Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Living La Dolce Vita with Bell'agio Rosso Dolce

Bell'agio: A Sparkly Sweet Sensory Treat 

Image result for la dolce vita
Frederico Fellini's
La Dolce Vita (Film)
Image result for bellagio lake como pinterest
Bellagio, Lake Como
Lombardia, Italy

Bellagio Hotel, Las Vegas NV
It may not be easy to live la dolce vita, or the sweet life, but it is doable. Bell'agio helps in that regard.  But wait-we are not in the renown Las Vegas hotel.  We are not referring to Fellini's classic film. We are not even in Lake Como, Italy either. Well...not right now anyway. Yet, Bell'agio is right here to help us live the life.  We're talking about Bell'agio Rosso Dolce.

Bell'agio Rosso Dolce is a semi-sparkling or frizzante red wine.  This vino rosso is made from Salamino and Grasparossa, which are two Lambrusco grape varietals.  Lambrusco is the bubbly, effervescent wine that comes from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy.  
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Lambrusco grapes are grown in the Modena, Parma, Reggio nell'Emilia zones of Emilia-Romagna and in the Mantua zone of Lombardy.  There are eight Lambrusco (DOC) regions: Colli di Parma Lambrusco, Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro, Lambrusco di Sorbara, Lambrusco Salamino di Santa Croce, Reggiano Lambrusco, Colli di Scandiano e Canossa Lambrusco, Modena Lambrusco, and Lambrusco Mantovano. Additionally, there are six Lambrusco grape varieties indigenous to Emilia-Romagna: Lambrusco Grasparossa, Lambrusco Maestri, Lambrusco Marani, Lambrusco Montericco, Lambrusco Salamino, and Lambrusco Sorbara. Lambrusco is usually made by blending two or more grapes for added body and structure, and it can be dry (secco), semi-sweet (amabile) or very sweet (dolce).  

This region is known mostly for its prosciutto, parmesan-reggiano and balsamic vinegar.  However, one should not miss this rich, bubbly wine from Emilia-Romagna.  

The Wining Hour's Tasting: 

So, we may have missed Lambrusco Day, but we did not miss out on a good one.  Courtesy of Drink Bell'agio, we tasted their Rosso Dolce, and were pleasantly surprised.  

Bell'agio Rosso Dolce is deep ruby red in appearance with mild effervescence.  On the nose was an abundance of dark red fruits, like extra ripe plum, raspberries and blackberries. Dark, sweet, stewed cherries and raspberries were on the palate.  Rosso Dolce was just that, a sweet red that smoothly slid down the palate, bursting with fruit flavors.  It was rich and full-bodied.    

Typically, I am not a fan of any fermented, sweet wines, and I think that this wine was certainly on the sweeter side. Perhaps, this one was paired properly. We paired Bell'agio Rosso Dolce with an easy staple: and antipasto plate consisting of salumi, formaggi e olive.  Then we went on to taste it with a grilled steak. The antipasto and steak proved to be good choices. We have learned that pairing can make all the difference, or maybe Bell'agio did it right. Rosso Dolce could also be paired with pizza and spicy pork dishes. Containing just 8% ABV, this wine could be paired with certain desserts as well, like cheese cake.  Additionally, this Lambrusco wine would make a solid base for a delicious sangria. Just add peaches and/or nectarines. Either way, Bell'agio Rosso Dolce is delightful and should be served chilled.

Have you tried Lambrusco?  Visit Drink Bell'agio to learn more about this sensory sweet treat and to live la dolce vita wherever you are!

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)
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Saturday, June 4, 2016

Ligurian Pigato with Pesto Focaccia and Shellfish

Food, Wine & Travel in Seaside Liguria

Genoa, Liguria Italy
Port of Genova, Liguria
Liguria, located on the northwest coast of Italy, bordering the French Riviera, is certainly a destination of choice for several reasons.  For one, you have access to two rivieras in one! Moreover, the Liguria region is downright gorgeous and picturesque with its mountains, rolling hills mountain villages and beaches that rest on its splendor along the Mediterranean and Ligurian Seas.  Ligura consists of four provinces: Genoa, home of Christopher Columbus (the capital and port city), Imperia, Savona and La Spezia, which is home to the infamous Cinque Terre. Three of the world famous resorts of Rapallo San Remo and Portofino are also located in Liguria.  
Cinque Terre: Monterosso
Ligurian Gastronomy
Genoa, Liguria Italy

Ligurian cuisine is a little different than what may be expected.  While the region has a seaside location and there is an abundance of fresh seafood, Ligurians do not eat as much frutti di mare as one might expect. Instead, Liguria is known for its vineyards, olive oil, pesto and ravioli.
Ligurian cuisine is characterized by fresh vegetables and aromatic herbs, like basil.  In fact, Genoa is notorious for its basil. Pesto, made with basil, is served in different pastas, namely ravioli, spaghetti, trenette (flat, thin pasta similar to linguini), gnocchi and fidelini. Pasta is a huge staple. In addition to the aforementioned, another favorite Ligurian pasta is corzeti, or fresh pasta made of leavened dough that is red from tomato and green by spinach, which gives the color and appearance of the Italian flag.

Stoccafisso (fish stew) and baccalà (salted cod) are typical fish dishes. Rabbit and veal are frequently eaten. Minestrone soup is rumored to have been born in Liguria.  Ligurian desserts incluce pane dolce, (bread made with pinenuts, raisins and fruit) and latte dolce fritto.  Olive oil and basil are protected in Liguria (DOP).

Ligurian Wine:

Liguria has 8 DOC appellationss: Cinque Terre and Cinque Terre Sciacchetrà, Colli di Luni, Colline di Levanto, Golfo del Tigullio-Portofino or Portofino, Pornassio or Ormeasco di Pornassio, Riviera Ligure di Ponente, Rossese di Dolceacqua or Dolceacqua, Val Polcevera.  It also has  IGT appellations: Colline del Genovesato, Colline Savonesi, Golfo dei Poeti La Spezia or Golfo dei Poeti, Terrazze dell’Imperiese.  According to the research and DNA, Pigato, Vermentino and Favorita are all from the same grape varietal and are native to Liguria.

We paired the following with our Ligurian wine:

Recipe: Pesto Focaccia (Pesto alla Genovese)

Homemade Focaccia Ingredients:

3 and 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra if needed
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing the bowl and pizza pan
1 tablespoon of fresh chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon of fresh chopped thyme
1 tablespoon of fresh chopped parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 cup pecorino
1/2 cup parmigniano
1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
Pesto sauce (recipe below or store brought)

Preheat the oven to 475°F (preferably with a baking stone in it).
Transfer the dough to a generously oiled round or square pizza pan and spread to the edges of the pan.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Drizzle with homemade pesto sauce (recipe below). Sprinkle the parmigiano and pecorino over the top. 

Bake the focaccia in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until golden on the top and bottom and lightly crisp. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature, dusted with a the pecorino, according to taste. 

Homemade Pesto Ingredients:

2 cups basil
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup parmesian cheese
3-4 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup of pine nuts (optional)

Procedure: Blend it all in a food processor, until it creates a paste. Drizzle on focaccia, or jar and refrigerate.

Recipe: Grilled Shellfish Medley (Shrimp, Scallops, Clams)


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


In a large pot (or pan, if grilling), combine the wine, shallots, garlic, and salt. Simmer 5 minutes on medium heat. Add clams, cover, and increase heat to high.  Cook until all clams are open. Stir in herbs and butter. Add shrimp and scallops.  Remove from heat.  Discard any clams that do not open. Garnish with parsley.  

Serve with pesto focaccia.  Serve immediately.
This was eaten alone, as a pizza, not with the shellfish!

The Wining Hour's Ligurian Selection:

We chose a Pigato from Riviera Ligure di Ponente to accompany our Ligurian feast.  Pigato is basically a Vermentino.  This Pigato was from their 2013 Vendemmia and is from winemaker, Filippo Rondelli, and his Terre Bianche winery, which is located in the town of Dolceaqua. The winery is nearly 400 meters above sea level and is appropriately named “Terre Bianche,” as the surrounding soil is mostly of white clay.  However, they also have red clay soils and sandstone and produce red wines as well.

Terre Bianche's Riviera Ligure Ponente Pigato was yellow-gold in color.  It had floral and tropical fruit aromas, and was full of peach, green apple and melon on the palate.  This Italian white was soft, but with a lingering finish. This Pigato was truly packed with flavor, consisted of just the right minerality and notes of flint.  Riviera Ligure Ponente Pigato from Terre Bianche was a perfect match for the pesto focaccia and shellfish medley, but it would also pair well with fish, seafood and pasta dishes. Ultimately, it would be a good choice for an aperitivo.  

The Ligurian region is another favorite for so many reasons.  Read more about this seaside region and...

Join us this Saturday June 4th on Twitter live at 11am Est @ #ItalianFWT to chat about everything Liguria has to offer. 

Vino Travels - Wine & Sunshine on the Italian Riviera
The Wining Hour - Ligurian Pigato with Pesto Focaccia and Shellfish
Culinary Adventures with Camilla - Carciofi Crudi
Cooking Chat – Ligurian Pesto Pasta with Wine Pairing
Food Wine Click – Trofie al Pesto with Cinque Terre DOC
Girl's Gotta Drink – A Cinque Terre Alternative? 5 Less Touristy Italian Riviera Destinations
Rockin Red Blog – Two Hours in Ligura with #ItalianFWT
Avvinare– Liguria – Home to a Host of Unsung Wines
L'Occasion – Life is Good in Liguria

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

Follow The Wining Hour: