This just in…wine goes with food. Well, admittedly, this isn’t exactly breaking news, but a quarto of Italian and Spanish wine events were keen to remind the trade and press (and consequently, consumers) of this synergy. And, while it’s true that wine is not a part of a balanced breakfast, it is certainly a welcome addition to the lunch and dinner tables. A fifth event highlighted the intersection of art and wine.
The Italian Wine Commission hosted numerous producers as well as several local restaurants at its Upper East Side building, underscoring the summer-friendly nature of Italian sparkers, whites and rosés. Tasting these wines amidst the heat and humidity of the day reinforced the claim that these wines lend themselves to hot weather imbibing. This event also kicked off the Italian Dine-Out campaign, during which participating NYC Italian restaurants will offer special prix fixe menus from June 26-July 6, 2013. A three-course lunch will set diners back $26.00, while dinner is $40.00 per person; beverages, taxes and gratuities are, of course, not included in those fees. For more information on this promotion, see the Italian Trade Commission’s blog or visit Open Table to make a reservation.
Italian cuisine was also lauded at the Delverde Pasta event at GD Cucine, which launched its special Pasta Sommelier series in late June. In partnership with Zonin, noted Prosecco producer, and Lucini Italia Company, a leading producer of Tuscan extra virgin olive oil, the dried pasta brand is on a mission to teach American consumers about high quality, authentic Italian pasta. With cooking demonstrations performed by the “Pasta Boys,” series attendees will have the opportunity to touch and taste how Delverde’s strict production process yields the best pasta. The remaining one-hour lessons are being held at GD Cucine, Williams-Sonoma and ICE. Visit Delverde’s website for the full list of dates and locations and to book your seat.
Pairing wine and art instead, Italian producer, Allegrini, celebrated 30 years of its La Grola wine with a party at the Guggenheim museum, providing attendees with the chance to view the new exhibit, Aten Reign, by American-born artist James Turrell. As proud supporters of both the Guggenheim in Venice as well as in New York, the event location was not surprising. Nor was the Allegrini’s recent commission of a new label from Italian artist, Milo Manara, to commemorate the 30th vintage of this historic wine, a blend of 80% Corvina, 10% Oseleta and 10% Syrah.
Depicting an image of farmer’s wife with a crow on her shoulder, the label evokes the legend surrounding the La Grola vineyard. The legend tells the story of a farmer named Benjamin who cared for an injured grola (the word for crow in the Veronese dialect), but neglected his vines in the process. Once recovered, the grola repaid the kindness by flying through the vineyard and ripening the grapes with a mere touch of his wing. The grapes became known as Corvina from that point forward.
Showcasing the diversity of Spanish wines, José Peñín of his eponymous wine guide led a tutored tasting of wines from the Jorge Ordoñez portfolio. While the small production size of these wines means that they will be almost impossible to find outside of the tasting, the seminar did highlight Spain’s range of wines, especially from the lesser-known regions of Rueda, La Mancha, Alicante and Valdeorras, and their ability to produce high quality wines at a good price point (most were at or under $17.00 SRP).
Wines of Rioja hosted a special event starring Steve Olson (aka Wine Geek), who extolled the virtues of Spanish wine (and Rioja, especially), while chef John Keller, of The DL, slaved over a hot grill. Keller’s cuisine featured Rioja-based marinades and reductions, bringing the intense flavors of these wines to the food itself and further ensuring its pairing potential. Capturing the essence of summer in a single bit, Keller’s watermelon/feta cheese skewer was doused with a white Rioja reduction and mint sauce bursting with flavor. Longtime friends, Olson and Keller have also paired up in the dining scene, with the debut of Apartment 13 later this summer (located at 115 Avenue C, NYC).
With their bright acidity and fresh fruit character, the blancos, rosados and rossos of Rioja offer well-priced wines that are as at home at the stateside barbecue as they are in Spain. The 100% Viura, Muriel Rioja Blanco 2012 ($12.00) was produced solely in stainless steel with nice apple, melon and mineral flavors. Meanwhile, the barrel-fermented Conde de Valdemar Rioja Blanco 2011 ($12.00) offered integrated oak, red apple and good structure.
Less familiar, but equally welcome, were the Rioja rosés. The Muga Rioja Rosado 2012 ($12.00), with its light color and body, was very delicate and pretty, but I preferred the Vivanco Rioja Rosado 2012 ($11.00) for its fuller body and more intense strawberry and watermelon fruit flavors. I was just too hot that evening to reach for the reds, but agree they would pair well with the barbecued cuisine. Also, I think the lighter-style Crianzas could probably handle a slight chill, making them more appealing to me on a sticky summer’s night. See the Vibrant Rioja website for some grill-friendly recipes.