiolo and Bonarda grapes. Piemonte though is probably best known however for its DOCG Asti, a medium sweet sparkling wine developed from the Muscat grape.

This region, with Milan at its core, is at the heart of Italy’s industry and commerce. It is not a huge wine producer but has some interesting wines including DOCG Valtellina Superiore and a popular sparkling wine, DOCG Franciacorta.

Bordering Tuscany, this is the wine-growing region famed for the medium sweet, sparkling Lambrusco, taken from the local Lambrusco grape. Most versions at around 8% ABV  are only classified as Vino de Tavola, whilst the products exported to other markets such as the UK can be as low as 3% ABV. The more critically acclaimed wines from the region include DOCG Albana di Romagna, DOC Trebbiano di Romagna and the red Sangiovese di Romagna.

The Veneto is one of Italy’s largest wine-producing regions after Tuscany and produces a number of wines including some speciality wines. From the Verona area are DOC Soave, DOC Valpolicella and DOC Bardolino. Using the Garganegna and Trebbiano grapes, Soave is a light white wine named after the local town whilst Bardolino and Valpolicella are light-bodied reds made from local black grapes including Corvina. Valpolicella, whilst often an unspectacular wine, can be made a lot stronger through a local method of drying the grapes indoors on wooden racks. Amarone della Valpolicella is produced by a method which ferments out all of the sugar present in the grapes, delivering a wine that can be up to 16% ABV - certainly a wine to drink in moderation. Another speciality version of Valpolicella that is produced via traditional methods is Recioto della Valpolicella. The more standard versions of Valpolicella are medium-bodied with moderate tannins. The Veneto region also produces a sweet Soave wine and a few cheap versions of Prosecco.

This region tucked away in the north-east of Italy produces wines that often blend a range of grape varieties. White wines might include a mix of grapes such as Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Bianco, Riesling, Verduzzo and Picolit, whilst grapes used for the regions red wines include Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Nero, Refosco and Merlot. The quality of winemaking in this area is generally pretty good and some of the better DOCs include Colio and Colli Orientali del Friuli.

Abruzzo tends to produce decent quality, mid-bodied red wines at reasonable prices. The most common grape is the Montepulciano and the region’s DOC wine is the DOC Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.

This mountainous region of Italy was actually a part of Austria until the end of the First World War and many locals along the Adige Valley are German-speaking. Wines from the regions will sometimes be labelled in German as “Sudtiroller” (from the South Tyrol) rather than as “Alto Ridge.” The cool climate in the area is suitable for the production of dry whites, often made from grapes such as Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco. Trentino-Alto Adige produces light and crisp wines as well as some medium-bodied reds made from Merlot and Cabernet-Sauvignon grapes. The best wines will be sold as DOC Trentino or DOC Alto-Adige. There is also a medium-bodied red from the region’s Schiava grape known as DOC Santa Maddalena.

Laura Chapman

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Vernaccia of Wonders

Winery in San Gimignano
San Gimignano, the city of towers, produces the most famous  Vernaccia wich  is a wine appreciated for centuries by popes and princes, first in Italy to obtain the DOC and later the DOCG , this is the only white wine to bear the genetic improvement of varieties, carried out through field trials. The objective of this action are improvements thousandth that only specialists know imagine for a virtually perfect wine to the palate of ordinary mortals. As for the remaining wine scene, besides the production of Chianti area, there is the recent creation of the DOC San Gimignano to give space to other types of wine.


Grapes: Vernaccia di San Gimignano, between 90% and 100%, the non-aromatic grapes authorized for the remaining 10%

Colour: straw yellow, tending towards golden color with age.

Smell: fine, penetrating, characteristic.

Taste: dry, harmonious, with a characteristic bitter aftertaste.

Alcohol: 11%

Aging: up to 2 years. Qualifications "Rierva", with 11.5% and one year of mandatory aging, then up to three years.

Food pairing: white meat


1) Gicciardini Strozzi - Farm Cusona
Loc Cusona San Gimignano SI
ph 0577950028

2) Montenidoli
Loc Montenidoli San Gimignano SI
ph 0577941565
Wine testing: Monday - Saturday book in advance

3) Panizzi
Los Santa Margherita 34 San Gimignano SI
ph 057794157

4) Pietraserena
via di Casale 5 San Gimignano SI
Ph 0577940083

5) Fattoria Pietrafitta
Loc Cortennano 54 San Gimignano SI
Ph 0577943200

Wine tour to San Gimignano

If you want to taste this special white wine of Tuscany during your holiday in Italy you can contact Italy and Wine to join the Friday sharing tour or to have a customized tour

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Chianti Classico DOCG

Chianti Classico, that is the oldest zone of origin of this famous wine, covers the territory of nine municipalities between Florence and Siena. Under the Gallo Nero symbol production is regulated by a code that seats down sever criteria right from the vine-growing stage: planting density of at least 3.350
Chianti Classico DOCG 
stocks per 2.5 acres and yields not exceeding 16,500 lbs, meaning a maximum of 5 lbs of grapes per plant. The wine is made from Sangiovese grapes (80 to 100 %) and possibly Canaiolo Nero (max 10%), Trebbiano Toscano, and /or Malvasia del Chianti (max 6%), and/or other grapes recommended for the zone of reference, from traditional Colorino to more recently introduced Merlot or Cabernet (max 15%).
Wine characteristics are: bright ruby color tending to garnet with aging; vinous aroma, with a scent of sweet violet, and pronounced finesse in the aging stage; harmonious, dry, flavorful, slightly tannic taste, which refines with time to velvety soft; minimum alcohol: 12 %. Chianti Classico is put on the market starting October 1st of the first year after harvest. There is a Riserva qualification for the wine that reaches 12.5% of alcohol content after a compulsory aging period of two years in barrels and at least three months in bottle. When young, Chianti Classico goes well with grilled red meats; mature, it is excellent with game and the most robust dishes.