A few weeks ago, Whitney and I went to Mario Batali’s restaurant Otto for a wine tasting. Otto offers three different types of wine tastings: Discover Italy ($45), Regional ($45) and Ultimate ($75). The Discover Italy class includes the basics of how to make wine, an introduction to Italian wines and producers, as well as a tasting of several Italian wines. The Regional class will focus on wines of a particular region- I suppose that’s pretty self-explanatory. The Ultimate class showcases Italy’s most famous wines. Otto stresses that these classes are for anyone, so don’t be shy! Whether you’re a first-timer or a passionate aficionado, there is always something to learn.
Whitney and I happened to fall under that category of first-timers, but our sommelier, Paul Tortora, was extremely helpful in giving us a basic understanding of wines. Paul is an investment banker turned sommelier and is passionate about the wine industry. Ah! There is life after investment banking after all! During our class, his main goal was to teach us that while commercial wines are….fine, it is important to appreciate those wines that say something about where they come from.
I would like to personally thank Whitney for her notes that she took during the class (though her hand writing started to waver after the 5 glasses of wine we were treated to…)
And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…the wine!
1) Bastianich Fruilano 2009- White Fruilano- this wine is from the NE of Italy. It was very dry and crisp and had lemony-citrus undertones. The wine was less jammy than other white wines we’ve tried.
2) Cave du vin Blanc de Morgex et de la Salle Vini Estremi – Prie Blanc – this wine is AMAZING. Whitney and I agree that we want to buy a huge case of this no matter the price because it was just delicious. This Prie Blanc was from the NW of Italy. When Paul poured it into our glasses, it was slightly frothy. It’s light color reflects its very light taste. It was clean, crisp and refreshing. This wine also had some citrusy undertones but was not as bitter as our first wine.
3) Triacca Sassella 2005 – Nebiollo or Chiavennasca- this was our first red wine of the tasting. It was also probably my least favorite–but don’t forget that this is all very subjective. The Nebiollo was an acidic and bitter red wine. Paul described it as being more “austere” and elegant.
4) Il Pogionne Rosso di Montalcino 2006 – Sangiovese –this red wine from Tuscany is similar to a Chianti. Different from our first red wine, this one was a little more fruity with a hint of red cherry. A pretty decent bottle of red wine.
5) Calabretta Etna Rosso 1999 – Nerello Mascalese – Usually I prefer white wines but this red has made me a convert! From Sicily, this fruity red had hints of cherry and plum flavors. Because it is a vintage wine, its age actually makes it sweeter! YUM. This was definitely a perfect mix of fruitiness and acidity. This was both of our favorite red wine from the tasting.
Aside from learning about the wines themselves, we also learned about swirling. Paul was VERY good at swirling. I think if I tried to do that I would probably spill my drink. To swirl like a true sommelier, hold your glass at the stem and swirl in a circular motion. This releases the wine’s aroma, lets the flavors bloom, and it makes you look cool! We also learned how to taste wine. We are used to (as are most of you) drinking wine, chugging wine, but not truly appreciating it for it’s taste. So, if you’d like to taste your wine like an aficionado, take a sip and hold it in your mouth for a few seconds and swallow. This way, you can taste all of the delicious undertones that the wine can offer.
Overall, our wine tasting was a very positive experience. The hot picks of the day? For white wine: the Prie Blanc; and for red wine: the Nerello Mascalese. The wine tasting definitely spoiled me and I will never again appreciate those $7 dollar bottles that we always buy! I hope you all can get a chance to go to Otto and take a wine tasting course, it was fun and informative. The restaurant also has amazing pizza! Perhaps a wine tasting then some drunken pizza munchies?
From both of us at Nosh and Tell, remember to drink responsibly!
For more info about Otto’s wine events click here