5 QualitiesThat Make a Wine Great

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The following post is reprinted and updated from Gracie’s Italian Wine Review. 

I am often asked by friends, what I feel makes a great bottle of wine?  Although wine taste vary with the user there are certain attributes I do look for when I’m making a wine purchase, be it from Italy (my favorite wines) or anywhere for that matter.  Below is a quick list of my top five.

#1 Delivery:  I like a wine that delivers on the palate what I experienced on the nose.  When I give the glass a swirl and get a strong sense of chocolate, or cherry or coffee I expect to get that on the taste as well.  When a wine delivers for me, I’m rarely disappointed. Continue reading

Merlot – Italian Style

Italian IGT wine from Venice

Italian IGT wine from Venice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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When the conversation turns to Italian wine, it is rare that Merlot is ever mentioned.  With the likes of Barolo, Brunello, Amarone and Chianti Classico, it is not wonder that people do not associate Merlot with Italian wine producers.

The Merlot grape however is widely used throughout many regions in Italy but mostly as a blend and never more than 15/20% of the wines makeup.  In recent years the Merlot wines have seen an increase in popularity in Italy both as a blend and as a 100% Merlot wine.  In fact many of the Super Tuscans that are demanding huge prices in todays market, use Merlot to soften the final product.

Personally, I do not favor Merlots and will often pass, if Merlot is my only option, that is until recently.  It took some convincing, but I have been enjoying some quality Merlots, all bearing Italian labels.  Many are demanding high price tags but I found five (5) I think you will like, with only one a bit on the expensive side. Continue reading

Book Review – Your Heart Needs the Mediterranean Diet

 

“The best measure to prolong life is not to shorten it.”  Those words were written over 200 years ago, but they are just as impactful now as they were then.

ebook “Your Heart Needs the Mediterranean Diet” by Emilia Klapp R.D., B.S. takes that statement and shows how the Mediterranean Diet will make you feel better, live a longer, healthier life and place a higher value on the things that should be most important to each and every one of us. Continue reading

Wine Review – Massolino 2000 Barolo

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Massolino Barolo 2006

Massolino Barolo

This weekend I was fortunate  to be treated to a 2000 Massolino Serralunga d’ Alba Barolo.  I had tried this wine about 5 or 6 years ago and felt then that it needed a bit more time in the bottle.  I can say without uncertainty that it is more than ready to drink now.

2000 was one of a string of great vintage years for Piedmont and Barolo in general (recently I shared a bottle of the 2001 Massolino and it was fantastic).  Massolino is a small but well regarded family run estate in the area of Serralunga d’ Alba, one of the 5 principle villages where Barolo is produced.  The Serralunga d’ Alba is considered their entry level Barolo, but as can be expected with any well produced Barolo, proper aging translates into a real winner. Continue reading

Cooking with Olive Oil

Olive Oil
Olive Oil is a wonderful ingredient and one that is often used throughout the Mediterranean Diet, whether it be for cooking or for intensifying the flavor of the food.

I am often asked, what the differences are between the grades of olive oil and what is the best oil to cook with.  I found a little video on YouTube which addresses the second part of that question and have added it below.

Bear in mind that my mom, Gracie, never used Extra Virgin Olive Oil in her cooking or frying.

Olive oil from Imperia in Liguria, Italy.

Olive oil from Imperia in Liguria, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She always used either Virgin or Pure Olive oil for that purpose.  Cost had a little to do with as she reserved the extra virgin stuff for drizzling on salads or grilled vegetables.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the first cold pressed and is not mixed, tampered or mechanically processed in any way.  From that point on down the olive oils loose their fruity and peppery taste with a pure olive oil in my opinion working best for frying.

Check out Gracie’s Market Place to find some great deals on many fantastic Extra Virgin Olive Oils.  Enjoy the video.

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Share Your Favorite Recipe

The latest Ebook in the Gracie’s Italian Living series, “The Mediterranean Diet Recipe Book – Gracie’s Guide to Healthy Meals,” will be available via Amazon Kindle by the end of this month.  A bit behind schedule but well worth the wait.  You will really get your money’s worth with this collection.

I am looking to add some unique recipes or some old family favorites and asking YOU to help me out.  Send me your favorite Healthy Italian Recipe and I will include the ten we (a panel of foodie judges) feel fit in the best with the book’s overall concept. Continue reading

Gracie’s Ravioli Moving Forward and New Recipe


As we move into the Spring season, you can expect some additions and changes to the Gracie’s Ravioli site.  Many of you are aware that we put up a similar site, www.GraciesItalianWineReview.com, where we review and make recommendations on various Italian Wines.  Work has already begum to combine the two sites.

We polled many of our followers and this move to one site seems to make a whole lot of sense.  With the new site will come a new name, Gracie’s Italian Lifestyle.  This fits in perfectly with our fondness for the Mediterranean Diet, which by the way suggest a glass of wine daily, and all the things both sites which to stress.

You can expect the entire shift to be completed by mid summer, but will begin to see the wine reviews appear at this site almost immediately.  Subscribers to Gracie’s Italian Wine Review will be added to the list here at Gracie’s Ravioli and of course given the option to unsubscribe at any time.

Another item in which we are really excited about is the soon to be released new Ebook in our Italian Living Series at Amazon Kindle.  “The Mediterranean Diet Recipe Book – Gracie’s Guide to Healthy Italian Meals,” is nearing completion and will be available soon.

This new Ebook is full of great recipes for eating healthy Italian foods and a guide to the popular Mediterranean Diet.  A lot of work and research has been put into this new recipe book and we are expecting to price it at $6.49.  A two week introduction period starting on release day will price the book at $2.99.

Be on the lookout for this new addition to the series!  Here’s a quick glimpse at one of the recipes:

<<In “7 Days of Italian Cooking – Gracie’s Guide to Everyday Meals,” I talked about how my mom was such a creature of habit by preparing certain dishes on certain days.  I forgot this one out, as it was a Monday fill in.

Mom would make her chicken soup on Monday and always used Ditali with the soup.  What was left over went into this dish, Ditali with Beans and Broccoli.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of Ditali pasta
  • 1 lb. cannelloni beans
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1 small finely chopped onion
  • 3 tbs. tomato sauce
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • 2 heads of broccoli, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan cook onion in hot olive oil until golden.  Add tomato sauce, garlic, undrained cannelloni beans, broccoli, salt and pepper.  Over high flame, bring to a boil, lower flame, and simmer covered for 15 minutes or until broccoli is tender.

Meanwhile, cook Ditali in salted water until al dente.  Add Ditali to the broccoli, mix and cook 5 minutes longer.

Tip: I sometimes steam the broccoli while the Ditali is cooking, which insures their tenderness and cuts down on the cooking time.>>

 

Feast of St. Joseph the Carpenter – St. Joseph’s Soup Recipe

Tomorrow, March 17th. millions of people will be celebrating St. Patrick’s day, but few realize that two days later many Southern Italians and Sicilians will celebrate the feast of St. Joseph the Carpenter with traditional St. Joseph’s Soup.

As St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, many consider St. Joseph the patron saint of Sicily.   In Sicily and many Italian American communities thanks are given to Saint Joseph for preventing a famine in Sicily during the Middle Ages.  The fava bean was the crop which saved the population from starvation, and is a traditional part of St. Joseph’s Day feast, traditions and recipes.  Giving food to the needy is another Saint Joseph’s Day tradition. Continue reading

Pistachio Pesto Recipe

I had a little time to kill today, so I decided to fine tune my Pistachio Pesto recipe.  Years ago a customer came into our store and placed a catering order.  It was a fairly big job and one item she insisted upon was Pistachio Pesto Crusted Salmon Fillets, which did not appear on the menu.

We didn’t want to loose the job and figured, how hard could a Pistachio Pesto be?  We were already selling four varieties of fresh pesto, we could certainly pull this one off.  Our chef Eric went to work, made a few test runs, sampled it as a lunch special one Friday and we ended up with a very happy client. Continue reading

Study Finds Health Benefits of a Mediterranean Diet

If you are a regular visitor here, you know that I am a big follower of the Mediterranean Diet and the health benefits derived from this lifestyle change.  A recent study, which was covered by the New York Times, added some fuel to this argument.

Below is a short video produced by the Times that I hope you will all take a minute or two to view.  Its information is current, as the video has only been out a few days.  The two Times reporters address the ins and outs of this diet and the benefits one receives from following this more traditional approach to eating and living.

One point I find very interesting in this video, is the idea of buying fresh, avoiding processed foods and relying on preparing meals rather than “picking up something.”  I would like to heard your thoughts, so please make a comment below.

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