Wine for Sunday Sauce? What do you drink? Which wine pairs best with Sunday Sauce, thee Supreme Dish of Italian-America? Is it Chianti, most iconic of all Italian Wines? Perhaps Aglianico or Piedrossa from the region of Campania where the roots of Italian-American Sunday Sauce Gravy begin? Or a Sicilian Wine like Nero d’Avola or Norello Mascallese? If you trace the roots of Italian-American Sunday Sauce and the people who created it, Sicilians are among the top of the list. Now, I know since you came to this page that bottle of Carlo Rossi “Paisano” just had to catch your eye. And I’m sure most of you are asking the question, “Carlo Rossi Paisano, are You Kidding?” The answer. “No, Not Really.” Well I’m not saying it’s the best choice. OK so we have to match a good wine with that fabulous Sunday Sauce of yours. What to drink?
I’m here to tell you, it can be one or more of many wines, and don’t count a wine like Carlo Rossi Paisano out. “You’re Joking?” You say. No. Listen, this can be your wine, maybe not. I myself have drank some of the World’s Priciest, and so-called greatest wines in the World, “Trophy Wines,” like; Sassicaia, Gaja Barbaresco. La Tache, Chateau Petrus, Cahteau Haute Brion, Petrus, Chateasu Cheval Blanc, Chateau Latour, all the great Brunello and barolo wines, great vintage Champagnes, you name it, “I’ve had it.” And with my knowledge of wine, I can tell you, a lot of it is hype, and Marketing BS, and sometimes not. And I’ll tell you this, do not be so much of a snob, a Wine Snob. You see that Carlo Rossi, with all the prestigous wines that I’ve consumed over the years, I’m not above drinking that. Carlo Rossi .. The wine has special meaning and affection for me. It’s one of the two wines my uncles always bought for our Sunday Family Meals. Meals of Meatballs, Sunday Sauce “Gravy,” Ravioli, Veal Marsala, Chicken Cactitore. My Uncles Tony and Frank always had either Carlo Rossi paisano or Gallo Hearty Burgungy on hand. They were their wines, and they only had other wines if someone brought something like Bolla Valpolicella, Rufino Chianti or some other wine. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Paisano or Gallo Hearty Burgundy are great wines, “No.” But they are not that bad. They are Italian-American Wines made by Italian-Americans and have social significance to Italian-Americans. These wines are part of our history, as are the wines from the great Robert Mondavi, The Mondavi Family, Francis Ford Coppola and other Italian Families in America.
So what am I saying? What wines to drink with the Sunday Sauce or any home-made Italian American Meal? Well, actually most of the time I do drink wines from Italy with my Sunday Sauce or whatever Italian food we’re making. The Carlo Rossi is just when we eat over Uncle Tony’s house with Uncle Frank and all the wonderful meals with Aunt Fran, Aunt Helen, Mommy, Cousin Tony, and my brothers and sister and the whole family. No, I’m not above drinking Carlo Rossi or Gallo if my Uncles are serving it. When we’re eating at home, we usually love to drink Chianti, most times, sometimes Barolo, Barbera, or Brunello. But most often it’s Chianti which I love and it goes quite well with just about anything we eat, especially Meatballs, Sausage, and Sunday Sauce. Chinati comes from Tuscany and is a medium bodied wine made mostly from Sangiovese (The Blood of Jobe), and with small percentages of other native Tuscan grapes like; Colorino, Malvasia Nero, Cannaiolo, or Ciegolo.
One thing I must say is, that I usually don’t like wines like Big, concentrated Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah from California or Australia. To me, these are the last wines I would ever want to drink with Italian food. Reason. These wines are usually to rich, and because of that, they clash with the food instead of complementing them. the wines you want to drink should have good flavor, but be light to medium in body and weight. Not Bif, Fat, Rich, and concentrated. “No Bueno!”
La TAVOLA Is Aailable in Paperback and KINDLE on AMAZON.com
Giuseppe Vajra with His Wonerful BAROLO CERRETTA LUIGI BAUDAN 2008
The Big Guns of Italian Wine were out at the annual Tre Bicchieri Tasting held at the Metropolitan Pavillion on West 18th Street yesterday. M. Rallo of Fiarrato was on hand with 3 Glass Winner Rebecca 2010 as was famed wine-maker Sebastiano Rosa who makes a great Sardenian Wine based on 100% Carrignan. It’s called Barrua and a joint venture with Cantina Santadi and Mr. Rosa. Sebastiano just so happens to be the winemaker of Italy’s mos
t prestigious wine “SASSICAIA” which won Red Wine of The Year this year for the 2009 Vintage at the 2013 Tre Bicchieri. Wow, this is the “Best Vintage of Sassicaia” that I’ve had in the last 10 years. The wine is perfectly balanced, and when a wine is in perfect balance, there’s nothing else to say except that “It’s as Good as It Gets.” Bravo Sebastiano! Sebastiano Rosa is a member of the Incis Rochetta family who own the famed Tenuta San Guido Estate that makes Sassicaia in Bolgheri on the Tuscan Coast. Sebastiano’s cousin (Cujino) Piero Incisa Rochetta, who is usually on hand at the Tre Bicchieri Events was nowhere to be seen today. No matter, I had a nice little chat with the affable Sebastiano before I went on to taste more wine.
More wine yes. And if I was to pick out just two wines on the day that really blew me away, it was the Sassicaia 2009 and a great Barolo from my friend Giuseppe Vjra and his offering of Barolo Cerretta Luigi Baudana 2008. This wine was amazing and a perfect example of what a great and classical Barolo should taste like, with wonderful Earth, Mushroom, and fruit. The wine, if I must use the phrase again, was in perfect balance and a text-book Barolo. So if you know Barolo, you know what I’m talking about, it is a great wine. Basta!
So another Tre Bicchieri in the bag, my 17th, and as usual a great day to drink great Italian Wine, but even more so, see and hang-out with a few Wine-Making friends from Italy and fellow New York Italian Wine Guys. A great day.
SASSICAIA Winemaker SEBASTIANO ROSA with Author / New York Wine Guy Daniel Bellino-Zwicke .. Sebastiano holding a bottle of one of his other great wines that he makes in Sardinia “Barua” of 100 % Carrignano
RED WINE of THE YEAR Tre Bicchieri 2013 is SASSICAIA 2009
Winemaker Sebastiano Rosa
Marco De Bartoli of Firriato
“La TAVOLA” by Daniel Bellino-Zwicke Available on AMAZON.com
Yes there was a Triple Header of Brunello the other day. Well two days and for me any way. The Main Event of Benvenuto Brunello, or as we New York Italian Wine People call it, simply “The Brunello Tasting” which is held every year in New York and a few other chosen cities around the globe. The tasting is for the release of the latest and current vintage of one of Italy’s and the World’s Great Wines, Brunello di Montalcino … Wines made of 100% Snagiovese Grosso aka Brunello. Wine made only in Montalcino (nowhere else in the World). Wine made in the highest standards of wine-making and according to the standards and specifications of The Consorzio Del Vino Brunello Di Montalcino and the Italian Goverment. Brunello must be aged for 2 years in oak barels and 2 years in bottle before being released 4 years after the vintage and 5 years for Brunello deemed Riserva. Thus at this Brunello Tasting in 2013, The Brunello Consorzio and its producers of which 52 of more than 200 were represented on January 31, 2013 at New York’s Gotham Hall (A Regal Setting). So at the 2013 Brunello Tasting we are tasting the 2008 Vintage Brunello, along with the 2007 Brunello Riserva, along with Rosso di Montalcino 2010, Moscadello, and other proprietary wines (Super Tuscans).
So The Brunello Triple Header, you ask? This is my phrase for my two days of events during Benvenuto Brunello 2013 .. Game 1 of the triple-header is Benevenuto Brunello (The Brunello Tasting) itself and as a whole, a wonderful thing in itself and much anticipated by any and all Italian Wine Geeks as myself. Well I normally don’t use that term for myself, in fact I never have. This is the first time, only done to make a point in just a couple words “Wine Geek.”
OK, that’s that. Game 2 of The Brunello Triple Header is the Brunello Seminar-Tasting conducted by Kevin Zraly. It was a marvelous and memorable event for all of the lucky few able to wrangle a seat. Yes, it was! Marvelous!
Brunello Triple-Header Game 3 ? Not for the 100 or so few seats at Kevin Zralys Brunello Seminar, nor the, I guess 2 to 3 thousand people who attended the larger Brunello Tasting, Benvenuto Brunello. Game 3 was a private Tasting of the wonderful Brunello of The Count Francesco Maroni Cinzano from his World Renowned Estate “Col D’Orcia” in Montalcino. We tasted through 8 of the Counts fine wines, which include; Rosso di Montalcino 2010, Brunello Col D’Orcia 2008, the current vintage and featured wine of Benvenuto Brunello. The Count then tasted me on the fine Col D’Orcia Brunello 2001, and then his Brunello Poggio Vento 2004. Stop! Wow! Do you know what Wow means, in wine-speak? Well it means Wow, “This is Phenomenal! It doesn’t get better than this.” I was bold over by this wine, the Poggio Vento Brunello Riserva 2004. The Count told me that the wine was just released. OK, now, at this point in time, January 2013 Montalcino is releasing the 2008 Brunello and 2007 Riservas. Poggio Vento is a Brunello Riserva that is not released after the 5 years require, but 3 years later, for a total of 8 years aging before the wine is released from The Col D’Orcia Estate and ready for sale. And let me tell you, this wine is something special. A Perfect Brunello that any other Brunello could aspire to. Naturally this wine was started in the vineyard with meticulous care of the vines of which produced perfect Brunello Grapes (Sangiovese Grosso). I know this, as this wine could not be as great as it is without perfect fruit. Or if not perfect, for those who might think there is “no perfect,” then as close to perfection that is at all possible. It was acheived in the grapes that went into Count Cinzano’s Brunello Riserva Poggio Vento 2004, “Beleive me.” Then with the wonderful fruit, the grapes had to crushed and fermented to, “if not perfection, then darn close to it.” The, near perfect aging in various oak barrels, and then the selection of which of the many barrels in the Col D’Orcia Cellars would be used to make this, The Count Cinzano’s “Premier Wine” Brunello Poggio al Vento Riserva. The wine, the Poggio al Vento Brunello Riserva 2004 turned out, “I’ll say it, perfectly.” I just can’t think how a Brunello could taste better or more wonderful, and I thank The Count for tasting me on it personally. That’s quite an Honor my friends, and one I never take lightly whether I’m tasting with the Count Cinzano, Marchese Piero Antinori, Vittorio Fiore or anyone. If they make wine, and great wine, to me, they are almost God-Like. Don’t get me wrong, this is just a metaphor. Let me put it this way. A few years back, when I was The Wine Director of the at the time very hot Bar Stuzzichini, the Marchese Ferdinando Frescobaldi was in town and came to pay me a visit and taste me on his latest vintages of his Frescbaldi Nippozzano Chianti Rufina Riserva, his “Montesodi” Chianti Rufina Riserva and few other wines. I love the Marchese Ferdinando. He’s a really wonderful person, quite affable, down to earth (though he is of Great Florentine Nobility), an all around great guy. So the Marchese was pouring us his wine, he spotted the bartender and asked him if he wanted to taste some wine. The young bartender did. We had a great visit and Ferdinando Frescobaldi left us, off to see some friends. After he left, I tried to explain and put into perspective to the young bartender, exactly who had just poured him the wine. I told him, “that’s Mickey Mantle.” What? Well, I never heard anyone make the analogy or statement as I did that day. For me it was natural and sincere and it just came out of me. For that’s sort of what The Marchese Ferdindando Frescobaldi and a few others is like to me. Most Americans over 40 will know who Mickey Mantle was, and they would have loved him and held him in high regard as one of the Greatest to Ever Play The Game of Baseball, a thing very important and dear to Americans. Much more so than wine is to Italian, believe it or not. Growing up, I loved Mickey Mantle, held him in the highest regard and still do. I was fortunate enough to meet and chat with Mickey a few times and have a couple autographed baseballs from Mickey to prove it. So i told the kid, that man is to Italian Wine what Mickey Mantle is to baseball; a legend, The Greatest of The Great, loved and held in high regard by many, and one of the most important and influential men in his field. Well I didn’t say all that to the kid, I just said he was “The Mickey Mantle of Italian Wine.” Well I don’t think the kid got my point or really cared, but by saying this, anyone who knows a bit about wine will know what I’m talking about and how I feel about some of the Great Men of Italian Wine (Women too).
“Game 2 of My Brunello Triple-Header”
KEVIN ZRALY TALKS BRUNELLO “Brunello Seminar-Tasting Gotham Hall”
KEVIN ZRALY at BRUNELLO SEMINAR-TASTING
Sports a BRUNELLO Jacket … “I WANT THAT JACKET KEVIN” !!!
The affable Kevin Zraly held a Brunello Seminar at The New York Brunello Tasting 2013 …And for the few lucky enough to attend, it was quite a great event. Great, yes great, and Mr. Keven Zraly in my book is quite great when it comes to knowledge of wine, his Love and approach to it, drinking, tasting for his own pleasure and knowledge as well as the Drinking, Tasting, and Education Kevin imparts on those in his classes, readers and owners of his famed Windows On The World Wine Course (Book), and anyone as I’ve Just said “Lucky Enough to Attend One of Mr. Zraly’s Wine Seminars,” in this case for one of Italy’s and The World’s most esteemed wines and one of Kevin’s 3 Favorite Wines (Kevin’s words) Brunello di Montalcino.
“Don’t Touch It! Don’t touch it !!!” shouts Kevin Zraly, near the beginning of his seminar. He know there are always people on every level of experience at any one of the many wine seminars he has conducted over the years, including the most experienced and at least one or maybe several people who have never ever been to a Seminar Wine Tasting like this in their lives. This maybe their first one, “Don’t Touch Don’t touch!!!” It’s quite funny and a bit shocking the way Kevin does these as he sets the tone for his style of wine seminar, which is “No Muss No Fuss No BS,” and as Mr. Zraly says no English Poetry, in an effort to say there will be none of that overdone pontification, just straight normal talk, and talk even a beginner could grasp about wine, and with Kevin his approach will make you love the object and the subject of “Wine” even more. That’s what a great wine educator does. There are not many better than Kevin Zraly, “if any?”
Yes, the seminar was quite wonderful. If being at the most important Brunello Tasting of the year wasn’t enough, and being the first in the World to taste the 2008 Vintage and 07 Riservas, in a beautiful setting like Gotham Hall, in The Greatest City in The World, and as the Head of The Brunello Consorzio stated this glorious day, “New York Is The Greatest and Most Important Market in The World For The Producers of Brunello di Montalcino.” Yes Sir “It Is.” Yes those at The New York Brunello Tasting were among-st the first in the World to taste these fine wines, and Mr.s Zraly made that point, as well as stating how wonderful the Wines were, that we were very fortunate to be drinking them, and that Brunello was along with Bordeaux, one of his 3 Favorite wines in the World to drink. Myself and Michael Colameco (Who is The fine host of “Real Food” one of TV’s Best Cooking Shows on PBS) sitting next to me at the seminar, we both surmised the third of Kevin’s 3 Favorite Wines of The World had to be Burgundy. This we need to find out.
“Smell it 3 times. Cover the glass with your hand. Sniff! Toast the person sitting next to you and drink. Think about it for 1 minute at 15 second intervals. Do you still taste it? What do you taste?” Well, we tasted 8 very fine offerings of this fabulous wine, Brunello di Montalcino. The wines were all wonderful, and being at Benvenuto Brunello in such a gorgeous setting as Gotham Hall and being led in a Tasting of Great Brunello by one of the World’s Greatest Authorities on Wine, this was a combination that was unbeatable. Being in the Italian Wine and Restaurant Business for more than 25 and writing for another 8, I can tell your that I’ve been to many a incredible wine event, like: a Vertical Wine tasting and Luncheon with the Marchese Piero Antinori, Dinner at Spark’s Steak-House with Jacopo Biondi Santi and his wines, as well as lunches and dinners on many great wine estates in Italy. The kind of events people would kill to be able to attend, I’ve been to many, and this Brunello Seminar tasting with kevin Zraly shall be filed in my head with some of those other great wine moments. It was most enjoyable, and I’m so glad I made it (almost din’t go).
So Bravo Brunello! And Bravo Kevin for your passion, love of the wine, and the way you lead others, in your very Zraly Direction.
Daniel Bellino Zwicke
BRUNELLO SEMINAR with KEVEN ZRALY .. January 31, 2013 …. Afternoon Seminar
WINES: BRUNELLO di MONTALCINO
1. Palazzo – 2008
2. Fanti -2008
3. Tenute Sivio Nardi – 2008
4. Donatella Cinelli Colombini – 2008
5. Uccelliera – 2008
6. Palazzo – Riserva 2004
7. Col D’Orcia 2001
8. IL Poggione Riserva 1999
An overall assessment and thoughts on the 8 Brunello’s we tasted. First off, they were all very good to wonderful to remarkable. A great line-up including some excellent producers and very fine vintages of recent years. It seemed an overall consensus that pretty much everyone (Writers, Restaurant People, Wine Professionals,and Hobbyists) in the room liked each and every wine we drank, all wonderful wines, and with Kevin “Cheer-Leading” us with his love of wine and Brunello, I believe everyone enjoyed these wines even more than if they had tasted all 8 in another manner than this great tasting-seminar.
As all wines were wonderful, I must admit that there were 3 wines that we all got a bit more excited and super-charged over. These wines were; the Brunello Uccelliera 2008, the Brunello Col D’Orcia 2001, and the Brunello IL Poggione 1999 … Without going into any, as Kevin Zraly would say “English Poetry” these 3 wines were just wonderful. The kind of wines you light up over and just saying “Wow,” is enough to say that they had everything you want in a great Brunello or any great wine, great aroma, Wonderful Taste combined with “Perfect Balance,” and simply greatness.
Again, a great tasting, overall Benvenuto Brunello, lots of great wines, wonderful people, and a fine Seminar-Tasting of Brunello conducted by Mr. Kevin Zraly. Again, Bravo!
Daniel Bellino Zwicke
BRUNELLO Di MONTALCINO FATTORIA Dei BARBI
Daniel Bellino-Zwicke Tastes The Great Wines of Col D’Orcia, multi vintages of Col D’Orcia Brunello Di Montalcino with the Estates Esteemed proprietor, The Count Franceso Muroni Cinzano at a Private Luncheon in New York ….
The Beautiful Abbey of SANT ANTIMO, Montalcino with Brunello Vines in foreground …
Brunello Col D’OrciaRiserva “Pogio Al Vento” 2004
As I’ve said and written before, Daniel makes probably the finest Bolognese Sauce in the country, among other dishes. Daniel besides creating America’s first ever Venetian Wine Bar, has now created and given America another great wonder, in his marvelous new book “La Tavola” Italian-American New Yorkers Adventures of The Table, a wonderful book with wondrous stories of Sunday Sauce, Meatball Parms, The Feast of The 7 Fish and much more. La Tavola is one of the finest books ever written on Italian-American Food and Cuisine, with some excellent wine info and stories as well.
This book take the read on a journey through the Italian-American culinary world; the Food, Cooking, people, and time spent at the table with wonderful stories of all the great dishes, rituals, and the realm of Italian America.
This book is a “Must Read” for anyone interested in Italian food and food in general.
One of the great traditions of the Italian American enclave in the U.S. is the ritual of Sunday afternoon when the entire family gets together for Mama’s or Nona’s famed “Sunday Sauce.” What is it? Well there are a number of variations on the theme. Most Sunday Sauce’s are made with Italian Sausage, Braciola, and Meatballs. Some people make theirs with pork ribs, beef neck, and possibly chicken thighs and backs. These meats are slowly simmered for several hours with tomato, minced onions, garlic, celery, and carrots. I generally like to make my Sunday Sauce with sausage, meatballs, and pork ribs. Other times I’ll make it with sausage, ribs, and braciola. An old tradition in some families is that mother or grandma would start the sauce early on a Sunday morning, get it simmering away for a couple hours on top of the stove, then put it in the oven for a couple hours while everyone goes to church, the sauce slowly simmers and when you get back home, the sauce is ready.
The Sunday Sauce that my mother would make was with sausage, meatballs and beef braciola. My memories are vivid watching my mother stuffing the braciola with garlic,
parsley, Pecorino, and pignoli nuts, then sewing up the bundles with a needle and thread so they would hold together while simmering in the gravy (many families all over the New York and around the country simply call Sunday Sauce “Gravy”). Another fond memory was helping my mother roll and shape the meatballs.
As for me, my Sunday Sauce will vary depending on my mood. One thing I love to do when making the sauce is the addition of pork spare ribs, which not to many people use, I love it.
Whenever people eat my sauce, they go nuts for the ribs and some are surprised cause they might never have had them in a sauce before. They didn’t know that you could use pork spareribs. The ribs are traditional with some but not everybody. It is quite a shame for those who don’t add the ribs because they give the sauce some wonderful flavor and they are incredibly delicious to eat after braising in the sauce for a couple of hours. Whenever I make the sauce and I’m dishing it out to friends and family, I always make sure that I have my fare share of the ribs. Pork ribs cooked in this manner, simmering in the sauce are oh so succulent and tasty. They are far beyond compare. “They are Out-of-this-World!!!” The friends, one-by-one, go nuts for them. “Yes they are most than tasty!”
And what to serve with the Sunday Sauce you ask? It should be a short macaroni; rigatoni, ziti, or gnocchi are best.
The rituals of cooking, serving, and eating Sunday Sauce is a time honored one. It is a beautiful thing. If you mention the term Sunday Sauce to any number of millions of Italian-Americans, the wheels start turning in their heads. Thoughts of how tasty it is, all the different components; the meatballs, sausages, braciola, (maybe ribs, beef or pork neck), the pasta, and the gravy itself.
They think about sitting at the table with friends and or family, people they love. They think about the antipasti that will start the meal and about some good Italian Wine, maybe a nice Chianti. They think about the warmth in the air, loved ones, Dino, Sinatra, and of course, the
Sunday Sauce itself. “It’s a beautiful thing!!!” If you’ve never done it, “Try it!” If you haven’t cooked one for some time, plan a get-together soon. “Sunday Sauce, it brings people together,” in a most delightful way.
“SUNDAY SAUCE” is excerpted from Daniel Bellino Zwicke’s
upcoming book “La Tavola”
When it comes to great Italian Food, in a city (New York) that is known to have the Best Italian Food in the World outside of Italy, it’s hard to beat Bar Pitti, which is why Bar Pitti may very well be the “Best Italian Restaurant” in New York City! Yes!
Wait a minute, scratch that “maybe.” No, Bar Pitti serves without a doubt, thee “Best Italian Food in New York.” You don’t think so? name one that is better. And please only qualified people please. No followers or Hack Food Critics like
Who could compete? Maybe Babbo, Del Posto, Elio’s, Lupa. They are all good, but none as good and consistent as Bar Pitti.
Il Mulino is absolutely “Aweful!” An “Overpriced Lackluster Restaurant” with horrible ambiance, mechanical annoying service, and food that is merely good, and no better and insanely “High Prices.” It’s a place for “Followers” who run with the crowd and wouldn’t know real good Italian Food if it came up and Bit Them in The Ass.
Babbo many would say. Well Babbo is quite good, but just can’t hold up to Bar Pitti with more of a true Italian feel, great food at truly real Italian Prices. Babbo is a great Special Occasion restaurant, but for everyday eating, Babbo doesn’t even come close to Bar Pitti for “Great Quality Price Ratio,” and even not considering the prices, if they were the same, though the food at Babbo is very good and I’ve had a few very enjoyable meals there, I have been disappointed a couple of times, something that has “Never” happened to me at Bar Pitti and I’ve eaten there more times, yet never been disappointed, not once, and always had a great time. So even if the prices were the same, Bar Pitti still has an edge, with Better More Consistent Authentic Italian Food than Babbo.
How bout Maialino, Laconde Verde, Osteria Morini, and others? As MC Hammer would say, “Can’t Touch This.”
So if you’re looking for Thee “Best Italian Food in New York” there’s one name, “Bar Pitti.”
Coda d’Vacinara (Braised Oxtails) 150 Points on a 100 Pt Scale
Bolito d’Manzo (Boiled Beef) Taste a whole Lot Better than it sounds!
Polpettine d’ Vitello (Veal Meatballs)
Fegato al Salvia (Calves Liver sauteed w/Sage)
Paparadelle con Sugo d’Coniglio (Pasta with Rabbit Ragu)
PUNTARELLE Wild Roman Greens Salad w/Anchovy Dressing
by Daniel Bellino Zwicke