Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Honoring #InternationalGrenacheDay (#Garnacha Day) #Wine

How Do You Celebrate Grenache Day?

Who doesn't love a celebration?  Celebrations are always fun, especially when it involves a wine holiday. Annually, the third Friday of September is set aside to observe International Grenache Day. The Grenache Association began honoring this day in 2010 to celebrate one of the most widely planted red grapes in the world.    

Grenache refers to both the red grape itself and the wine that is produced by that grape, despite the fact that it is often referred to as Garnacha in Spain, where it originated.  Grenache wine is usually associated with the Rhone in southern France, where its the dominant grape for Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

Grenache wines are known for their strong fruit flavors and aromas, light tannins and high alcohol content. (Yay!)  The color of grenache wine tends to be lighter, so it is often blended with other varieties, like Syrah in France and Tempranillo in Spain, to add body and fruitiness.

While grenache is known as a red wine grape, there are also other varietals.  There's the dark, purple grape used for Grenache Noir, which is important to the Languedoc region in France. Grenache Gris, also found in France comes from the pinkish-gray grape for wine-making and blending. Then, there's Grenache Blanc, from the green-skinned grapes that produce a medium-full bodied white wine in the Rhone and northeast Spain. Although these grenache varietals are mostly found in France and Spain, they can also be found throughout the world, namely, in Italy, Australia and the United States.

How The Wining Hour Celebrated:
To celebrate International Grenache Day,  we sipped on a 2013 Viña Altogrado Garnacha from Cariñena, Spain.  It was medium bodied and full of intense, juicy, ripe, dark fruit flavors. This garnacha was made from 100% grenache grapes.  Although this Viña Altogrado Garnacha had 15% alcohol and packed a punch, it is very smooth.  Nevertheless, while I probably would not pair this particular wine with a hearty steak or lamb dish, it would go well with a roast pork. Viña Altogrado Garnacha would also be fine to sip on its own (even though after two glasses, I was rather tipsy).   

We were feeling celebratory and tipsy (don't judge), so we also sipped on a 2012 Santo Tomas Vino Rosado Grenache from Valle de San Vicente, Baja California, which is considered a Mexican wine region. We wanted to use this opportunity to examine another variety.  This Santo Tomas Vino Rosado was also 100% grenache and consisted of 14% alcohol volume and was a nice refreshing treat. It was light red in appearance and smelled of fresh red fruits such as pomegranate. It tasted the way it smelled and had a mild tannic finish. This Santo Tomas Vino Rosado was a little sweet for my taste, but it was a nice change and would be a good summer wine.  It would pair well with roasted pork meats and/or soft cheeses like brie.  But, tell us, how do you celebrate Grenache/Garnacha Day?  How do you pair this wine?

For additional information about Grenache and more food and wine pairings, view this primer.

Enjoy your #WiningHour and Happy International Grenache Day! #grenacheday

About The Wining Hour
The Wining Hour writes about wine, Italy and global travel.  The Wining Hour boutique caters to wine-lovers across the globe by offering all wine-related items.  The Wining Hour markets unique wine décor and furnishings, accessories, glassware, barware, wine racks, storage and cooling options, games, gifts and more. (For more, see links at the top of this page)

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Sunday, September 13, 2015

Announcing #Sponsorship of the 32nd Annual Oyster Festival #OysterBay

The Wining Hour to Sponsor the 32nd Oyster Festival October 17-18, 2015

Oyster Bay, N.Y., September 13, 2015-The Wining Hour announces its sponsorship of the 32nd Annual Oyster Festival set for October 17 & 18 in downtown Oyster Bay.  

The Oyster Festival is the East Coast's largest waterfront festival with more than 200,000 attendees.   The festival is a project of the Oyster Bay Rotary Club and funded by the Oyster Bay Charitable Fund. The Oyster Festival offers new activities and old favorites, including a 5k Run, live entertainment, Tall Ships, top-notch artisans, pirate shows, amusement rides, and the iconic oyster eating and shucking contest. The impressive Food Court offers dozens of unique oyster, clam and other seafood dishes along with traditional festival fare. 

During this year's Oyster Festival, The Wining Hour will join the festivities with items from our wine boutique.  We will feature and present our wine-ware to festival-goers.  Additionally, TWH will be conducting raffles and giveaways.  According to The Wining Hour's spokesperson, L. Lane, "We are so excited to be a sponsor for the Oyster Festival.  The amount of people that flock to this festival is amazing.  This particular event holds a special place in my heart.  I attend the Oyster Festival every year. I live here and work here.  I will be around neighbors, friends and family.  The Wining Hour will be right at home!"  

About Oyster Bay, NY
Oyster Bay is one of the most beautiful and historic villages on the North Shore of Long Island and part of its well known Gold Coast. Oyster Bay (Sagamore Hill) is where the 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt, spent his very first summer, vacationed, lived and was later buried.  Oyster Bay is home to the Theodore Roosevelt Bird Sanctuary and other natural and wild life preserves, like the Planting Fields Arboretum.  As there is much more to learn about historic Oyster Bay, please visit:

For more information on the 32nd Annual Oyster Festival, see:

About The Wining Hour
The Wining Hour writes about wine, Italy and global travel.  The Wining Hour boutique caters to wine-lovers across the globe by offering all wine-related items.  The Wining Hour markets unique wine décor and furnishings, accessories, glassware, barware, wine racks, storage and cooling options, games, gifts and more.

For more information, please visit­­­

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Source: The Wining Hour

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Three Wine & Food Pairings with Gusto from Abruzzo #Travel #Wine

Wine & Food from Italy's Abruzzo Region 

Image result for map of abruzzo italy
For some, Abruzzo is one of the lesser known and lesser traveled Italian regions.  Abruzzo is located closer to central Italy, just east of Rome (Lazio region) on the Adriatic coast of the peninsula.  The geography of Abruzzo is mountainous, pastoral, and coastal, as it includes the Apennines, many national parks and nature preserves, as well as many beautiful beaches.  While there is so much to uncover, we decided to highlight some of Abruzzo's delightful food and wine for this month's Italian Food, Wine and Travel.

The cuisine of Abruzzo is unique due to its varied geography.  For example, in the mountainous areas, the flocks of sheep and goats that graze the pastures are the source of the meat dishes.  Here you will find game dishes that include lamb, wild boar, rabbit, hare, pork and fowl.  Along its Adriatic seashore, you will find a variety of seafood and fish dishes, such as brodetto alla vastese or fish soup.  Throughout the region, you’ll find local rustic pizzas and the typical salumi, like prosciutto and formaggi, like pecorino, along with flavorful olive oil.  

Peperoncino, or chili peppers are used often to add spice and flavor to Abruzzese food.  At times, such food spiced with peperoncino is referred to as diavoletti, or little devils.  Saffron, a flower (Crocus) grown around the Navelli area, is another important spice used for cooking in Abruzzo and is added to many dishes due to its intense color, aroma and flavor.  Abruzesse saffron is considered among the best in the world.  

Just as the cuisine of Abruzzo is vast and delicious, the region is also known to produce very good wine.  In fact, Abruzzo is the 5th most productive wine region in Italy.  Both whites and reds are produced here.  There are three, in particular, that stand out and these are the ones we tasted.    

We did a wine tasting of selections from the vineyards at Farnese Vini.  Farnese Vini is an award-winning winery in Abruzzo that has accolades both within the country and internationally.  Currently, their production is approaching 13 million bottles.  We tried three of their wines and paired them with typical Abruzzese dishes.  What a delight! 

First, we wanted to check out Villa Farnia di Farnese Pecorino 2014. Although pecorino translates to little sheep, we are not referring to the famous pecorino romano cheese.  Instead, this was a crisp, dry white that was bright and lemony, and made from the pecorino grape.  It was very floral, and I tasted flavors of green apple and pear.  This wine had a little more body than expected, which was a nice surprise.  We paired this 2014 Pecorino with Pepeta di Cozza (Mussels in Pepper Broth).  

As a lover of seafood and ease in the kitchen, mussels were a great choice.  I usually steam mussels in garlic, white wine and butter.  Simple and easy. In an attempt to make them Abruzzo style, I adapted my recipe by simply adding red chili peppers (peperoncino).

Pepeta di Cozza recipe:

4 lb of fresh mussels (or clams)
2 cups of dry white wine 
4 cloves of garlic ( chopped) 
4 shallots finely chopped
Freshly ground sea salt to taste (1/2 tsp)
Freshly ground white pepper 
2-4 whole dried chili peppers OR 1/2 tsp dried chili flakes (adjust to taste)
6 tablespoons butter OR 3 tsp virgin olive oil


  • Rinse and scrub mussels under cold water.
  • In a large pot, combine the wine, shallots, garlic, and salt.
  • Simmer 5 minutes on medium heat.
  • Add mussels, cover, and increase heat to high.
  • Cook until all mussels are open, about 5 minutes.
  • Stir in herbs and butter.
  • Remove from heat.  Discard any mussels that do not open.
  • Garnish with parsley
  • Serve with fresh crusty bread
  • Serve immediately.
I like garlic, so I make garlic bread to accompany the mussels.  The bread is great for dipping!

Cooking time: 25 minutes  Serves 4

Next, we tasted the Villa Farnia Di Farnese 2013 Trebbiano d’Abruzzo.  Trebbiano is made from the trebbiano grape and smells of light spices, pear and melon.  The Trebbiano also has light notes of lemon and would pair well with citrusy seafood and pasta.  Once again, geography plays a role in the production of wines from Abruzzo.  The coastal breezes from the Adriatic sea provides salinity for the wines and it was noticable in each of the wines I tasted, including this one. The food pairing of choice was Aragosta all Grilia or grilled lobster.  The recipes that we came across for grilled lobster were all basically the same. We grill regularly, so this recipe was very simple.  We even added clams! 

Aragosta all Grilia

  • 2-4 lobster tails 
  • Olive oil
  • Freshly squeezed juice of a lemon
  • Salt and pepper

Split or butterfly the lobster tails, shell and all, from head to tail with a heavy knife. Then drizzle the insides with a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and let it marinate for just a few minutes.

Grill the lobster tales on one side, cut side down, for 5 minutes, then add a bit more marinade and grill for another 5 minutes. The exact timing will depend, of course, on the size of your lobster; for doneness, check to see that the tail flesh is opaque and quite firm to the touch.

Now serve the lobster in its shell, with a bit more marinade drizzled on top. With this trebbiano, this just melted in my mouth!

Our tertiary wine was the classic Villa Farnia di Farnese 2012 Montelpuciano d’AbruzzoThis particular wine is actually the most notable wine in Abruzzo.  However, a distinction should be made, as it is often confused with the town of the same name in Montelcino, Tuscany. The name of this wine, Montelpuciano d'Abruzzo, refers to the grape used in making this Abruzzese wine.  Whereas, Montelpulciano, when used at the end of the name, refers to the hill town in Montelcino, in neighboring Tuscany, where Vino Nobile (Vino Nobile di Montelpuciano) is produced from the sangiovese grape.  

So, we paired the Villa Farnia di Farnese 2012 with Ragu Di Agnello (Lamb).  We needed a heartier wine for a hearty meal.  This wine was full-bodied, yet not overpowering.  It was velvety smooth, with tastes of ripe plum and dark berries.  It was well balanced and was a nice accent for the meat.  It was a great match!

There are other ways to make the Ragu Di Agnello, but we tried this recipe from Food & Wine:

*Note: For really authentic Abruzzese cuisine, saffron may be also be added to any of the aforementioned dishes. 

During my short excursion, it was clear that typical food and wine from Abruzzo have gusto!  Of the three, the trebbiano was my favorite.  Ever tried trebbiano d'Abruzzo?  What are your thoughts regarding food and wines from this Italian region?

Our exploration of the Abruzzo doesn't stop here....

Follow along the Abruzzo journey with my other Abruzzi fans and make sure to join us next month on October 3rd as we will be covering the region of Umbria.  You can also chat with us live this Saturday morning at 11am EST on Twitter at #ItalianFWT.  Hope to see you there!

Vino Travels – The Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Colline Terramane DOCG with Cerelli Spinozzi
Rockin' Red Blog - The Natural Wonders of Abruzzo
Italophilia - American in Abruzzo
Confessions of a Culinary Diva - Abruzzo Comfort Food & Wine
Cooking Chat - Pizza Pairing: Montepulciano d'Abruzzo for #ItalianFWT
The Wining Hour - 3 Wine & Food Pairings with Gusto from Abruzzo
Food Wine Click - Aruzzo 1st Course: Farro and Butternut Squash Soup with Passerina
Culinary Adventures with Camilla - Polpi in Purgatorio
Enofylz Wine Blog - Grilled Lamb Lollipops with Cantina Zaccagnini Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Tralcetto

About The Wining Hour

The Wining Hour writes about wine, Italy and global travel.  The Wining Hour boutique caters to wine-lovers across the globe by offering all wine-related items.  The Wining Hour markets unique wine décor and furnishings, accessories, glassware, barware, wine racks, storage and cooling options, games, gifts and more. The Wining Hour also hosts #wininghourchat on Twitter (@wininghourchat) on Tuesday's at 9 p.m. EST.(For more, see links at the top of this page)

For more information, please visit­­­

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Source: The Wining Hour