Friday, March 14, 2014

Wine Tastings Around Italy and NYC

To chase away the winter blahs, we attended 2 special Italian wine tastings in NYC this past weekend.

The first one was a tasting of special bio-dynamic (organic) Italian wines from the Trieste region, Skerk wines. Hosted at Anfora in the West Village, Joey Campanale's hot spot for bio-dynamic wines from around the world.

Trieste is very close to the border of Slovenia in the far Northeast corner of Italy. We tried wines made from the Malvasia grape and wines known as "orange" wines. Whites that are orange in color and unfiltered, new to my palate.

We go to these tastings not only to taste wines we would never have the chance to drink, but also to learn.

Each vintner has his/her own philosophy on growing and producing. It's nice when you get to meet the actual wine producer and hear the history of their vineyards and their passion about growing.

Some wines are aged in oak barrels, some in steel. Each terroir is different and once you find the style of wine you like, then you are on your way.

It's all confusing to me, especially the Italian wines and their strict laws, but at the end of each tasting, I always come out a little smarter (though, after 3 glasses, I forget much of what I've learned anyway!).

My favorite part of the tastings are learning what foods pair well with the wines: eg. how a certain cheese of the region paired with that wine can actually change the taste and improve the experience of drinking that particular vintage.

On to Italian Wine Merchants on E. 16th St.
This is the best spot in the city for a tasting.

Italian Wine Merchants was founded in 1999 by Mario Batali, Sergio Esposito and Joe Bastianich, as a boutique wine store.
Sold in 2005 to Sergio, they are the best source for fine, rare Italians in the city.

Their portfolio of Italian wines is AMAZING.
A single bottle is displayed on the shelf, then from a pulley system, brought up for the customer from the cellar.

Out of my league for sure, but we go to try special, hard to find wines and we always come back feeling like we were transported to Italy for the day and leave with a wealth of knowledge.

Saturday's afternoon tasting was the Super Tuscans and Cult Wines of Italy.


We tasted great vintages of Gaja as well as 2 other Brunello di Montalcinos that knocked our socks off.

Robin and Francesco guided us thru the regions and we learned the history of each grape and producer.

The whites from Lazio and Friuli were from old world grapes (Malvasia) that I had never tried before. These are the few white wines in Italy that actually get better with age.

Paired with beautiful artisanal cheeses and salumi. I am dreaming of those wines, and can't wait to meet them again.

A block away, a visit to the always crowded Union Square Greenmarket, which will be another post.

And after, we took a few block walk over to Gramercy Tavern, a NYC institution, for a delicious seasonal dinner.

If you are in the city for a few days, sign up for one of these wonderful wine classes/tastings, you will be glad you did!


Tracy S said...

oo this is a great post!! I read Sergio Esposito's book a few years ago and loved it. I have been looking for something cool and different to do this weekend, i will have to look and see if they have any tastings scheduled!

Stacey Snacks said...

There happens to be a GREAT red tasting tomorrow, we couldn't go, so we chose last weekend's event.

It's worth it!

Natalia B said...

Stacey - you are truly living the life! I too enjoy wine tastings although I haven't been to one in a while. I did take a class at Eataly back in January and along with the recipes and food preparations we did have a chance to sample 3 Italian wines, 2 of which I really enjoyed. I didn't realize Mario Batali had Italian Wine Merchants - definitely need to plan a trip there to do some tasting.

Stacey Snacks said...

Batali sold it to his partner Sergio Esposito in 2005, because his sites were on EATALY.
They have a great wine store in Eataly because Joe Bastianich is in charge. We have done a few tastings there as well. Great idea for this miserable winter!


Anonymous said...

You get around lady!
I thought I saw you last week at the Union Square Market! It WAS you!


John said...

What a great idea, to sign up for a wine tasting session at these high-end shops. This is on my to-do list.

Totally agree, a good pairing can really elevate the wine tasting experience. But if I am buying, I skip the pairing to see how the wine is on its own. However, if I've already decided not to buy, too expensive, then by all means, pair.

Stacey Snacks said...


Agreed, but these wines, at about $170 per bottle, were not on my buying list (this week, anyway!), so the nice big pours I got to try w/ the cheeses and salumi was great..........but these can definitely stand on their own, believe you me.


Ciao Chow Linda said...

What a wonderful way to spend a cold winter afternoon. I've found wines at the Italian wine merchants that I couldn't find anywhere else. Brunello di Montalcino is one of my favorites. I am curious about that Trieste winemaker - never heard of those Skerk wines, but I'm going to check them out this summer when I'm in Trieste.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Stacey-
Your post transported me! Thanks so much. Dennee LA

Bites from life with the barking lot said...

I loved this post! Sigh....