Damilano Levinquevigne 2011 Barolo

by J.T.

Y'all know I'm an Italian girl. I can get on board with all kinds of varietals and blends from my homeland.

But this Barolo?

Be still my heart.

Hubby and I had this phenomenal Damilano Levinquevigne 2011  Barolo at Bice in San Diego. Verdict: this combo platter of five different Nebbiolos is a blend well worth your attention. 
 

Tasting Notes

The nose was almost too easy: lush berries, orange, tobacco, rose and violet, but the finish was heady tannins and rough leather. 

Price Point

You can find it for a very reasonable $17.84.

Pairings

We had this with a cheese pairing, 7 different kinds of Italian cheeses, including a smoked provolone that made the smoke in this Barolo stand up and howl. No doubt it'd be delicious accompanied with gamey meats.

Produttori del Barbaresco Nebbiolo Langhe DOC 2010

by J.T.

Let's talk about Italian reds, shall we?

There are many wine-producing regions in Italy, but one of the most prolific is in the northwest of the country, in an area called Piedmont (Piemonte, in Italian). Nestled at the base of the Alps, Piedmont produces some fine wines, particularly from one of my favorite grapes: Nebbiolo. Since Piedmont is has lots of hills, temperature and terroir vary wildly—and so does the grape. You've heard of Barbaresco and Barolo, right? This is where they come from. Grown in a lower elevation and warmer temperature than their Barolo brethren, Barbarescos tend to be a bit lighter and fruitier; Barolos usually pack a bit more punch.

Wasn't that a fun geography lesson? Context is important; you'll see why in a minute.

Operating in the town of Barbaresco, the Produttori co-op is one of the finest in Piedmont (trust me, I’ve been there), and this Langhe Nebbiolo is hands-down my favorite for the price.

What Chianti is to Tuscany, Nebbiolo is to Peimonte.


Tasting Notes

I’ve had several vintages, and the 2010 is a real standout, perfect for lunch or a light dinner of cheese and antipasti. It’s supposed to be lighter than its Barbaresco cousin, but I find it has more flavor and depth. It’s very leathery, with a touch of earth combined with fresh red fruits and a bit of menthol, which really makes it stand out. A bargain every day table red.


Price Point

You can find this particular vintage for $18.99.


Pairings

A friend to meats and cheeses, this wine would pair beautifully with antipasti, roasted mushrooms, and entrées starring roasted beef or game.

Cavicchioli Lambrusco Dolce

by J.T.

Y'all. It's really, really hot outside.

Thankfully, I've been in Colorado this week visiting family, so I've been spared a bit. But I'm headed back to Tennessee today, and I know what's waiting for me:

Humidity to the nth degree. 

Oh, southern summertime . . .

When it's hot outside and I need a little something boozy, I know just the cold beverage to reach for: 
 

Cavicchioli Lambrusco Dolce


Tasting Notes

Served ice-cold, Lambrusco is the perfect drink to sip in the summer shade. Light-bodied  and bubbly, it's sweet and fruity, tasting of strawberries, raspberries, and cherries.

Price Point

You're going to love me for this: it's only $6.99.

Pairings

Think antipasti and cured meats: salami, pepperoni, prosciutto, cheese. Lambrusco and nibbles—a great party combo!

Belle Ambiance Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

by J.T.

Happy Friday, lovelies. 

Care for a young Red (wine, not head) suggestion today?


Tasting Notes

Belle Ambience made a pretty good Cabernet Sauvignon in 2014. I can't quite place the nose—it's more than earthy, it smells a bit green, like fresh oregano. Oddly enough, it's super plummy palate, like blackberry jam, an intriguing combination. It's got a luscious body, nice and thick, medium-lowish alcohol, and glowing tannins that are long on the finish. It's young and bright, and mellows a bit if you let it open up for about 30 minutes or so.


Price Point

We can all agree with this one. I believe I got mine at my local wine merchant for about $9.99. Check out the vinter's website to see where you can find it.


Pairing Suggestions

Bright, acidic tomato flavors would go nicely with this young red: something along the lines of spaghetti with fresh marinara sauce, a caprese salad with lots of fresh basil, or paella would be scrumptious. 

Kenwood 2011 Yulupa Zinfandel (with two bonus recipes!)

By Amy

I promise I'm not shirking my white wine duties.

But. 

I really couldn't let you go another day without hearing about this zinfandel. And what I paired with it.

As for the wine, Kenwood's 2011 Yulupa Zinfandel is just delightful. Fruit-forward and balanced, with a nice touch of acidity and mild tannins, this zin was a refreshing to drink while I prepared dinner. And the price isn't bad, either; it was about $15 at my local wine shop. 

But I daresay this wine was even better when I paired it with pan-seared red snapper and mango-avocado salsa. 

Oh. Yeah.

I owe you an apology: I don't have any photos of this dish. I know, I know, that's a cardinal sin in the food blog world. But Boyfriend and I scarfed it down too quickly to snap photos (fish gets cold fast, you guys), so you're just gonna have to trust me on this, ok?

You need to make this fish.

I don't even like fish that much, but I'm trying to justify when it's ok for me to make it again (answer: this weekend).

That is how much you need to make this fish. Ok?


Pan-Seared Red Snapper

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil (or your favorite high-heat-compliant oil: olive, canola, etc.)
  • Two 6-oz. red snapper fillets (keep the skin on, if you'd like a little crispy texture—it looks weird, but tastes so good) 
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin—for dusting the fish


Directions

  1. In a 12-inch skillet, heat the coconut oil on medium-high, until melted and rippling.
     
  2. Sprinkle both sides of the fillets with spices (a light dusting will do—you don't want to go overboard, you've got a salsa to eat with it!).
     
  3. Place the fish in the pan, flesh-side first, cooking for 5 minutes per side. The fish is done when it flakes easily with a fork.
     
  4. Top with mango-avocado salsa, and serve alongside a light salad, or green beans with cilantro pesto (want this recipe? tell me in the comments).


Mango-Avocado Salsa

Ingredients

  • 1 mango, diced into ½-inch pieces (Don't know how to cut a mango? Click here.)
  • 2 avocados, diced into ½-inch pieces
  • ½ one medium red onion
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (or a light-tasting olive oil)
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped
  • Juice from ½ lime
  • Salt and cayenne pepper, to taste

Directions

In a big ol' bowl, mix all the ingredients. Feel free to make this before the fish, so the flavors can meld together in the fridge while you're prepping the snapper.

*FYI: this makes about a quart of salsa, and it's perfectly acceptable to eat this with a spoon. Not that I'm speaking from personal experience.