Thursday, June 09, 2005

A Service Announcement Of Sorts

I have not been posting as much material as I would like on this Blog, primarily because the past couple of months have been in large part devoted to packing – we have sold our house in downtown Florence and will be moving to Strada in Chianti next week. I was planning to use my portable and cellphone to connect to the web in the interim, but today a bottle of bubbly sprayed both of us and the notebook didn't take it well. Since the disk I need to configure my wife's computer to work with the cellphone is packed, I'll be without an internet connection from Monday until we're in the new house (the 20th) unless the repair people who are washing my computer can get it to work.

Tasted at Vinitaly: A couple of Dolcetti from Batasiolo

With the arrival of summer in the Northern hemisphere it’s time to think about lighter, defter wines that have bracing acidity and will work well with the stock in trade of hot weather – grilled foods, fried foods, and other things that can either be cooked quickly indoors, s as to avoid heating the kitchen, or cooked outside where the heat simply rises. Dolcetto is perfect in these situations, and here are a couple of wines from Batasiolo.

Batasiolo Bricco di Vergne Dolcetto D’Alba 2004
This is a Dolcetto d’annata from high altitude vineyards, and is lively ruby and has a powerful bouquet with n abundance of forest berry fruit and bitter almond mingled with acidity and alcohol. On the palate it’s rich and direct, with bright cherry fruit supported by considerable acidity and warmth that flow into a long sour cherry finish. It’s scrappy with body, and will drink well with grilled meats, served with fairly fatty side dishes along the lines of potato or pasta salad. In short, a perfect cookout wine.
2 stars

Batasiolo Arsigà Dolcetto D’Alba 2003
This is intended to be a more important Dolcetto than the above, and also spends three months in barriques. It’s deep almandine ruby and has a powerful jammy bouquet mingled with spice; it has nice depth but is more restrained than the Bricco Vergne. On the palate it is full and smooth, with powerful red berry fruit, but reveals the influence of the hot 2003 summer in the form of reduced acidity that makes it heavier and less agile; it will drink well with rich, fairly lean meats or light stews.
1 star

Friday, June 03, 2005

Wine for Risotto?

Got a question a couple of days ago, and apologize for being slow to get to it, but we've been packing in preparation for moving -- for months, it seems like. In any case, here we go:

Greetings. I watched a television food show filmed in Italy -- the subject was Risotto, and they mentioned a wine (or grape). I thought I'd remember and didn't write it down. It wasn't a name I was familiar with, they said Italians buy a bottle of this when there's a birth and hold it until the child is ??? old...I'm blank and intended on purchasing this. I know this may be too vague for you to help me, but if you can, I am truly grateful.

Though I do have winemaking friends who set aside cases at the birth of a child, there is no particular wine all Italians set aside to mark the happy event. What people will do, if they can afford it, is buy a few bottles of the best local red wine, be it Barolo or Barbaresco, Amarone della Valpolicella, Brunello, Taurasi, or whatever, and start breaking them out when the child reaches majority (18). But as I said there's nothing specific across Italy.

Since risotto is most common in northern Italy, I'd hazard a guess that the risotto you saw was made with either Barolo, Barbera, or Barbaresco if they were talking about Piemonte, or Amarone or Valpolicella Classico Superiore if they were talking about the Veneto. If they were talking about another region, for example Lobardia, it would be a different dry red wine. The recipe is straightforward:


  • 2 1/2 cups (500 g) Carnaroli or Vialone Nano rice

  • 3/4 cup (150 g) unsalted butter

  • 1/2 an onion, minced

  • 1 quart simmering beef broth (lightly salted bullion, including vegetable if need be, will do)

  • 3 cups dry red wine, warmed

  • 2 cups (100 g) freshly grated Parmigiano or Grana Padano (this will likely be more than you need)

  • Salt to taste

Heat half the butter in a pot, add the rice, and cook over a very low flame, stirring lest it stick and burn. In the meantime, sauté the onion separately, in 1/4 cup of butter, until it is lightly browned. Keep warm.

When the rice is done frying and the grains have become translucent, begin adding the wine, a glass at a time, and letting it evaporate between additions. Then add broth, a ladle at a time, and stir in the onions. Once the rice reaches the al dente stage turn off the heat, stir in the remaining butter, most of the cheese (bring the rest to the table for those who want more), and serve. The wine? More of what went into it.

Enjoy! Or, if you want to be decadent, use a white sparkling wine.