Drinking White After Labor Day

After a long and exceptionally hot summer, I’ve been welcoming this crisp autumn air and embracing the flavors of fall’s bounty. I’ve willingly stored my flip-flops and bathing suits away until next year, but there’s one summery thing I refuse to give up: drinking white wine. I know wearing white after Labor Day can be considered a major faux pas, but there’s no reason you shouldn’t still be drinking white wines.

Mazzoni-PinotGrigio2014-p19lmeuekg1irv1ddj10qk160lep6There are plenty of white wines that are more than fit for fall. At this time of year, I often look for whites with bigger body and texture, and sometimes prefer whites with ripe flavors of orchard fruits like apple, pear, or quince. The Mazzoni Pinot Grigio meets all these requirements. Light straw yellow in the glass, it’s full of ripe pear aromas and full flavors, with refreshing acidity on the finish. It’s a pleasurable and fresh wine, certainly more complex than most pinot grigios I’ve tasted in the past.

This is the first year I’ve signed up for a fall CSA, which stands for Community-Supported Agriculture, and is basically a weekly seasonal share of local produce. Each week, as I head to pick up my share, I have no idea what’s going to be inside it. I’ve so far enjoyed the challenge of preparing my weekly meals based on what I’m given every week, but sometimes I get thrown a curveball — a vegetable or herb I’ve never cooked with or eaten. Perhaps a fruit I’ve never baked with before.

Earlier this month, a mysterious looking vegetable appeared in my CSA share. It was kohlrabi, an alien-looking root vegetable, something I would have never bought for myself at a grocery store. After a few minutes of researching online and paging through cookbooks, I found a recipe for kohlrabi risotto. I already had most of the ingredients required — kohlrabi, Arborio rice, Parmigiano-Reggiano, onion, chicken stock, and most importantly, white wine — so decided to make it for the first time for dinner.


Now, making risotto is no easy task. It requires a little bit of love and a lot of patience. But there are rewards should you choose to invest your time in the process. The recipe I followed, like most risotto recipes, required wine. To be exact, I needed a ½ cup of dry, white wine. Luckily, I had an unopened bottle of Mazzoni Pinot Grigio in my fridge to use. Yes, I used a half-cup of a beautiful wine to cook with. But trust me, if you don’t like a wine enough to drink it, you shouldn’t cook with it. Don’t you want the same balance and liveliness on your plate as you have in your glass? I know I do.

Another bonus of cooking risotto is the remainder of the bottle of wine you get to drink. As I carefully tended to the pan of risotto on my stove, I sipped on a glass of Mazzoni Pinot Grigio and snacked on bites of Parmigiano-Reggiano. The final result was just as pleasant as the process of preparing it.

Shelby VittekShelby Vittek is an award-winning food, wine, and travel writer, and a current contributor at She provides accessible, approachable wine reviews for Live Like An Italian.

Italian Recipe: Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Peppers and Tarragon

Roasted bell peppers are a staple in Italian cooking, and are at their most flavorful from July through November. I was reading an article by Russ Parsons of the Los Angeles Times, about how to choose the best bell peppers, which inspired me to create this recipe. I used his suggestions and went to the farmer’s market to find the perfect bell peppers to roast.



While there, I asked the butcher for a pork tenderloin to go with my peppers. Most people associate pork with apples, but instead I thought a nice and flavorful accompaniment would be to make a roasted gold and red pepper sauce. I grabbed some fresh tarragon and found some imported Sicilian pistachios and I was on my way back to the kitchen to create this recipe. The aroma of roasting peppers and blending them with fresh tarragon will infuse your house with the most delicious scent. Once again, the Italian philosophy of simplicity and using the freshest ingredients made an incredibly flavorful and beautifully colorful dish. I hope you enjoy this simple and fresh recipe and share it with your friends and family.

Buon Appetito!

Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Peppers and Tarragon

Serves 4

Prep Time: 30 min

Cook Time: 35 min

Pair with Mazzoni Rosso di Toscana


For the Pepper Sauce:

2 whole bell peppers (1 red & 1 gold)

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

3 sprigs fresh tarragon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup pistachios, lightly crushed

For the Pork:

1 1/2 pound pork tenderloin

1 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary

1 garlic clove, minced


For the Pepper Sauce:

  1. Preheat the oven to 500°. Place the roasting pan with the bell peppers on the rack.
  2. Roast, turning occasionally, until they blister and darken on all sides, about 20 to 25 minutes.
  3. Remove the peppers from the oven and place in a bowl.
  4. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let stand for 20 minutes.
  5. When cool enough to handle, remove the skin and slice them open.
  6. Remove the seeds and discard.
  7. Place peppers and tarragon in a food processor and blend until creamy.
  8. Add salt to taste and set aside.

For the Pork:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Combine the garlic, rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper and olive oil in a small bowl.
  3. Rub the pork with the mixture and olive oil.
  4. Place pork tenderloin on a baking sheet and transfer to the oven.
  5. Cook until an instant-read thermometer reads 145 degrees.
  6. Remove the tenderloin to a platter, cover and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  7. Warm up the pepper-tarragon sauce.
  8. When the pork has rested, pour the sauce on top, sprinkle the pistachios and serve.

FrancescoInfluenced by memories in the kitchen with his mother and grandmother, Italian-born Francesco Romano is the man behind the food blog, Coco de Mama. He shares recipes and culinary knowledge with Mazzoni fans each month.

How to Live La Dolce Vita from Home

Party scene

La Dolce Vita was immortalized in Federico Fellini’s iconic film in 1960*.  Translated literally, la dolce vita means the sweet life- a life that is lived to the fullest.

While la dolce vita might be equated with Italy, you don’t have to live in Italy to enjoy the good life. Living la dolce vita is about allowing yourself the pleasure of small luxuries.

Here are five ways to live la dolce vita wherever you may be!shutterstock_169841813

  1. Embrace the “perchè no?” philosophy. Perchè no means why not? It is easy to apply the principle to so many of life’s little indulgences. For example: Should you book that weekend getway? Why not!
    Is it really ok to have cookies for breakfast? Why not!
    Would you like a second glass of wine? Why not!

    Allowing space for a small splurge is what the good life is all about.

  2. Make time for your passions. Life can pull us in so many different directions, but every now and then it has to be me Take the time to invest in what you are most passionate about – be that old films, DIYing around the house, family time or taking Italian classes.  La dolce vita means being a tiny bit selfish every now and again.

  3. Learn il dolce far niente. Sometimes doing nothing is better than trying to do everything. Il dolce far niente is the pleasure of doing nothing at all. Give yourself a break from the busyness of everyday to take a walk in the park or host a picnic with your favorite Italian foods in the backyard. The point is that there does not have to be a point! Slow down and enjoy.
  4. Fall in love. In Fellini’s film, Marcello falls head over heels for Sylvia, the famous actress. He lets himself become totally caught up in the emotion. Love is a critical part of the good life, but does not have to be of the romantic variety.  It could mean remembering how much you love your favorite book and losing an afternoon re-reading it. Or, you could fall in love with your hometown, wandering the streets with fresh eyes. The trick is to let go and let yourself get carried away.
  5. Appreciate the beauty in the small things. La dolce vita usually brings to mind beach lounging, but it does not take sunny skies to live the good life. All you have to do is spot the beauty already around you. It could be the perfect fall-hued oak tree, the first frost, or a perfectly wrapped gift. Savour it!

*P.S. Did you know that Fellini’s movie popularized more than just the term “la dolce vita”? It is also where we get the word paparazzi.  In the film, there is a photographer who is always trying to get a photo of the two stars. The pushy photographer’s name? Paparazzo.

181231_636233323070687_1494790961_nNatalie moved from California to Italy in 2010, and is the writer behind the blog, An American in Rome. She provides accessible Italian lifestyle tidbits each month for the Mazzoni Wines blog, Live Like an Italian.

Ten Days of Chocolate

Imagine walking around a city’s downtown and being surrounded by chocolate. For ten days every October such a dream becomes true in Perugia, Italy, thanks to Eurochocolate, a festival that is all about chocolate.

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This year’s edition of Eurochocolate started on Friday, October 16 and will run until Sunday, October 25.


Eurochocolate 2025 has mustache as theme, so visitors can admire an enormous chocolate mustache sculpture, explore an exhibit dedicated to all things mustache, buy mustache-shaped chocolates or mustache-themed gadgets. Entrance to Eurochocolate and its activities is free.


The festival takes place in the beautiful downtown of Perugia, including Piazza IV Novembre, dominated by the iconic Fontana Maggiore, Corso Vannucci, the city’s main thoroughfare, and the Rocca Paolina.


The latter is my favorite part to visit: besides panels describing the phases of chocolate production, from bean to bar, there is a space devoted to showcasing cacao-producing countries, one for the chocolate boutique and, to get some respite from chocolate, one dedicated to Umbrian products, like the famous lenticchia di Castelluccio, various cheeses and cured meats.




The festival’s program is always packed with activities, from chocolate sculpting to chocolate tasting. To get a good sense of the variety of chocolate and chocolates available takes some stamina, considering the large number of companies offering their products in the many stands.


Simona 2

Stores in an around downtown go with the flow of chocolate and offer (Euro)chocolate-inspired products.


Perugia is a beautiful city, worth visiting every time of the year for its rich history, precious art and old-world elegance. Eurochocolate is one more reason—a sweet one— to do so.


With a specialty in handmade pasta, Simona provides detailed, accessible tutorials teaching readers to cook like an Italian right from home on Live Like an Italian as well as on her own blog, briciole.

The Beginner’s Guide to Montalcino

When it comes to exploring in Italy, Tuscany ranks among the top destination on every traveller’s list.  Florence, for example, is consistently voted as the top city in the world.

As gorgeous as Florence is, the real beauty of Tuscany is in the hilltop villages and rolling vineyards, and olive groves that blanket the famous region.  Seeking out the back roads and undiscovered towns is an Italo-philes dream come true.

One Tuscan destination that cannot be missed is the village of Montalcino in the famed Val d’Orcia.  Home of the Il Poggione Winery where Mazzoni Wines are made, this historic region is well known for making the most highly praised Brunellos in the world. To make the most of any trip, or to imagine one from home, follow our guide to the hilltop town.

The Il Poggione Winery in Montalcino

The Il Poggione Winery in Montalcino

What to see:

Fortress of Montalcino:

Tuscan towns tended to be built on hills for defense, with the height serving to deter invading armies, or at least offer a better vantage point to observe invaders from. The village of Montalcino was also a walled city for further protection and the fortress was built into the city walls in 1361 at the highest point.

Chiesa di Sant’Agostino:

Follow the street extending from the fortress to arrive at the 13th century church of St. Augustine.  A building that formerly served as a convent next to the church is now a museum which houses the most famous artwork of Montalcino- a beautiful sculpture of the Madonna by an anonymous artist.

Historic center:

With small winding alleyways, cobbled streets and stone houses, the historic center of Montalcino requires no itinerary. Explore the different corners, old abbeys and characteristic Tuscan feel.

What to eat:

Montalcino is famous for its red wine, so order a glass and select a meal that naturally goes well with the full bodied wine.  In Montalcino this could be pasta with a ragu made with wild boar (none as cinghiale), roasted pork stuffed with herbs, or ribollita – a hearty soup made with vegetables, beans and bread to thicken.  Finally, in addition to wine, Montalcino is famous around Italy for its honey.

What to pack:

The easiest way to get around Montalcino once you arrive is on foot, so cute but sturdy walking shoes are in order. Spring and Fall call for a light jacket, whereas summer temperatures can reach the high 80s. Winter brings rain and some wind, and while it usually stays well above freezing, a winter coat will keep you warm while exploring town.

How to get there:

Montalcino is located in the province of Siena, but is also close to Florence and Pisa.   The easiest way to arrive is to take the train from any of these three cities, as the regional line runs several times a day. Schedules are available on TrenItalia. Buses from Siena are also an option, and the closest main motorway is the A1 to the SS478 for those arriving by car.

181231_636233323070687_1494790961_nNatalie moved from California to Italy in 2010, and is the writer behind the blog, An American in Rome. She provides accessible Italian lifestyle tidbits each month for the Mazzoni Wines blog, Live Like an Italian.

Cook Like an Italian: Bucatini Amatriciana

Since I’ve spent most of my life in Rome, I always thought that Amatriciana was a Roman dish. However, it is actually from Abruzzo! The name comes from a mountain city called Amatrice, which is in Lazio.

There are still many disputes over who invented this dish and who added a key ingredient to the sauce : the tomato! It must be San Marzano!

This is a simple dish to make, with just a few ingredients, so make sure you use the best quality, since you can taste every single element of the recipe.

Bucatini pasta is a thick spaghetti with a tiny hole in the center, guanciale is pork cheek, and make sure you use San Marzano tomatoes, imported from Italy, so you can recreate the authentic taste!


Bucatini alla Amatriciana

Pair with Mazzoni Vermentino Chardonnay

Serves  4

Total time 35 minutes


1 -28-ounces can San Marzano tomatoes crushed by hand

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/3 cup freshly grated Pecorino-Romano plus 1 tablespoon for topping at the end.

6 Oz. guanciale, pancetta or bacon thinly sliced

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 Pound bucatini pasta preferably Barilla or De Cecco

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


For the sauce:

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat.

Add guanciale, pancetta or bacon and sauté until rendered and crispy. 5 to 6 minutes.

Add pepper flakes, black pepper, the crushed tomatoes and stir.

Taste for salt and add the 1/2 teaspoon of salt only if necessary.

Reduce heat to low.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, 15 minutes.

When the sauce is cooked turn off the heat and add the Pecorino cheese.

Tip: turn the heat on again 1 minute before you drain the pasta!

For the pasta:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente. 8 minutes.

Drain and transfer immediately to the skillet with the tomato sauce, toss vigorously with tongs to coat.

Transfer to a serving dish and top with the reserved tablespoon of Pecorino.

Serve hot.

Authentic Italian Tip: Never use onions or wine in authentic Amatriciana!

Buon Appetito!

FrancescoInfluenced by memories in the kitchen with his mother and grandmother, Italian-born Francesco Romano is the man behind the food blog, Coco de Mama. He shares recipes and culinary knowledge with Mazzoni fans each month.

Parmigiana That You Can’t Resist!

I first realized how good Parmigiana was when I was 5 years old, sneaking in the kitchen while my Nonna was frying the eggplant. I would hide under the table and when she was distracted, I would grab one from the plate and run like a rabbit. It tasted like candy to me and I couldn’t resist them…and guess why? Because they were fried. In fact, frying eggplant makes them become sweet and creamy.

Growing up, I was concerned about the calories in this dish, but i would rather have a small amount of delicious freshly prepared food than a huge amount of bland food.

So I created these perfectly sized, round-shaped parmigiana that are the delicious and fulfilling.

Buon Appetito!

Authentic Italian Tip: Serve it with grilled whole wheat crostini to dip in the sauce.


Eggplant Parmigiana


1 Large eggplant (sliced 1/2-inch rounds)

1 can San Marzano Tomatoes

4 Slices mozzarella (1/8 of an inch)

1/4 cup basil (finely chopped)

1/4 cup olive oil (for frying)

4 Tablespoons Parmigiano Reggiano

2 Teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced

1 cans peeled San Marzano Tomatoes crushed by hand.

2 teaspoons salt


Frying the eggplantSlice the eggplant into 6 pieces about 1/2-inch thick. Lightly season each round with salt and pepper and place aside.

In a skillet, fry the eggplant slices at 325º until the slices turn deep brown on the bottom. Flip them and continue frying until the other side is the same color, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Remove the eggplant slices from the pan and place them on a plate lined with paper towels. Let them cool.

Simple tomato sauceHeat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for about 3 minutes. Do not burn!

Add the tomatoes and salt and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until thick. Remove from heat and let it rest.

Assembling and layeringPlace a 6-inch diameter by 2-inch round metal shaping ring into a shallow pan and add a tablespoon of tomato sauce to the bottom.

Layer inside the ring adding a slice of eggplant, 1 tablespoon of tomato sauce, a teaspoon of basil, one slice of mozzarella and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon grated Parmigiano-Regiano.

Repeat the layering process using 3 slices of eggplant per ring.

Sprinkle some Parmigiano on the top.

Baking:  Heat the oven to 350°. Put the layered eggplant in the oven and cook for 20 minutes. Carefully transfer the eggplant to a plate and remove the metal ring.

Add a sprinkle of Parmigiano to the top and serve immediately with the grilled crostini.

FrancescoInfluenced by memories in the kitchen with his mother and grandmother, Italian-born Francesco Romano is the man behind the food blog, Coco de Mama. He shares recipes and culinary knowledge with Mazzoni fans each month.


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