Italian Wine Tastings/Pairings at ICCC

Hi, my name is Sheila, and I’m addicted to wine tastings.  Wine tasting is how you learn what you like without committing to an entire bottle!  Although I may not be able to distinguish notes and subtleties like the professionals, I do appreciate the aromas and flavors of each taste.  Through wine tasting, you get a short guided tour through a region’s geology, topography, weather, agriculture, wine production, and culture…all in a few sips.  Specific to regions of Italy and my love for Italian culture, I often always attend wine tastings at Houston’s Italian Cultural & Community Center (ICCC).  Since the last write up on Wine Infused Events at ICCC, I’ve attended more wine tastings held by ICCC featuring and celebrating the regions around Lombardia and Southern Italy.



Come Wine with Us – Milan Style

Having never been to Norther Italy (north of Cinque Terre, anyway), my husband attended ICCC’s Come Wine with Us Italian wine tasting in April featuring wines from the Northern Italian region of Lombardia, presented by Food and Wine Historian Jeremy Parzen.  The wines were paired with Borgo Food Station Chef Monica Fallone’s bite-size courses.  Below are the pairings (and apologies for the cell phone quality photos, I felt like a huge Nikon would’ve been distracting to the other guests).



White/Rose Wines

The first course, potatoes & cheese croquettes, was paired with CaMaiol Sabastian Brut, and was a lovely start to the evening.  Next up were salmon & terragon Borgo balls paired with CaMaiol Lugan Molin.  And the third course was chicken brochettes served on a bed of sauteed mushrooms and paired with CaMaiol Chiaretto Garda rose.  Maybe I have a predisposition for salmon colored roses, but this rose was bliss!



Red Wines

Our fourth course, penne pasta, beef & pork ragout was paired with the first red wine, CaMaiol Groppello Joel Garda.  And the final course was oven roasted pot roast, polenta & aged cheese creamy sauce paired with CaMaiol Fabio Contato Garda Rosso.  I don’t always go off diet (I avoid dairy as a rule), but everything served at these tastings is always absolutely divine and worth falling off the wagon.  Not a shred of guilt felt here.



Come Wine with Us – A Tour of Southern Italy

Since we had just cruised the Western Mediterranean in March, which included a stop in Palermo, Sicily, we were thrilled that the ICCC’s Come Wine with Us Italian wine tasting in July featured Southern Italy.  We tasted wines from Sicily, Calabria, Puglia, and Basilicata, presented by Philip Cusimano, and paired with bites from Sud Italia Ristorante.



White/Rose Wines

The first course was carpaccio di polpo (octopus carpaccio topped with lemon vinagrette) paired with Caruso e Minini “Terre di Giumara” Inzolia from Sicily.  This was my first time trying octopus…my inner 10 year old expected to hate it but I was shocked at how tasty it was!  I ate octopus.  And I liked it.  Or maybe the wine pairing was that good.  The second course was insalata di fave (fava bean salad with lemon juice and olive oil) paired with I Greco “Savu” Rose from Calabria.  Hannibal Lecter would have you assume that Chianti should be paired with fava beans, and being a Chianti lover myself I would be inclined to agree…but this rosato/rose pairing was wonderful.



Red Wines

The third course was ragu di manzo (braised beef with a red wine reduction served over mashed potatoes) paired with Caruso e Minini, Nero d’Avola from Sicily.  This is when I should’ve been slapped out of a trance, the pairing was so good I could’ve just died.  But there were more pairings to be had!  The fourth course was filetto d’agnello (slow braised lamb loin) paired with Vespa “Il Bruno dei Vespa” Primitivo from Puglia.  And the final course was braciola di maiale (pork chop served with an aglianico wine reduction) paired with Cantine del Notaio “l’Atto” Aglianico del Vulture from Basilicata.  So much meat!




After the final course, we were surprised with a shot of house-made Limoncello, a lemon liqueur after dinner drink (digestivo).  What a perfect way to end the evening!



The Italian Cultural & Community Center hosts these wine pairing events about once a quarter.  If you see me at a future event, come say “ciao!”