Archive for the ‘wine’ Category

Warming up the soul during these cold, winter months

January 9, 2018

Check out my latest article to help beat the winter bluesBraschi's antique cantina winetasting room.jpg!


Time is a friend and foe

December 20, 2017

Hello readers,

With Christmas, New Years and other holidays approaching, I’ve decided to go for a more philosophic reflection on dealing with life’s unexpected events while still moving forward with our lives.  It is, though, related to wine… gotta read to the end to find out!

Wishing you all peace and joy during this special season!

Ciao for now,


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A Natural Woman in Winemaking

November 16, 2017

Check out my exclusive interview here with the Sicilian natural winemaker everyone is talking about, Arrianna Occhipinti!


Ciao for now,



The joys of waiting 13 years to open up a bottle of wine

May 1, 2017

I have some choice wines sitting in my basement ‘wine cellar’, not to keep as an investment, but to enjoy, and feed my curiosity, of seeing what wine will be like when it is aged up to its prime moment.

This weekend I broke out a 2001 Chianti Classico Riserva, Badia a Passignano by Antinori. This Chianti claims to use grapes from the best vineyards of the Chianti Classico DOCG area. Plus it won the top Tre Bicchieri evaluation from Gambero Rosso, so long ago that I did not find a write-up on it online, except for this in italian!

Opening up the wine, it was already showing its age, with the cork breaking in half and showing markings of mold on its label:


The first thing I noticed when pouring was the orange tint to the ruby red color, making me concerned that maybe I waited too long to open it up. Fortunately, when taking my first sniffs of the wine, I did not smell anything ‘bad’, although, at first, it didn’t have a bouquet that really spoke to me. So I waited patiently for a half hour to let the wine breath and warm up a bit. Sure enough, the bouquet opened up, like a timid child who you meet that initially runs to its mother and then, after patience and persistence, starts talking to you a mile a minute. I started to notice an earthy aroma, like a vegetable garden, and then I smelled mature fruit, like prunes aged in alcohol, then spices, like vanilla, then tobacco, eucalyptus and dark chocolate, even shoe leather! The more I explored, the more I discovered. This was becoming an adventure!

When tasting, the tannins were nicely mellowed, yet still very much present, so I could have even aged it more. With the aging, the typically harsh features of an important red wine like this had mellowed out with the softer aspects, making it well balanced. And the finish lasted for so long, that I could still feel it in my mouth after 15 minutes.

So, I think I like this strategy of experimenting with aging wine. It is almost like I am an extension to the wine producer, making a great wine even better!

Ciao for now,






Some tasting highlights from Vinitaly 2017

April 16, 2017

As a follow-on from my Linkedin blog post on global wine business trends from Vinitaly 2017, here are some highlights from my tasting expeditions at Vinitaly:

Being an American, my formative years in wine appreciation were based on full bodied wines, like California chardonnays. Hence I lean towards more mature and developed white wines. One that fits the bill is this blend of 3 italian native grapes, Malvasia Istriana, Ribolla Gialla and Friulano, called Lalinda from a  producer in Northeastern Italy La Tunella. This wine recently was garnered with the prestigious Tre Bicchieri rating from Gambero Rosso:

Lalinda latunella 3 bicchieri

I had the pleasure of meeting Franco Roero and his son Gianluca from  Piedmont franco and gianluca roero

whose Barbera d’Asti Superiore, Carbunè, was fruity, robust yet enveloped my mouth in a seductive way… quite complex for a wine which was not even matured in wood. This wine is also a favorite with the locals. If you are in NYC on April 24th, I will bring a bottle to taste at the wine tasting that Veritas Studio Wines is having that evening.

Last but not least, I tried the fantastic Taurasi wines of the producer Roberto DiMeo roberto di meo

in Avellino area, which is in the hills east of Naples. Taurasi is an acclaimed red wine made from the native grape variety, Aglianico. It’s one of my favorite italian red wines, spicy, rich and intense. I personally liked the 2008, as well as the Aglianico from 2013. He also makes great white wines. You gotta try Vittorio 2007, made from the Greco di Tufo, another native grape variety. It is very complex and balanced, a feat for an unoaked white wine!

Ciao for now,


Artisans and Italian Wine

March 19, 2017

I never used the word ‘artisan’ before moving to Italy. In fact, it was really not part of my vocabulary until after hearing the word ‘artigiano’ in Italy used over and over again. In ordinary life in Italy,  artisan gestures and style is what you see all around, from the barista making a cappuccino in the morning, to the fornaio in your local panificio, even in ‘office’ jobs, like in software development where I’ve seen Italians applying creativity and spontaneity to create innovative solutions.  It’s a real strength of the country and an asset to leverage, something I particularly notice when I go ‘back home’ in the U.S. and listen to my compatriots’ positive impressions of what it’s like to live in Italy, many of which seem based on images of this country where beauty abounds, from nature and people to art and design.

When it comes to wine, Americans’ impression of Italian wine also conjures images of beauty and goodness, along with other positive aspects, like earthiness, diversity and genuineness, as shown in the results of this Wine Opinions, Vinitaly International 2017 Survey: Wine opinions vinitaly international survey slide

The variety, depth and tradition of viticulture and wine-making in Italy is what made me dive into Italian wine appreciation, becoming a sommelier, engaging in ‘fun’ wine past-times and now pursuing wine as an aspect of my career.

When in New York recently at a Gambero Rosso wine event which was showcasing producers who were nominated for this year’s prestigious ‘Tre Bicchieri’ award, I was pleasantly surprised to find a local producer from Bertinoro in Romagna, Celli ,  whose dry white wine ‘Albana Secco I Croppi’ 2015 won Tre Bicchieri.  It is a minerally and intense white wine with a nice golden color made in a genuine fashion with steel fermentation and goes great with many pasta, poultry and fish dishes.

Here is the wine producer, Mauro Sirri, proudly showing off his Tre Bicchieri Albana Secco in New York in Feb 2017:IMG_0096

I’d also recommend this Sangiovese di Romagna Superiore, Le Grillaie Riserva, a complex, bold red wine which pairs well with meat dishes: IMG_0097


Ciao for now,



The Delights of Improvising with Wine and Food

May 29, 2016
I bought a really interesting wine recently: a dry Albana di Romagna, a DOCG from the Emilia Romagna region of Italy. The producer, Fattoria Montincino Rosso, makes this white wine, Codronchio, in the same way as the famous dessert wines, like Sauternes from Bordeaux and Tokaji from Hungary, by harvesting the grapes late and allowing for the ‘noble rot’, aka Botrytis Cinerea (yes, mold!), to develop. This fungus transforms sugar into glycerine, creating a pleasurable, smooth sensation when tasting the wine. What makes Codronchio even more unique is that it is a dry wine with the appealing aspects of a sweet wine, having complex apricot marmalade notes, a pleasant balanced mouth-feel and a long finish, great as an aperitif or with a tasty dish.Cordonchio e ragu di coniglio
I think the best way to really appreciate wine is with food. So, at home today I had a yearning to cook a dish with some fresh ingredients on hand: rabbit cutlets, tomatoes and herbs (thyme, basil, parsley) which I sauteed with some shallots, garlic, olive oil and white wine leaving to simmer for about an hour. Then I cooked gnocchetti sardi pasta, a country-style pasta from Sardegna, and once done I added the pasta to the sauce and grated in pecorino cheese from Tuscany. The result was a delicious, yet simple, lunch which was well paired with this white wine. A fun and delicious way to improvise on a Sunday afternoon!
I’ll leave you with a beautiful scene in the Romagnola hills, not far from where this wine was made. It’s a great place to visit!
romagnola hills apr 2016.JPG
Ciao for now
Sheila Donohue

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