LIVE LIKE AN ITALIAN

What’s the Perfect Everyday Wine?

Just like every wise home cook has a collection of essentials in their pantry to use for a quick and satisfying meal, every smart wine lover should have a well-stocked inventory of wine bottles. Whether it’s to aid you during a bad case of the Mondays, alongside a take out dinner, or with last-minute company, every household has a need for an everyday wine. I am always prepared, with a generous stash of perfect wines for any and all occasions.

There are wines that have a place in every home, and Mazzoni’s Piemonte Barbera is one of them. Need a wine to pair with the delivery pizza you just ordered? Or a pleasurable bottle to bring with you to a friend’s house? How about a wine to enjoy as you’re busy catching up on all your TV shows? Grab a bottle of Mazzoni Piemonte Barbera from your collection and you’re good to go.

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I recently added the newest release, the 2012 Mazzoni Piemonte Barbera, to the list of wines I hoard several of at a time to save me during those everyday emergencies. Made completely with barbera grapes from Italy’s Piemonte region, the wine is full of elegant aromas of black cherries and dried flowers, with raspberry tart flavors. It’s a juicy and extremely gulpable wine — in the very best way. Its mild tannins and bright acidity make it an excellent match with a range of foods, too. This is an excellent wine for pizza night, with grilled meats, or even just by itself on a Tuesday night.

It’s fitting that one of my favorite everyday red wines is made from Barbera. In Piemonte, the wine region that Barbera calls home, it’s often referred to as “the people’s wine.” Unlike the Barolo and Barberesco wines made from Nebbiolo in the same region that are saved for special occasions, Barbera is affordable and an everyday sensation. In my experience, I’ve found the best Barbera comes from Asti (located in the Piemonte region), which is where Mazzoni grows their Barbera for this wine. You can taste the quality of the grapes upon first sip of the wine, and its elegance lasts until the very last drop.

If you haven’t already established a small collection of wine at home, get started. And if you love Barbera as much as I do, perhaps consider buying a whole case. I promise you’ll find plenty of reasons in your everyday life to uncork a bottle.


How to Live La Dolce Vita from Home

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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.


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!

Francesco

Bucatini alla Amatriciana

Pair with Mazzoni Vermentino Chardonnay

Serves  4

Total time 35 minutes

Ingredients

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

Directions

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.


Here’s What You Should Be Drinking on Your Summer Holiday

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The month of August means it’s summer holiday, or ferragosto, in Italy. It’s hard to believe, but it’s true; nearly everyone in the country takes a vacation for two weeks to a month in August. Shopkeepers and restaurant owners close their businesses, and the city streets are quiet as families flock to the beach, the mountains, or the countryside to relax, recharge, and prepare for the autumn ahead.

Even the Mazzoni team takes time off from their work in the vineyards and the cellar. Mazzoni winemaker Alessandro Bindocci and his staff are on holiday until August 17, and will be back just in time to begin harvest.

As for the rest of us here in the United States, we can’t all be so fortunate to take a long vacation this month. We’ve been celebrating the end of summer with smaller moments, like delicious meals shared with family and friends, or a relaxing evening in the backyard.

MZI Vermentino Food Pairing

Of course, we’ve also been drinking lots of wine. Summer is the perfect time for seafood and sharing boards of charcuterie, so Mazzoni Vermentino Chardonnay has made several appearances on the patio this month. A perfect pairing with oysters, mussels, and medium aged cheeses, this wine is an elegant, savory, and balanced choice to finish out the summer. Aromas of ripened pear and apples along with mineral and spicy notes recall the Italian origin of this Vermentino, and make you feel like you’re almost sitting in the Tuscan countryside, enjoying your very own ferragosto.

So what’s your favorite Mazzoni to drink in the summer? Have any good recipe ideas to pair with Vermentino-Chardonnay? Let us know in the comments below!


7 Things Italians Think About Americans

As Italy-lovers, it is easy to come up with a list of traits we admire about Italian life, but after celebrating the good old US of A on the Fourth of July, we wanted to take a look at what Italians think of Americans.  The stereotypes that live on in the eyes of Italians are sometimes half-true, and a few are very funny.

  1. Americans work too much.
    14 days of vacation a year? Working 8-6 every day? Americans are officially hard workers. Italians both admire this trait (and the American economy), but at other times they recoil in fear at the prospect of so few holidays and time with family.
  2. America has the best honeymoon destinations. Did you come to Italy, or dream of visiting for your honeymoon or anniversary? Well, Italians dream of going to the U.S. for their post-wedding trips. America is a top honeymoon destination, with the most popular itinerary being a tour of California, a stop at the Grand Canyon, ending up to close the trip in Las Vegas.
  3. Americans like Italian food that is a little bit weird. It is. Meat and pasta together?? Meatballs should be served as a second course on their own, after pasta. Chicken Alfredo? Not a thing in Italy! And don’t get Italians started on cheese/peperoni/hotdogs inside pizza crusts. Italians are pretty sure Americans are doing a lot of things wrong in the food department.
  4. Americans get everything to go. Why get a take away coffee? Why eat dinner in your car? Italians see Americans as leading a more frantic lifestyle and always being on the move. Give yourself a break during the day for a moment of calm, instead of constantly running to the next commitment.
  5. Americans move houses, a lot. In Italy, the most typical kind of lease is called a 4+4. That’s four years, renewing automatically for another four years unless something goes wrong—so an 8-year minimum lease on an apartment! It is also more common to stay in the place you were born and raised. Italians watch Americans go off to college, often far from their hometowns and families, and wonder why we transfer ourselves to cities so far away.
  6. Each American eats a whole turkey on Thanksgiving, by themselves. Americans have the TV show Friends to thank for this one, but many Italians have heard rumors about Thanksgiving and the feast that goes along with it. One rumor that lives on is that Americans eat a lot on this day—an entire turkey to each person, rather than a turkey per party!
  7. Americans are hard to stereotype because the country is so big and the culture so varied. Sure, there are stories of loud-talking tourists, but overall Italians see America as a land of great opportunity, with motivated and professional people, funny food, but also very unique from each other!

Did we miss any Italian thoughts on America??

181231_636233323070687_1494790961_n Natalie 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.


Our Favorite Recipes for a Complete Italian Summer Meal

With the Fourth of July right around the corner, we’re planning lots of outdoor meals to share with our friends and family. Of course, we’re putting an Italian spin on things, so we’ve assembled a full four courses of light, refreshing, summer recipes that will be a hit at all your parties this weekend. The whole meal is a perfect pairing with a glass of crisp, cool Mazzoni Pinot Grigio or Vermentino Chardonnay.  What are you most excited to make? Share in the comments below!

Trio

1. Antipasto – Bruschetta Trio

Bruschetta, or slices of toasted, rustic bread topped with simple ingredients, is a classic choice for a starter to an Italian meal. Since it’s usually served with cold toppings, it’s also a perfect choice for an outdoor dinner. Choose from the classic tomato and basil, prosciutto and melon, or pickled eggplant varieties in this recipe – or make all three!

Trofie with Sundried Tomato Basil Pesto

2. Primo Piatto – Pasta with Sundried Tomato Basil Pesto

This dish is perfect for summer because it can be served hot or cold, like a pasta salad. A slight variation on traditional pesto, this recipe incorporates sun-dried tomatoes, which are a mid-late summer treat in Sicily. Serve it as a lighter first course, or as a side dish to your entree.

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3. Secondo Piatto – Lemon Rosemary Chicken

If you’re Italian, there’s most likely have an army of relatives walking through your door this holiday weekend. We’re a big fan of this easy chicken recipe for large family reunions. There are only six ingredients, and it can easily be doubled or tripled depending on how many mouths you have to feed. The best part? You’ll have these chicken breasts prepared and grilled in under a half hour so you can spend more time enjoying your family!

Serving has begun

4. Dolce – Crostata di Fragole

We love to save the best for last – and if this isn’t the most delicious thing you’ve ever seen, there’s something wrong with you. Perfect for a hot summer day, this crostata is a traditional Italian dessert, and melts in your mouth. Grab a slice before it’s all gone – this last dish won’t last long!

Buon Appetito!


Chill Out: 4 Things You Should Know About Chilling Your Wine

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With summer in full swing and the Fourth of July right around the corner, we’re spending most of our time outside, eating al fresco dinners and having picnics in the park. And no outdoor meal is complete without a bottle of wine or two. But as the heat rises, so will the temperature of your wine – so how do you keep your whites (and reds?) cold enough to enjoy all summer long?

Of course, you’re welcome to serve your wine at the temperature that best suits your tastes. However, we do have a few ideas and guidelines that will shed some light on the art of chilling, and will increase your guests’ enjoyment of the wine. You’ll be drinking like an Italian in no time!

shutterstock_1738609941. Refrigerate that white! You probably already know that you should keep your whites (like Vermentino Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio) in the refrigerator. What you might not know is that you should also take the bottle out of the fridge for a bit before serving it. While a nice chilled white is refreshing on a summer day, letting the bottle sit out for 15-20 minutes will bring out the full depth of aromas and flavors in the wine. Don’t miss out by drinking the wine completely chilled!

2. Yes, you might want to put that bottle of red in the fridge too. But only for a little bit! If you don’t store your reds in a cool cellar, it could be 70-75 degrees or hotter on a summer day, which is a little too warm, and will taste overly alcoholic. Avoid this by putting your bottle of red in the fridge for 20 minutes or so before serving it. Fuller bodied, tannic reds (like Rosso di Toscana) need less chilling, and should be served around 65 degrees. Lighter reds like Barbera can be served at a lower temperature (55 degrees or even lower in the summer, depending on personal taste).

3. Keep it cold! If you’re hosting a party (especially outdoors) in the summer, make sure your wine not only comes out cold, but stays cold throughout the evening. Submerge your whites in an ice bucket on the table, or in a cooler if you have multiple bottles. Make sure your wine serving area is well shaded in a spot where the sun can’t heat up your wine too much.

4. Chill it – FAST! If you have an Italian family, you know it’s always a full house, with frequent (sometimes unannounced!) visits from friends and neighbors. Don’t be caught unprepared when there’s a sudden need for a cool bottle of wine. Chill your bottle fast by wrapping it in a cold, wet paper towel and sticking it in the freezer for 15 minutes. When you take it out, just make sure you put it on ice to keep it cold!

So what’s your favorite wine to drink in the summer? Do you have any other tricks for keeping your wine cold? Share with us in the comments below! 


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