Tasting: Vignaioli Selections

This Thursday and Friday, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
121 East 27th St.
between Park and Lex.

Ribolla Gialla 2004 Antico Broilo

Ribolla Gialla is an indigenous grape of Friuli, often compared to Chardonnay. It makes for a wine rich in color with unusual aging ability for a white wine.

Vareij 2004 Hilberg

Vareij is an unusual blend of Brachetto and Barbera. The term vareij means “varied” or “variation” in Piemontese dialect. It refers to the fact that Brachetto is rarely vinified as a still wine.

Uvarara 2004 Frecciarossa

Uvarara is a grape grown in the Oltrepo’ Pavese appellation. Often called Bonarda, it is slightly different than the Bonarda grown in Piemonte and in Emilia.

Amarone 2000 Begali

This Amarone from an artisanal producer is a classic example of the appellation’s unique character in the panorama of Italian winemaking.

Recioto 2003 Begali

Recioto is the sweeter, more concentrated original version of Amarone. While it is often served with chocoloate outside Italy, in the Valpolicella (province of Verona) where it is made, the traditional pairing is pastissada, a horse-meat stew.

* * *

Wine Opinion: How I Became a Pizzaiolo

editor’s note: there are still some spaces available for Charles and Michele’s Pizza class on Sat. November 14. To register, please email register@vinosite.com.

In 1970, I went on my honeymoon to Italy for three weeks. Among the places we visited was Napoli. A famous man once said, vedi Napoli e poi mori, “see Napoli and then die.” When our visit in Napoli was over, I turned to Michele and said, “we saw Napoli, it was terrible, and I feel like I died.” Even though we visit Italy three or four times a year, because of our experience, we never went back to Napoli. It seemed, when we were there, that everybody wanted to take you for a “ride.” Not only the cab drivers, but even the police seemed to have their hand out looking for a “tip.”

Twenty-five years went by and Michele went on a press trip to Napoli. When she was there, she telephoned and said that Napoli was wonderful and that we did not understand it the first time that we were there. Maybe we were too young and too naive. Michele kept on saying how wonderful the people were, that they did not speak but actually sang. The city was wonderful. The Bay of Napoli was incredible and the food was some of the best that she had ever eaten.

But the best thing that she had was the pizza. My response was, “How good could the pizza be?” I’ve eaten pizza all over Italy and I’ve eaten pizza in New York. How could it possibly be any better? We were scheduled to go on a trip to Roma a few months later and after much badgering, Michele convinced me that we would spend eight days in Roma and one day in Napoli. We went to Napoli first, and instead of spending one day there, we spent eight days. Michele was right: I fell in love with the city and all things Neapolitan. The caffe’ and the sfogliatella at the Caffe’ Gambrinus, the wonderful seafood, and, of course, pizza. I ate pizza three times a day. You can buy pizza and eat it as you walk because some of the restaurants have a stand outside and they ring a bell when the pizza is ready, and you come and buy the pizza and you fold it (because you can fold Neapolitan pizza without it falling apart), and you go on your way. I ate pizza for lunch and I ate pizza for dinner.

In his famous Allegory of the Cave (from the Republic), Plato writes that all we see are shadows and reality is hidden from us. The things that we see are not the things themselves but shadows of those things. Therefore, we never know the thing itself. I felt that I had tasted what pizza really should be. I was no longer in the shadows and I had come out into the sunlight and I could see. I could eat, I could taste. I was in heaven.

On the way home, I turned to Michele and said to her, “where am I going to find pizza like this in New York?” Michele turned to me and said, very sarcastically, “Make it yourself!”

Stay tuned for the next installment of “How I Became a Pizzaiolo,” where I will reveal the secrets behind my career as a pizza-maker and author of Pizza, Any Way You Slice It.

–Charles Scicolone, Wine Director, I Trulli and Vino


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