HAPPY NEW YEAR & BUON ANNO
Although well into the cold & gray days of winter, 2019 brings post-holiday reflection, an opportunity for new beginnings & a fresh start. A slow seasonal shift brings more light with each day & on March 20th the first full day of Spring Equinox!
It’s also winter in Montespertoli, although the grape vines & olive trees are dormant, Luca Nesi & team are busy with winter pruning & selecting those canes to grow new shoots before Spring bud break. In the cellar fermentation continues in tanks along with select aging in barrels.
New vintages, 2018 harvest extra virgin olive oil including IGP quality Olio Nuovo Toscano are expected to arrive stateside in early April. We are working diligently to also bring new certified organic quality balsamic vinegar & appreciate your patience. As our loyal subscribers you will be the first to know when available!
Wishing you a healthy & serene 2019, enjoying great food & wine with those dear to you.
There's lots of confusion regarding sulfites - they get bad press & actually are a useful ingredient in the winemaking process.
WHAT ARE SULFITES?
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.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN NATURAL AND ADDED SULFITES?
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.
ARE THERE SULFITE LIMITS?
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.
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.
DON’T SULFITES CAUSE HEADACHES?
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.
DO ORGANIC WINES CONTAIN LOWER AMOUNTS OF SULFITES?
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.
VILLA GRAZIELLA WINES - OUR ORGANIC COMMITTMENT:
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.
POSTCARD FROM ORTIGIA
Located on the eastern coast of Sicily, the Greek colony Siracusa or as we know it Syracuse, was founded in 734 BC. The 1st settlement was on the island of Oritgia, just off shore from “mainland” Siracusa. Named for the ancient Greek word for quail, the Corinthians thought the island resembled the shape of a bird. Because of its’ key geographic location surrounded by water, it was “visited” by ancient Romans, Spanish, Arab & Germanic civilizations. Each represented in the architecture, Baroque monuments, authentic traditions and of course food.
It’s hard not to become smitten with Ortigia; a daily cadence of morning coffee & late afternoon aperitivi, the surrounding Tyrrhenian sea, the daily golden hour with a brilliant descending sunlight. Add exploring the narrow streets & discovering a hidden courtyard treasure and the gracious hospitality of the locals. Then there’s the food; lunch, dinner & even breakfast were fresh, delicious and truly embodied Ortigia’s rich culinary traditions.
We were fortunate to tour the local Ortigia food market on Via Trento. A feast for the senses is an understatement; pungent aromas of wild oregano, the fishmonger’s sing-song local dialect, proudly displayed deep red tomato estratto, fresh field greens with a bite, local almonds, figs, pistachios & prickly pear worth the work to open & savor.Our culinary lesson included fresh caught fried fish, local cheeses & cured meats, an astounding array of amari liquors, capers, olives & spices, ricotta salata, classic spaghetti alla Norma & the local granita specialty.
Less than a mile long and only 657 yards across, the compact island of Ortigia is rich with +2,700 years of edible education, we can’t wait to go back for more lessons.
CAPER & SUNDRIED TOMATO CROSTINI
We tasted delicious crostini at the Ortigia market on Via Trento. A symphony of smoky-salty-tangy flavors with capers, sundried tomatoes, garlic & paprika, we vowed to make these delicious toasts once stateside. Serve with healthy Mediterranean veggies; artichoke hearts, peppers & olives for a crowd-pleasing antipasto. Enjoy with beer, cider or wine. 4-6 servings.
4-5 Fresh garlic gloves
3-4 Tablespoon Villa Graziella Organic extra-virgin olive oil + extra for drizzling
4-6 oz fresh goat cheese
1 1/2 tsp Spanish paprika
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes dried
3-4 Tablespoons capers, packed in salt-rinsed & dried or in water drained & dried
1/2 Crusty baguette bread
Remove goat cheese from refrigerator & allow warm to room temperature.
Heat oven to 350F˚ degrees, place garlic cloves, unpeeled on a pan, drizzle a small amount of olive oil over the top, roast garlic until soft approx. 12-15 minutes.
Remove, set aside & allow to cool.
Cut bread into 1/3-inch slices, brush olive oil on both sides, place on parchment lined baking sheet.
Toast bread until golden brown, remove from oven, set aside.
Combine softened goat cheese & paprika in a bowl, mix thoroughly.
Squeeze roasted garlic into mixture, add 1 tbsp of olive oil, paprika, season to taste & mix. Spread cheese mixture on each slice of bread.
Arrange sun-dried tomatoes & capers onto each slice of bread.
Drizzle with olive oil, transfer to serving plate.
Serve & enjoy with Villa Graziella Organic Rosso or Bianco Toscano IGT
Helpful tips* Soak sundried tomatoes in warm water 15-30 minutes until soft, drain & pat dry. Keep liquid to boil pasta, add flavor to stocks or sauces.
Rinse capers of salt by soaking them in tepid water for 5-10 minutes. Gently rinse them in a sieve, repeat process several times & gently pat dry. Double the recipe & seal remaining cheese mixture in a covered container, will keep for 1 ½ weeks.
Adapted from thespruceeats.com/goat-cheese-with-paprika-recipe
THANK YOU, GRAZIE MILLE for helping us promote a greater awareness of sustainability & global ecological preservation. A better understanding of the health & environmental benefits of organics. Paying it forward to support communities & organizations committed to these movements is important to us and a win for all of us! A few organizations you helped us support.