Shelby Vittek

The Great Wine Glass Debate: What Should You Drink Mazzoni Out Of?

If you’ve ever set out to buy a new set of wine glasses, you’re already familiar with the abundance of options available. There are an overwhelming number of styles and shapes to choose from — crystal or glass, with stems or without, clear or colored. And don’t forget about the wine glasses designed for specific grape varieties. Do you really need a special Pinot Noir glass to enjoy a glass of it?

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via Riedel

I remember when the Austrian glassware company, Riedel, released a new wine glass specifically designed to drink Malbec out of a few years ago. I was intrigued by the idea. I’m not generally a big drinker of Malbec — at least not the ones from Argentina. Often, I find them too high in alcohol and hot on the nose, with super ripe fruity aromas that aren’t always pleasing. But maybe this new Malbec glass could change that, I thought.

It didn’t. At least, not all that much. I compared the same wine poured into three different glasses — the new Malbec glass, the glass I usually drink reds from, and my typical white wine glass. The experience of drinking the wine in the Malbec glass and my usual red wine glass were nearly identical, but I learned that I should stick to drinking only whites from the other one.

So does it really matter what you drink your wine out of? Well…yes and no.

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You should certainly be drinking wine out of wine glasses. If you were to pour the same wine in a water glass and another in a wine glass, I assure you that you’d notice the difference in aromas and flavors.

The first thing you need to know when picking out a wine glass is to always stick with clear glasses so you are able to observe a wine’s color. While you don’t need a specific glass for Cabernet, another for Pinot Noir, and one more for Chardonnay, some wine glass shapes are better suited for certain wines. I use a Cabernet Sauvignon glass for all reds, and a Chardonnay glass for my whites, which I also drink my sparkling wines from. No need for a flute!

Almost important as having a set of good everyday wine glasses is serving wine at the right temperature. If the wine is too hot, the smell of alcohol will be overpowering, no matter what glass you ultimately end up pouring it into. And for the same reason, be sure to drink your wine from wine glasses that have stems. Those trendy stemless tumblers may be fun, but your hand gripped around them warms whatever is inside.

In the end, you don’t need to worry so much about having the perfect wine glass for your specific bottle. As long as you aren’t sipping your wine from a red Solo cup or mason jar, you’re already doing something right.

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


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.

Shelby

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 Terroirist.com. She provides accessible, approachable wine reviews for Live Like An Italian.


Have You Tried the Perfect Beach Wine?

wine lakeItalians haven’t been the only ones enjoying a vacation this month. I’ve spent a great deal of time at the beach over the past few weeks, too. Which means I’ve spent plenty of time contemplating and researching what, exactly, makes a great beach wine.

It has been an especially hot August here on the East Coast. So it’s been almost necessary to fill my fridge with crisp, dry, and refreshing white wines to help stay cool. My latest wine infatuation has been with the latest vintage of Mazzoni Vermentino-Chardonnay. Whether my day involved swimming, surfing, or just sitting in the sand, I looked forward to having a glass at home in my family’s beach house.

MazzoniVermentinoChardonnay2014Bottle_4CA blend of 75% vermentino and 25% chardonnay, it’s truly a beautiful wine, offering character and pleasant flavors at a very fair price. The vermentino brings brightness and freshness to the wine. And thanks to a touch of chardonnay, it’s richer and fuller bodied than the typical pinot grigio — the Italian white wine you might be more familiar with. Full of lime zest and green pear aromas, precise minerality and bright acidity on the finish, the Mazzoni Vermentino-Chardonnay was always revitalizing after a long day in the hot sun.

I believe that any wine that qualifies as a great beach wine should also be fit for a seafood feast. Several times, the Mazzoni Vermentino-Chardonnay passed the test. It’s an approachable wine to drink alone, but really shines alongside steamed clams or a dinner of freshly caught fish. The wine even paired well with an array of grilled vegetables.

It makes sense for the Mazzoni Vermentino-Chardonnay to be a pleasant accompaniment to any beach trip. After all, most of the grapes used to make this wine were grown off the western coast of Italy, in the Maremma. Vermentino craves the sea and thrives in these coastal areas of Tuscany. The last time I visited vineyards in the Maremma, I could sometimes see the blue sea in the distance, and on cool, breezy days, would catch a whiff of it in the air. And you can absolutely taste the sea’s influence in the Mazzoni Vermentino-Chardonnay — from its obvious saline minerality to its crisp freshness, it clearly offers a taste of the sea.

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If you haven’t been able to enjoy the Mazzoni Vermentino-Chardonnay after a summer beach day, you still have a few weeks left to do so. But don’t worry too much if you can’t — its refreshing qualities will last well into fall, when you just might need this bright reminder of the sea once again.

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


The Wine You Should Be Drinking This Spring

Who says the perfect spring wine needs to be zippy and white, or popularly pink? After all, it’s a season that’s all about transitions. Flowers don’t just bloom overnight, and our mornings still require a jacket, even if it’s just a light one. We don’t swap our snow boots for flip flops right away either. So why shouldn’t our preference for wine get time to adjust as well?

I’ve never been able to immediately switch from drinking the big, bold reds of winter to the lighter wines often associated with spring. Which is why my go-to wine of the moment is the just-released Mazzoni Rosso di Toscana 2012. A beautiful blend of 78% Sangiovese and 28% Merlot, the wine offers the best of the Old and New worlds. Juicy, with hints of anise and dried herbs, and velvety tannins, it has just enough depth, warmth, and weight to be comforting. But it also embodies the very best aspects of spring in a glass. Its bright red color and abundant aromas of berries and cherries are lively and fresh — a refreshing sensory wake up call from the heavier wines of winter I’ve lately grown accustomed to drinking.

MZI_05An even more important quality I look for in a good transition wine for spring is the ability to pair well with a range of different dishes. This is something you don’t often have to worry about with Italian wines. The cliché is usually true — Italian wines go well with food, perhaps better than any other wines in the world. With lots of acidity and elegant tannins, I’ve found that red wines from Italy are simply made for the table.

Now that the snow has finally melted and eating outside is possible again, I find myself craving all sorts of grilled foods. Over a sunny weekend earlier this month, I cleaned off the grill with a strong craving for steak. I threw on a few in-season vegetables, and uncorked the Mazzoni Rosso di Toscana 2012. Before long, I had a meal that rivaled one I enjoyed in Tuscany last year, with a wine that was the perfect companion. And don’t forget about classic comfort Italian dishes. The next evening, I finished the wine with a plate of homemade spaghetti and meatballs, wishing for another glass as soon as it was gone.

This spring, don’t be so quick to rush into drinking wines better suited for summer. Enjoy the newest vintage of Mazzoni’s Rosso di Toscana — both now and through the end of the year.

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