WHY BOTHER TO CHOOSE

Vino bianco con pesce. Con carne, rosso.” (“White wine with fish. With meat, red.”) Old Italian saying.

Old sayings have to get started someplace, but this one really makes me scratch my head sometimes. How did this one get started? Who really sat down and taste-tested different wines with different dishes and how did this person arrive at this conclusion? Really makes me wonder sometimes. After all, wine has been known as “The nectar of the gods” since time immemorial. Was it the gods who decided this? Which one in particular had the final say? Cast the deciding vote?

Traditionally, I feel that white wine has been paired with fish in part at least because of the color. Fish dishes are pale in color with the fish itself usually white. Maybe it is because of this, fish is expected to be light, almost airy and delicate to the palate. A white wine, a pinot grigio or a sauvignon blanc actually shares some of those qualities. But, fish is also cooked often with lemon, adding a citrusy flavor and bouquet. With that in mind, wouldn’t that mean that some of the flavor of the food would meld with the wine and instead of complementing it, it would instead only be more of the same, delicious though it may be. There may be no contrast, no boldness.

The same could be said for pairing reds with beef. Few things in life can rival a good, juicy steak or a perfect meatball. Typically, a hearty wine such as a chianti is preferred. Again, though, there is no contrast. A real bold red wine, which is also used in Sunday gravy, while it will not overpower the meat, may to some tastes get lost and mix the flavors into one. Maybe a chardonnay would be a nice change.

My own opinion is simple: drink what you like. Life is too short to drink bad wine or to worry about which wine goes with what. Food and wine were given to us to enjoy, to fulfill and to add to life’s experience. Try not to limit your enjoyment. If you should find a wine you enjoy, stick with it and experiment. You will be able to see for yourself which pairings are best for you.

The old saying above probably began as something of a myth and has grown through the centuries. Think about it though. People once thought the earth was flat. That the sun and stars revolved around the earth. It took bold, adventurous people to dispel those myths and maybe that is what we need to do now.

As time goes on you will find your own favorites, your own sense of pairing. These minor indulgences are limitless, bound only by your imagination, your sense of adventure. This world has produced many fine wines and some very fine foods. Taste them. Experience them. Enjoy them. Never be guided by a myth. For to do that, would truly be a myth-take.

Please,if you like reading this blog, tell your friends. If not, tell me.

OPICI VINO BIANCO

“the fish bottle wine”

The Opici wine bottle invokes so many memories that it is even hard to put into words. Years back when I was first married (which goes back quite a ways) I was drawn to this wine because of the distinctively styled bottle, which was at the time my first consideration. But, after buying it a few times it became a favorite and graced my table on many evenings and at special occasions.

Memories are funny. We do tend to edit out the bad and dwell on the more pleasant ones which is a good thing because it keeps us young, keeps us upbeat and gives us a perspective on a life well-lived. Opici wine is just such a memory. When you get past the shape of the bottle, the “fish bottle wine,” the unofficial name, is just delightful. Light, airy, citrusy and just totally delicious. Hints of lemon, lime and grapefruit are easily noticeable. It cannot be classified as say a pinot or a sauvignon though because it is neither. It is a rare,beautiful blend of chardonnay, sauvignon, trebbiano and verdicchio, with the latter adding some body, while the former all bring a fresh bouquet and a delicate balance.

Imported from the Adriatic coast on the western side of the Italian boot where summers are long and sunny giving the grape ample time to ripen this is a family operation since its inception in 1913. The Opici family had to endure hard times through Prohibition and the Great Depression. Through hard work, a commitment to family first and to a good product the family business was able to grow and prosper. They first imported wines from Italy. But after Prohibition was lifted in 1933, they persuaded a friend in California to send them one full railroad car of wine and the family was back in business. Every family member had a job from growing and blending and even to delivering. Hubert, the youngest was in charge of that department. In 1942, though, he took a new position in the Armed Forces and was away for a while taking part in a small skirmish overseas. But in 1946, he was instrumental in purchasing the Cazanove Wine Company in New York and getting the family business rolling again.

There is a real fascinating history of this company which goes on further. Suffice it to say though that their story really revolves around family and wine, a great combination. I wholeheartedly recommend this wine, not only for the nostalgia, but for the taste and the satisfaction it brings. Pair it with cheese, broiled flounder or trout and you have a truly sensation meal awaiting.

A GIFT FROM THE SEA

shrimp scampi with pinot grigio

If wine is he blood of life then food is the heart. Whatever your preference, beef, pork, fish, it always pays to put a little time into your cooking. That is what gives it the love that all dishes crave, but it also give you the chance to show off your creativity, your self. Never be afraid to experiment and to try new dishes. Cookbooks are generally an OK guide, but no book can really satisfy your taste and individuality, without a little bit of YOU in it.

The recipe I have chosen is a perfect example. I can remember my grandmother’s kitchen, where her cooking always contained “some” of this or “a little” of that. Scampi lends itself to that style. Don’t like ORZO, use elbows, or make it elegant with linguini. Make it classic by adding some broccoli or colorful with sliced cherry tomatoes Whatever your taste, use it to add to your own good life. Use good ingredients and the finished product may just surprise you. It’s not rocket science. It’s cooking.

And always remember, cooking is something you should enjoy. If you don’t enjoy it…send out!

SHRIMP SCAMPI

1 box Barilla Orzo

1 lb shrimp peeled and deveined (you can use frozen but fresh is always better)

1/2 stick butter

2 tbsp Olive Oil, EVOO

salt and pepper to taste

pinch oregano

1/8 cup white wine (pinot grigio or sauvignon)

2 cloves garlic finely chopped

small piece onion finely chopped

Place shrimp into a lined 9×12 pan. In a saucepan combine butter, garlic, onion salt and pepper. Let the butter melt slowly, 3-4 minutes then pour it over the shrimp. Using your thumb and forefinger crumble oregano over the top and let it sit for a few minutes. Set the oven to 375. Add the wine just before you put the shrimp into the oven. Cook for about 20-25 minutes or until the shrimp plumps and turns pink. Less time if using frozen shrimp.

Meanwhile, boil some salted water add about 1/4 to 1/3 of the box of ORZO. Cook for 9-10 minutes for al dente. Drain and add some of the shrimp sauce, just enough so the pasta won’t stick

To plate, spoon the pasta onto a flat dish and ladle the shrimp and sauce over it with bits of onion and garlic.

Top it off with some parmesan reggiano and enjoy.

Simple, easy, but with a little time and a dash of love, you will have created a very memorable dinner. To the GOOD LIFE!!

Cantine Colosi Terre Siciliani

“In vino veritas” (In wine there is truth). Sicilian Proverb
Sicily is an island located on the southernmost tip of the “boot” of italy. In truth, the island looks like the boot, or the mainland, is kicking it away. But this beautiful island, with its mountains, small towns and vineyards has become somewhat of a destination in recent years. This discovery has led to a renaissance in Sicilian culture, especially in the cuisine. Being half Sicilian myself, I have enjoyed this life for all of my years, so it is very easy and a pleasure to share it.

Food and wine are driving forces in Sicily. Foods tend to be robust and flavorful and satisfying to the most voracious appetite. Wines here are no exception A typical Sicilian red wine, if there is one, is a deep purple color, aromatic and flavorful with hints of fruits and sometimes dark chocolate. Until recently Sicilian wines were used mostly for blending as they were thought to be inferior. But that has now changed and Sicily is producing vintages at least equal to the more well known regions.

Cantine Colosi is located on the island of Salina which is part of the Sicilian Archipelago. The warm Mediterranean climate produces some of the most sought after wines in the world, and some of the most varied. Here, the Colosi Family conducts it business as it has for many years. The volcanic soil is rich with minerals and the exposure is ideal for growing the grapes. The vines are planted on terraces and include a blend typical to that area. This marriage of the grape produces a very satisfying, rich tasting wine with flavor that honors its equally rich heritage.

The Colosi Rosso is a blend of Nero d’avola, an indigenous grape and the most widely planted on the island, and Nerello Mascalese, grown on the slopes of Mt. Etna and considered by many to be the defining grape of Sicilian wine. Each contributes to a strong grape taste with visible tannin. It is aged first in stainless steel tanks, then for 6-12 months in french oak barrels, which adds another dimension to the strong flavor. The aroma speaks of red fruits, blackberries and strawberries.

Because of the taste characteristics of this wine it lends itself to heavier, stronger tasting meats and well-aged cheeses. Pair it together with beef ribs, venison or wild boar, or a hearty soup such as roasted garlic soup. An aged Romano or Locatelli cheese is also a good fit because they have the character to add to the taste of the wine rather than get lost in it. This is a wine which deserves a good meal along with it. One look and you can tell it has the flavor. A quick sniff will tickle your senses as you inhale its rich bouquet. But to taste. To taste is to live. To truly enjoy what is good about Sicilian life.

Purchased on line at WINE.COM, I do recommend this wine highly and rate it 9 out of an almost impossible to achieve 10 grapes. It is a truly wonderful addition to your family table as it is to mine. So, “Saluti e centanni!”

Very Pleased to meet you

Hello. And welcome to my blog. Thank you so much for checking it out and I do hope that you will enjoy it and check back often.

This blog is about food, wine and the good life which they bring. Let me start though by saying that I am not a chef, nor am I a connoisseur. But I do like food, all different kinds of food and I do enjoy a glass of wine either with food, or just on its own. Since I am of Italian heritage I kind of feel that this gives me a pretty good idea of what the good life looks like. So settle back and enjoy reading what I have to say. You have a lot to look forward to, I have a lot to say, and hopefully we will all have a good time doing it.

So, let’s start with wine. Also called “The nectar of the Gods,” wine has been around in some form about as long as man has been domesticated. Many historians believe that wine originated quite by accident. As primitive farming and foraging for food developed, it became necessary for our ancestors to learn about food storage. Berries and such were stored normally in a sort of stone container carved out of rock. Eventually, through a natural fermentation process, these berries became the base of what we now know today as wine. Ancient man learned not only that it was tasty, but also that it had a certain effect, a natural high so to speak. Thus, the good life was born.

Over time better processes were learned and wine became a staple. It was used with meals mostly, but also became a bargaining chip used by ancient mariners as currency. During the period of the Roman Empire production spread throughout the known world as the legions sought to give themselves some of the comforts of home.

Later during the Dark Ages monks were responsible for keeping brewing and aging methods alive by transcribing them and storing them in their libraries. So really if we fast forward to today, we are living the fruits of life which ties us to our ancestors.

Now, this is a very brief history and there is so much more to it. We will go into it later on from time to time, but we will also explore various types, vintages of wines from all over the world. I realize that this whole article is kind of primitive and simple, but it is only the first of a hopefully long series which will get a lot better. So, sit back and enjoy. Grab yourself a glass. We have a lot to talk about!