I’m a habitual wine taster. Wine tasting is how you learn what you like without committing to an entire bottle! I may not be able to distinguish notes and subtleties like the professionals, but I do appreciate the aromas and flavors of each taste. Through wine tasting, you get a guided tour through a region’s geology, topography, weather, agriculture, wine production, and culture…all in a glass. Specific to regions of Italy and my love for Italian culture, I often attend wine tastings at Houston’s Italian Cultural & Community Center (ICCC). Since the last write up on Italian Wine Tastings at ICCC, I’ve attended more wine infused events held by ICCC, and I just registered for an upcoming Italian Wine Seminar.
Come Wine with Us – Campania and Amalfi
My husband and I visited the Amalfi Coast in 2014, so we jumped at the opportunity to attend ICCC’s Come Wine with Us Italian wine tasting featuring wines from the Southern Italian region of Campania presented by Carlos A. Flores from Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits, and paired with bites by Chef Giancarlo Ferrara from Amalfi Ristorante in January. Everything was lovely – the presentation, the wines, and the expertly paired bites. 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).
Terredora DiPaulo Falanghina Corte di Giso Irpinia was paired with tartare di dentica e salmone (snapper and salmon tartare served with mandarin zabaglione). This pairing was a crisp and refreshing way to start the evening. Terredora DiPaulo Loggia della Serra Greco di Tufo was paired with ostriche arrostite al prezzemolo (baked oyster with parsley, lemon, and breadcrumbs). This pairing was a great segue into the savories.
Terredora DiPaulo Rosato Rosaenovae Irpinia was paired with terrina di coniglio e pistacchi al tartufo (rabbit with pistachios and black truffle served with polenta taragna). Rosato is a always a great idea, and as far as color is concerned, the more salmon (less pink), the better!
Terredora DiPaulo Aglianico Campania was paired with paccheri al brasato di manzo gratinati (paccheri with braised beef and smoked provola). Lactose intolerance be damned! This was worth it. Terredora DiPaulo Fatica Contadina Taurasi was paired with filetto di maiale in crosta di sfoflia e funghi (pork tenderloin en croute with mushroom served on a Taurasi reduction). This pairing was divine! Think beef wellington but Italian and not so filling that you hate yourself afterwards. Everything was so perfect.
Dine Around – Amalfi Ristorante
We also attended a dinner at Amalfi Ristorante hosted by ICCC and Chef Giancarlo Ferrara featuring a prix fixe menu in February. Before dinner, we enjoyed pizzette (small pizzas) and arancine (stuffed rice balls). For the antipasto course, my husband enjoyed the rich Vellutata d’Astice al Brandy (velvet Maine lobster bisque with Hennessey brandy and black olive crostino), and I enjoyed the colorful Insalata Profumato (salad with arugula, Belgium endive, candied tomatoes, goat cheese, and Sorrento orange infused olive oil). For the secondo piatto course, my husband enjoyed the Ravioli al Radicchio con Costine de Manzo (homemade ravioli filled with roasted radicchio Treviso in red wine and ricotta cheese, served with braised beef short ribs), and I enjoyed the Salmone Arrostito ai Carciofi (pan roasted Scottish salmon with olive oil and rosemary, served with scalloped potatoes, spinach, and roasted artichoke lemon capers sauce). We then enjoyed Tiramisu Tradizionale con Amaretti Biscotti for dolce (tiramisu for dessert). This was all heaven!
The next event at ICCC will be their first ever Italian wine seminar in four two-hour classes over the course of four weeks, led by Master Sommelier Craig Collins. Registration is open and has an early bird pricing until March 15th. We will be tasting 24 wines in a casual and comfortable classroom setting. Here are the event details from ICCC’s website:
Seminario di vini italiani: poesia in una bottiglia
Join our new cultural enrichment course, an Italian wine seminar taught by Master Sommelier Craig Collins. Seminari di vini italiani: poesia in una bottiglia, will consist of four two-hour classes starting on Tuesday, May 2, 2017 with the last class being held on May 23, 2017.
This course will introduce you to Italian wines in a detailed way, starting with wine fundamentals, followed by a focus on the Italian regions (Northern, Central and Southern).
Great taste always picks Italian. Will you?
Come learn about and taste a total of 24 Italian wines.
Each class will run from 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Classes will be taught by Master Sommelier Craig Collins
Registration fee: $295* | registration fee will be $325 after early bird promo ends
*Early bird registration ends on Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Tuesday, May 2, 2017: Wine fundamentals (Viticulture, oenology, Italian wine law and wine analysis)
Tuesday, May 9, 2017: Northern Italy (Types of grapes, geography, climate, history and top wine producers)
Tuesday, May 16, 2017: Central Italy (Types of grapes, geography, climate, history and top wine producers)
Tuesday, May 23, 2017: Southern Italy (Types of grapes, geography, climate, history and top wine producers)
Meet the Sommelier:
Master Sommelier Craig Collins first became enamored with wine while working at a winery as an undergrad, an interest that led him to study abroad in Italy during his senior year at Texas A&M. He spent the next 20 years immersed in the beverage industry, from wineries to distribution and importing to restaurants. In 2011, Collins passed the esteemed Master Sommelier Exam, a feat mastered by just 200 people worldwide at that time. He now serves as the Beverage Director for ELM Restaurant Group in Austin, Texas, overseeing the offerings at nationally acclaimed hotspots 24 Diner, Easy Tiger Bake Shop & Beer Garden, Italic and Irene’s. He sits on the Board of Directors for the Court of Master Sommeliers and frequently participates as a speaker and judge at wine and food festivals across the country.
This wine seminar is hosted by the Italian Cultural & Community Center of Houston (ICCC). This course is for people who want to learn about Italian wines in a fun and relaxed environment, to add to their interest in Italian wines and meet other aficionados.
Will you join us?