Negretto – Italy’s Secret Wines

Negretto – Italy’s Secret Wines

The first person to walk in the door was Giorgio, a late forties Italian winemaker with wild grey hair and a big smile. He walked right over to us, greeted us with “Buongiorno!” and a kiss on each cheek. We were like old friends, despite the fact that we’ve only met each other once before, and we don’t share the same language. The only thing we share is our love of wine. And on this day, we were there for Negretto. We had arrived at Agriturismo Gradizzolo before anyone else from our lunch party. Gradizzolo is set at the edge of a national park, which also seems to double as the small region where the Pignoletto grape is grown. Quite nearby is Corte d’Aibo, one of the first of the Bologna Hills wineries we visited. Also nearby, is our friend Alessandro’s winery, where we drank Pignoletto sparkling wine the year before. We wound along the edges of the national park, where Google Maps inferred we were about ready to fall off the face of the earth. And, there was Agriturismo Gradizzolo. We sat in the dining room waiting for Giorgio, and the rest of our party, to start our Negretto wine tasting. Find what other travelers have to say about Agriturismo Gradizzolo at TripAdvisor What is Negretto? Negretto is an ancient grape, from the Roman times. The word Negretto translates to something like dark, or black. The grape itself and the wine it produces, are so dark it’s almost black. In earlier times, the grape was so hard to grow that the wine in its natural state was nearly undrinkable. As a...
What is Lambrusco – Italy’s Secret Wines

What is Lambrusco – Italy’s Secret Wines

When you think of Italian wines, what do you think of? Do you ever think about Lambrusco? More often it is the Tuscan wines, like Sangiovese, Chianti (which is made from Sangiovese), Barolo and Montepulciano. Maybe you think of Prosecco, or God forbid Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio. It’s no secret that I have, perhaps, an unhealthy fascination with sparkling wines. My motto for years has been that Champagne and sparkling wine should not be reserved merely for special occasions. When living in Chicago, with quite the collection of wine in our “cellar”, we would often drink bubbles merely because it was a Tuesday night. I think everyone should do the same.  What is Sparkling Wine? Champagne is a term reserved for sparkling wine that is produced in the Champagne region of France. End stop. If someone is making sparkling wine in Italy, Spain, Portugal or the US, it legally cannot be called Champagne. It must be called sparkling wine. This is something I learned very early on in my sparkling wine drinking days. During our early trips to Italy, I loved drinking Prosecco, a type of Italian sparkling wine. I love drinking Cava, a type of Spanish sparkling wine. And now I love drinking Lambrusco, a wine made from an ancient grape that is seeing a Renaissance of sorts. Just don’t call it Champagne. Why Lambrusco? Lambrusco is a wine that I was wholly unfamiliar with, despite my years of learning about wine. It was entirely possible that it may have been served to me in the US, but it was not one I knew of before our first trip...
Episode 15: Becoming Human Foie Gras in Emilia Romagna

Episode 15: Becoming Human Foie Gras in Emilia Romagna

On this week’s episode of the With Husband In Tow food travel podcast, we become human foie gras, in our favorite place to eat. On our fourth trip to Emilia Romagna, we continue to experience the amazing food and wine, and stunning hospitality that has become the reason why we continue to travel there. There is just something about having wine makers encourage us to drink more and more, and about chefs wanting us to try so many different dishes. We talk about what it is like to be human foie gras, and what it means to be cumulatively stuffed. Mentions on this week’s Food Travel Podcast: Yummy Italy Trattoria Dai Munghai in Monteveglio, Italy Agriturismo Gradizzolo in Monteveglio, Italy Tratoria Bertozzi in Bologna, Italy Giorgio Erioli of Erioli Wines, Colli Bolognesi Subscribe on iTunes! Subscribe to the With Husband In Tow podcast on iTunes and listen to a new episode every Tuesday! If you like the podcast, leave a review! You can also check out our podcast on Stitcher here. And, we’re also available on GooglePlay! Check Out This Week’s Episode of the Food Travel Podcast: http://traffic.libsyn.com/withhusbandintow/Ep_015_Becoming_Human_Foie_Gras_in_Emilia_Romagna.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: iTunes | Android |...
Albana – Italy’s Secret Wines

Albana – Italy’s Secret Wines

When I first started learning about Italian wine, my knowledge was limited: Chianti and Pinot Grigio. Chalk it up to a mess of trips to Tuscany and Umbria, along with a messed up number of bottles of Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio. If you would have told me at the time that I would be touring small wineries in the Romagna region of Italy learning about a grape called Albana, I wouldn’t have believed it. I’m not a trained sommelier, although I considered it as an option when I was first thought about leaving the law. My palette is not all that sophisticated. I sort of know what I like and what I don’t. I’m the farthest thing from being a wine snob. I am just as likely to be drinking a free glass of wine in a hotel executive lounge as I am drinking a fancy bottle of something special. I can usually tell when a wine is cheap, and can tell when a wine is not. But, it’s not always the most expensive wine that wins my heart. When we talk about being wine bloggers, we are really talking about wine travel, or wine tourism. For us, we love the opportunity to tour wineries, meet wine makers, and often indulge in great food and wine in a fabulous setting. I don’t often write about a particular grape and how it tastes. And I don’t offer tasting notes or compare vintages. I do enjoy talking about the story behind a wine, the winery and the wine maker. Exploring Albana in Romagna The first thing I learned about Albana is...
What is Cave Cheese?

What is Cave Cheese?

Writing about cave cheese is not going to win me any Google search traffic, because well, who out there is searching for cave cheese on the internet? I mean, who has ever even heard of cave cheese, or in Italian formaggio di fossa. Certainly folks in Emilia Romagna know formaggio di fossa, and maybe Italians in general know about cave cheese. But, this is a foodie find. Something only hard core Italian food lovers will know about or search for. Because of its rarity, I knew tracking down cave cheese in Emilia Romagna was a must do. This experience was like something you’d see Anthony Bourdain talk about, or even better, Andrew Zimmern, because as far as cheese goes, this is certainly a Bizarre Food. Visiting Fossa Pellegrini After a long morning tasting Italian wines with Helena from Yummy Italy, we started making our way to the village of Sogliano, high in the hills of Romagna. We were southeast of Bologna, and northeast of Florence, almost to Rimini and the Adriatic Sea. This was a part of Italy we’ve never visited before. Earlier in the day it was hot and moist, with blue cloudless skies. By the time we reached the hill top village of Sogliano al Rubicone, grey skies had overtaken Emilia Romagna. A mist had set over the hills, making the entire experience seem a little, well, eerie. We climbed the hillside in Helena’s car, in the grey and mist, to see a man about a cave filled with cheese. This is what I love about traveling in Emilia Romagna; I never before would have assumed those words...
Tasting Balsamic Vinegar in Modena

Tasting Balsamic Vinegar in Modena

When I was first introduced to balsamic vinegar, I knew it as something to drizzle over a salad, perhaps with some sun dried tomatoes, gorgonzola and other gastro-buzz words that were popular before the world of Anthony Bourdain and celebrity chefs. It was not until our first trip to Emilia Romagna, though, that we started to learn about tasting balsamic vinegar. As we learned about real balsamic vinegar, I came to appreciate the thickness and the sweetness of a good aged balsamico. The tastings we did when we first toured Emilia Romagna involved starting with a supermarket quality vinegar, and would move up in quality from there. Each balsamic vinegar tasted a little sweeter than the last, and felt a little thicker on the tongue. During a recent trip to Modena, we learned that tasting balsamic vinegar involves a whole lot more than that. We’ve worked with Helena at Yummy Italy before, tasting Italian wines and learning about quality artisan gelato. I knew that Helena is a certified balsamic vinegar taster, which of course, is a thing in Emilia Romagna. When she offered to teach us how to taste balsamic vinegar, I figured it was worth a shot. I don’t have a very sophisticated palette. Even when it comes to wines, I kind of know what I like and what I don’t like. I mentioned this fact to the wine maker at Corte d’Aibo in the Bologna hills last year. I suggested this lack of sophistication was why I could never become a trained sommelier. He replied that I needed to drink more. He was right. Like anything else,...
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