Sulfites Simplified

There's lots of confusion regarding sulfites - they get bad press & actually are a useful ingredient in the winemaking process.

Very simply, sulfites (also known as sulfur dioxide) help preserve wine and slow chemical reactions which cause wine to go bad.

Sulfur was used in winemaking (instead of just cleaning wine barrels) in the early 1900s to stop bacteria and other yeasts from growing.

Natural sulfites are just that, completely natural compounds produced during fermentation of all wine. Sulfite-free wines simply do not exist. Added sulfites preserve freshness and protect wine from oxidation, unwanted bacteria and yeasts.

Wines are labeled “contains sulfites” if they contain more than 10ppm (parts per million). Legal limits in the United States are as high as 350 ppm for conventional wine and most range between 50-150 ppm. For comparison sake, a can of soda contains 350 ppm.

Sulfite Levels.png

Often, red wines contain less sulfites than white wines and dry wines contain less sulfites than sweet wines. Also in most cases, lower-quality wines contain more sulfites than higher-quality wines.

The primary causes of wine headaches are not sulfites – it’s histamines or dehydration!

The FDA estimates that less than 1% of the U.S. population actually have a sulfite allergy, and those who do are most likely asthmatic. Many foods contain sulfites, most significantly more than wine.

Researchers maintain it is actually histamines, a byproduct of yeast during fermentation, intensify allergy like symptoms after drinking wine; coughing, head aches & sneezing.

Staying hydrated can help to deter wine headaches - don’t forget to drink plenty of water! It’s suggested to drink a full 8-oz (250 ml) glass of water with every serving of wine.

In the US, an organic wine must be made with organically grown grapes and no added sulfites. In the EU, organic wines may contain natural sulfites but with lower maximums than non-organic wines. The EU legal limit for sulfites in organic wines is 100 milligrams per liter.


  • Our wines contain a maximum sulfite level of 40 ppm

  • No commercial yeast added, only ambient or indigenous sulfites.

  • No added artificial dyes or colors.

  • No synthetic fragrances added to enhance the aroma.

  • No sugars or flavor agents used to “improve” the taste, texture or mouth feel.

  • No oak chips or oak powder.


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Tuscan Ragù Sauce

In Italian cuisine, ragù is a meat-based sauce that is commonly served with pasta. Ragù was created by Alberto Alvisi in the 18th century.

In northern Italian regions, including Tuscany, ragù typically uses minced, chopped or ground meat, cooked with sauteed vegetables in a liquid. The meats may include one or more of beef, chicken, pork, duck, goose, lamb, mutton, veal, or game. The liquids can be broth, stock, water, wine, milk, cream or tomato, often in combination. If tomatoes are included, they are typically limited relative to the meat, making it a meat stew rather than a tomato sauce with added meat.


  • 1 carrot

  • 2 celery stalks

  • 3 cloves of garlic

  • 1 bunch flat leaf Italian parsley

  • 2 large yellow onions

  • 2 cans San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes, 28 oz each

  • 1 can diced tomatoes, 14.5 oz each

  • 1 tomato paste, 6 oz

  • 3 cans tomato juice, 11.5 oz each

  • 1 lb ground veal

  • 1 lb ground chuck

  • 1 lb ground pork


  1. Chop celery and carrots in food processor

  2. Sauté the celery and carrots in olive oil (adding more oil as needed) in large sauce pan

  3. Chop onions and garlic in food processor, sauté with carrots and celery

  4. Add all meat to sauté mixture, cook until browned while incorporating meat into vegetable mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste (1 tablespoon salt, 1 tsp pepper)

  5. Chop parsley in food processor.

  6. Once meat is fully browned, add parsley to mixture. Mix for 1 minute.

  7. Add can of tomato paste to mixture, incorporate into meat.

  8. In a blender, puree cans of whole tomatoes 1 at a time. Pour into meat mixture and stir.

  9. At can of diced tomatoes to sauce.

  10. Add 3 cans of tomato juice to sauce.

  11. Add salt and pepper to taste, stirring occasionally.

  12. Heat to boil, turn heat down, place lid on and simmer for at least 1 hr

  13. Serve with pasta of your choice and enjoy with Villa Graziella Organic wine.

History Source

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Biscotti, known also as Cantuccini, are Italian biscuits that originated in the city of Prato. They are twice-baked, oblong-shaped, dry, crunchy, and traditionally dipped in coffee. Because they’re baked twice and very dry they could be stored for long periods of time. Such nonperishable food was particularly useful during journeys and wars, and twice baked breads were a staple food of the Roman Legions.

The traditional recipe has morphed over time and varies across many kitchens. Whether they include almonds, walnuts, cinnamon, or other spices, they are always delicious and make a great cookie for the holidays.


  • 7 Eggs

  • 1 ½ Cups of Sugar

  • 1 ½ Cups Villa Gabriella Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • 3 Teaspoons of Baking Powder

  • 2 Teaspoons of Vanilla Extract

  • 5 Cups of Flour

  • 1 Cup Chopped Nuts (optional)


  1. Mix all wet ingredients together including sugar

  2. Sift all dry ingredients together, add to wet mixture 1 cup at a time

  3. Mix in nuts by hand

  4. In large spoonfuls, drop on an ungreased cookie sheet

  5. Continue to add spoonfuls in a row, connecting to each other

  6. Complete 2 rows on one cookie sheet, each about 2-3 inches wide

  7. Bake for 20 minutes in a 350 degree, preheated oven

  8. After 20 minutes, remove from over and let sit for 5 minutes

  9. Cut into slices, and place back onto cookie sheet

  10. Bake the cookies for another 15 minutes

Enjoy with coffee, hot chocolate or on their own!

Tried, Tasted & True! At Villa Graziella Organic our team tries & tastes every recipe we feature. While we love to share our family recipes & those of talented home cooks & chefs, sometimes we adapt them so they are even easier to make. As with our products, our goal is for you to have a healthy & delicious experience using Villa Gabriella recipes. So try them out in your kitchen, feel free to tweak them & please tell us what you think.

We welcome your comments & feedback!

History Source

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Holiday Wine Wisdom

Holidays bring plenty of celebrating & making merry, yet they can be stressful too. Make it a serene holiday season and follow these wine suggestions for choosing, serving and sipping!

  1. Get an idea on the gathering - Cocktails & appi’s, afternoon open house, sit-down holiday dinner or Sunday brunch. The type of gathering will indicate the type & quantity of foods served.

  2. Choose food friendly wines - Many holiday meals include several side dishes with many different flavors which can be challenging. Skip the super sweet or super tannic wines, instead look for balanced wines that pair with different food types & styles. Consider Merlot, Pinot Noir or Zinfandel red wines, Pinot Gris, dry Riesling or Vouvray whites.

  3. Try the other bubbles - Spanish Cava, Italian Prosecco or Spumante are more economical than French Champagne. Versions include rosé, sweet to bone dry and great for tasting & toasting.

  4. Consider a case - f you find a wine you really like, purchase a case (12 bottles). Many wine retailers offer discounts of 10-15% off a case, saving time and money for impromptu invitations & unexpected guests.

  5. Prepare ahead punch - Make it easy on yourself and make a punch with fruity red wines from South America or Spain. Add festive, seasonal fruit, keep chilled & allow your guests to serve themselves.

  6. Sweet for the sweets - Dessert wines go well with holiday cakes, candies, cookies & pies. Pair Italian Moscato, Hungarian Tokaji wines or fortified wines like Port & Sherry with a variety of holiday desserts. Keep in mind the wine should be just as sweet or sweeter than the dessert.

Need help? Consult your local wine merchant for their knowledgeable recommendations.

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Olive Oil & Rosemary Cornbread

Give, receive & enjoy fresh cornbread this holiday season. We tweaked a recipe using our extra virgin olive oil & fresh rosemary for golden, tender & moist bread with just enough sweetness. Enjoy it with a glass of wine as an appetizer or serve with your holiday lunch or dinner.

Yields approx. 8 slices.

Simple Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup Villa Graziella organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil + more for drizzling

  • 2/3 cup of buttermilk

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup yellow corn meal

  • 2 large eggs, slightly beaten

  • 3 tablespoons organic sugar

  • 2 tablespoons of fresh, chopped rosemary plus 2 sprigs for garnish

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • ½ teaspoon baking soda

  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

Easy Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425F◦ degrees, arrange rack in the oven to the center.

  2. Generously brush a loaf pan with olive oil.

  3. Place cornmeal into a large bowl, sift flour with baking soda, salt, sugar & rosemary into bowl.

  4. In a second bowl, lightly whisk eggs, add buttermilk, then olive oil to bowl with eggs.

  5. Mix on medium speed until combined.

  6. Combine dry ingredients into the bowl of wet ingredients, in 2 batches, mix lightly on low speed.

  7. Pour batter into a loaf pan, distribute evenly, top with a drizzle of olive oil & 2 rosemary sprigs.

  8. Bake until golden brown approx. 25-30 minutes, or if a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

  9. Remove from oven & cool approx. 15 minutes, run a knife or spatula around the edges to release. Cool 30 minutes.

  10. Slice & serve at room temperature. Enjoy alone with Villa Graziella Bianco Toscano IGT white wine.

RecipesAmy WrightComment
Fresh Italian Plum & Olive Oil Cake

Using Villa Graziella Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil instead of butter, with fresh seasonal Italian plums for a guilt free dessert. Enjoy it for dessert, it tastes even better the next day for breakfast!

9 Servings

Easy Ingredients

1 lb. red or Italian plums (about 6)
3 ounces Villa Graziella Organic extra virgin olive oil, + 1 teaspoon to grease pan
1 ½ cups all-purpose, unbleached flour, + extra to dust the cake pan
¾ cup of turbinado sugar (Sugar in The Raw)
½ cup milk
3 eggs room temperature
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon nutmeg

Simple Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325◦F

  2. Grease a 9’’ round or square pan with 1 teaspoon olive oil & flour

  3. Cut plums into thin wedges

  4. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg & sugar, add oil, blend until the mixture resembles coarse meal

  5. Combine milk, eggs & vanilla

  6. Stir in dry ingredients, mix until moistened

  7. Pour into prepared pan

  8. Push plums into batter in rows leaving skin side exposed

  9. Bake about 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean

  10. Let cake cool, serve & enjoy!

TIP: Cover securely to prevent from drying out.

RecipesAmy WrightComment
One Pot Chicken Tortellini

October is National Pasta Month & we’re celebrating with meat & cheese filled life preserver shaped tortellini pasta! Tortellini dates to the early 1660’s region of Emilia Romagna in north central Italy. Legend suggests an infatuated inn keeper spied upon the sleeping Goddess of Love Venere (Venus) through the key hole of the door to her room. So taken with her shapely form, he filled pasta dough he was making with cheese, twisting it around his ring finger to resemble the form of her navel. We tweaked a recipe using Villa Graziella Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, cherry tomatoes & kale with boneless chicken breast for a nutritious, flavor packed, week-night dinner. Makes 4 abundant main course servings.

Simple Ingredients

  • 1-pound boneless skinless chicken breasts or tenders, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 3 tablespoons Villa Graziella Organic Extra Virgin olive oil, plus extra to flavor

  • 20 ounces of fresh or refrigerated tortellini

  • 2 cups fresh (or frozen) kale or spinach, washed, dried, cut into pieces, discard the stems

  • 3 cups organic chicken broth

  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

  • 1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

  • 2 tablespoons flour

  • 2 tablespoons chopped, fresh parsley

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • Sea salt & cracked pepper

Easy Directions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat

  2. Add chicken to the pan, season with salt & pepper, cook until browned 5-8 minutes

  3. Remove the chicken from the pan; cover to keep warm & set aside

  4. Add butter to the pan, melt until foaming, whisk flour, cook for 1 minute

  5. Stir in chicken broth, simmer 2-4 minutes or until slightly thickened

  6. Add tortellini pasta to the pan, bring to a boil cooking 4 minutes, stirring occasionally

    ensuring tortellini is coated with liquid

  7. Stir in cream & parmesan cheese, simmer over medium heat 1-3 minutes

  8. Return the chicken back to the pan with kale, cook 2-3 minutes, or until kale is wilted

  9. Fold in tomatoes to the tortellini mixture

  10. Sprinkle parsley over the top, serve & enjoy!

Tip: Let tortellini stand covered for 2-4 minutes allowing sauce to thicken & flavors to fully blend.

Click here for the inspiration recipe!

RecipesAmy WrightComment
Wine Storage 101

Prior to popping the cork or twisting the cap learn the Do's & the Don'ts. Read our article in the latest edition of Chicago Woman Magazine!

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Torta di Cioccolato & Olio di Oliva di Chef Rosa Hanslits’ Dark Chocolate & Olive Oil Cake

We’re celebrating National Dessert Day with a Torta di Ciccolato & Olio Di Oliva recipe from one of our FAVORITE people, Rosa Hanslits of Nicole Taylor Pasta Shop & Back Room Eatery in Broad Ripple, Indianapolis. We swapped butter with a healthier choice using Villa Graziella Organic Extra Virgin Olive for delicious dark chocolate cake! 8 to 10 slices.

Easy Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup Villa Gabriella Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, + more for the pan

  • 2 cups King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour, + more for dusting

  • ¼ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder

  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt

  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda

  • ½ cup sugar in the raw

  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk

  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

  • ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon

  • ½ teaspoon finely grated orange zest

For the glaze

  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped

  • 2 teaspoons honey, plus more for drizzling

  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

  • ½ teaspoon finely grated orange zest

  • Large pinch of sea salt

  • ½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

Simple Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush a roundpan or Bundt pan with olive oil & dust with flour.

  2. Whisk the cocoa powder and ¼ cup hot water in a small bowl, let cool slightly & set aside.

  3. Combine flour, salt, baking soda in a bowl.

  4. Combine sugar, egg & egg yolk, vanilla & lemon zest, beat on medium high speed until pale & thick, approx. 1 minute.

  5. Slowly drizzle in olive oil. Add the cocoa mixture & beat until combined.

  6. Reduce the mixer speed to low, add the flour mixture & beat until just incorporated.

  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a rack.

  8. Remove from pan & let cool completely on the rack.

  9. Make the glaze, put the chocolate, honey, olive oil, salt in a pan, heat over a medium flame, stirring occasionally.

  10. Drizzle over cake, sprinkle sea salt, cracked pepper & orange peel, let cake thoroughly cool before enjoying!


RecipesAmy WrightComment
Balsamic Glazed Salmon Fillets

October is National Seafood Month! Enjoy an easy dinner with fresh balsamic glazed salmon fillets. We tweaked a recipe from for a healthy & delicious dinner! Serves 5 to 6.

Easy Ingredients

  • 6 5-ounce-fresh salmon fillets

  • 1/3 cup Villa Graziella Organic 8 Year Aged Balsamic Vinegar di Modena

  • 3 tablespoons of Villa Graziella Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • 5 teaspoons Dijon mustard

  • 3 tablespoons of dry white wine

  • 1 tablespoon honey

  • 1 tablespoon oregano

  • Sea salt & fresh cracked pepper to season

Simple Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking sheet with foil & brush with 1 tablespoon olive oil.

  2. In a small saucepan, over medium heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

  3. Add garlic & cook until soft & golden, approx. 3-5 minutes, do not brown.

  4. Add white wine, honey, balsamic vinegar, mustard, salt & pepper.

  5. Simmer, uncovered for 5 minutes, until liquid thickens, remove from heat & set aside.

  6. Arrange salmon on foil lined baking sheet, skin side down.

  7. Brush fillets with balsamic glaze, season with oregano.

  8. Bake 10-15 minutes. To check for doneness, insert a knife on an angle into the center of salmon & gently part the meat. If opaque & flakes into small pieces, salmon is cooked.

  9. Remove fillets from oven, brush with remaining glaze, season with salt & pepper, allow fillets to “rest” 2-3 minutes & remove skin.

  10. Serve & enjoy with Villa Graziella artisan crafted IGT Bianco Toscano white wine made with organic grapes.

Click here for the inspiration recipe!

RecipesAmy WrightComment