that’s Amore! from Dean Martin’s song, That’s
The grand Amore day is just around the corner, and here are a
ideas to help you
get organized. It’s an Italian theme for a romantic dinner either
homemade or an evening out.
One of the loveliest of Italian grapes is Sangiovese. This
darkly colored grape gets its name from the Latin, sanguis Jovis or
blood of Jove. Jove being the king of gods until
Christianity came along.
Italy’s love affair with Sangiovese is proven by the fact that
it is the most widely planted red grape variety in Italy. In the
romantic Tuscan region, Sangiovese is the grape or the base of some
great wines from Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di
Montepulciano, Chianti to Morellino di Scansano.
Ever wondered about the makeup of a Super Tuscan?
Generally, these upscale wines from Tuscany allow blending
Sangiovese with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and
Syrah. These tend to be expensive ($$$) and long lived.
Other Italian wine regions planted to Sangiovese and very
affordable are Lazio, Umbria, Marche and the Island of Corsica.
Outside of Italy, Sangiovese has put down roots in California,
Washington and Australia where its naturally high acidity is an
asset in those hot climates.
Sangiovese is a thin-skinned, slow ripener. So slow in fact,
some vineyards aren’t ready for harvesting until well into October.
This extended growing season makes for richer, more concentrated
aromas and flavors.
The characteristic Sangiovese flavors are dark cherry and black
stone fruit framed with savory notes of tomato leaf and dried
herbs. There are many clones, the most prevalent Sangisovese
Grosso, is known for its high acidity, sweet and savory flavors and
Brunello di Montalcino is Tuscany’s most famous wine. Brunello
from the Sangiovese Grosso clone, is from around the hilltop town
of Montalcino where the vineyards radiate down the hillsides from
Although it is not release until it is five years old, Brunello
is, with more age, fantastically aromatic, smooth with dark fruits
and hints of savory herbs. It’s the perfect marriage with Osso
Buco, a traditional Italian dish. This slow and delicious
dish of braised veal shanks would surely melt anyone’s heart.
The absolute best Brunello is from Vasco Sassetti. Others to
look for would be Biondi Santi, Frescobaldi or Banfi. Brunello di
Montalcino averages around $50 to 75.
That would be my dream dinner for Valentine’s Day so here’s
another ideal scenario: Spaghetti and Meatballs. Picture two
Dalmatians at a checkered tablecloth out the backdoor
of an Italian restaurant sucking down the same noodle. It’s a
classic scene and an entrée best served with a bottle of Chianti
The traditional Chianti blend was 75 to 90% Sangiovese with a
bit of Canaiolo (10 to 30%) and 10 to 30% Trebbiano and/ or
Malvasia. Today, a new law has reduced Canaiolo to 10% and
permits up to 10 % non-traditional grapes such as Cabernet and
Chianti Classico is situated between Florence and Siena, the
inner zone within Tuscany’s Chianti district. Isole y Olena,
Gabbiano, and Ruffino are all likely candidates for the seductively
simple spaghetti and meatballs with a lovely price point right
And for that sweet ending to a luscious meal, Ann Vogel’s recipe
for Tiramisu must be accompanied by Vin Santo. It’s a style of
Tuscan dessert wine made from dried Malvasia or Trebbiano grapes.
The best way to describe it – it’s like the kiss of an angel.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
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