Favorite wineries in Italy – Ranked

Where have you had wine?

Happy Tuesday once again family and friends, and random people who may stumble their way onto this post. 😉 As I sit here in a slight bit of agony from going to the gym after weeks of Netflix binge-watching, I figured that I would tell you all about my different experiences at wineries that I’ve visited in the last few months. I’ll start by saying, the wine in Italy is superb! I feel like I’m just now being introduced to what wine really is AND I’ll probably still get a bottle of Barefoot back in the states for old nostalgia’s sake.

DON’T BE FOOLED! I will be taking more about my experiences and these wineries, not so much about the wines. I’m not a sommelier. However, I grabbed the tea that to me most resembled wine for this week’s review…

Tea of the day: Black Cherry Berry
Brand:
 Celestial Seasonings
Color: It started off a very light brown color, then when I swirled the water, a very beautiful auburn color came out of the tea bag. It’s super pretty! This is what I imagine Fall in a mug looks like.
Taste: There’s definitely cherry in there! Similar to the Country Peach Passion (read the review here!), the fruit flavor really overpowers any of the herbal flavors. I feel like I’m drinking heated Kool-Aid a bit, but with a more refined flavor. Probably the black cherry vs cherry.
Ideas for next time I have this: I really enjoy more herbal and earthy flavors when drinking tea, so I may add a lighter black tea (like Irish Breakfast) or my Matcha Lemon (review here!) tea to bring out some of those other flavors. Also, another tea to try cold when it warms up.

5. Bianchini

Bianchini has been around since 1880, as you’ll see on their label. The family was very nice and took us on a tour of their grounds where the vineyard is. The grounds are beautiful! Roses sprouted at the end of some rows of grapes and I saw the first bit of fall here. The even showed us a cellar that had hundreds and hundreds of bottles aging as part of their winemaking process.

As lovely as our hosts were, I felt their wine was mediocre compared to others on this list. We had lunch with wine tasting in a large room. The lunch was very traditional and typical of the visits. Bread, olive oil, bufala mozzarella, prosciutto, salame piccante, potato pizza, and broccolini. All of these was taken in while a somewhat creepy little puppet watched over us.

Oh, and before you think you’re going crazy… if you think you see a phallic symbol in their 1880 logo, it’s there on purpose and they told us about it. 😉

4. Pagano

This was a very small experience and had some additions that weren’t included in the other tours I’ve been on. Ever tasted wine before it was wine? And it was from the barrel! If grape juice were bottled with a refined taste for adults, this is it! There was a slight hint of the alcohol starting to come out but was mostly sweet. How about trying wine straight out of one of those big steel silos? Not as good as from the barrel. :-/ The aftertaste will surely get you because it’s probably the same as if you liked the silo.

They have a smaller production at Pagano than Bianchini and other wineries, but their pride and personality makes up for it in a big way. My husband was the only male in our group of women, and the old man at Pagano who made our lunch LOVED him. I was glad Matt had a good time and was able to share the experience with me.

Our lunch included the same items as mentioned above and some pasta that went perfectly with all the different wines we tried. Our hosts were very sweet and made a run to the store to get an ice cream cake for a birthday we were celebrating that day. Photo creds to Laura and Eboni for these.

3. Porto di Mola

This is the first winery I went to in the region where we live. This is the most complete experience of how wine is made that I’ve been through. For fun, there was an opportunity to stomp the grapes with your feet. Rest assured, that is not a part of the process! It’s more for show. We did get to throws grapes into machines that removed the stems from the grapes picked and even went into the vineyards and clipped grapes from the vine since it was harvesting time.

Again, a typical lunch with pasta included, no broccolini. For some reason, this one is much yummier from than others for some reason in my memory. Probably because I drank a LOT of wine that day. And I ate quite a bit of bread with their in house extra virgin olive oil.

I’m more of a red wine lady and one of there reds did not disappoint. Peppi was my favorite, so bottle had to be purchased. Also, I’m not much for whites, but this was the first time I had Falanghina and you’ll find the empty bottle in my house.

2. Volpara

Ever wanted a good walk before wine tasting? Then this is the winery tour for you! Our host is very knowledgable of the area where his winery is, so he took us on a walking tour that included their vineyard, very old church of their town, the first water source for the town, and other areas of Sessa Aurunca. It was a beautiful, sunny day that was perfect for that kind of walk.

The setting for our lunch was in the wineries cellar. We sat amongst very large wine barrels. The tables were wine barrels. And there were wine bottles lined in wall cutouts as the aged, like at Bianchini. The bufala mozzarella here was smaller than other places, so I ate twice as many.

This winery had the most wines I liked (except for #1) INCLUDING a rosé. I think this was the first rosé I’ve liked ever. Normally, it’s too sweet or too light. This one was a little heavier, therefore palatable. My favorite red is Sassi, which definitely described our group if you’re going by the English definition of how this word is pronounced. Their whites also went down easily, so I had seconds. Who I am kidding? I had seconds of all their wines, even the rosé.

1. Tenuta Torciano

Maybe it’s because this is winery is in the Tuscan region, but… oh, my, goodness! This is the first winery in Italy I went to and it set the bar very high! The only thing that would have made it better is we had a tour of their production facility, but that is off-site because this family owned and operated winery is humungous!

We visited Tenuta Torciano as part of a wine tasting tour when Matt and I visited Florence. It was our first stop and was offered as a wine tasting school for the participants to start the day off. We learned the perfect dimensions of a glass for tasting/drinking wine, how to swirl and smell the wine, and how to hold the glass a certain way. We tried 7-8 wines there, and my favorite of all time was introduced to me. Brunello di Montelcino. Just… wow! The Chianti Classico they create is quite fantastic also.

We did not have a lunch at this location, but we did eat some saltines paired with the best olive oils and balsamic vinegar ever. The pulled out their classic extra virgin olive oil, a peperoncini oil, and truffle oil. Definitely got a bottle of the truffle oil! The balsamic we tried is 30 years aged, thick, and so sweet.

The whole show was incredible. The host was perfect and very personable. He had everyone engaged and certainly entertained. Highly recommend going on this tour if you ever find yourself in the Florence.

 

As I visit more wineries, I’ll post more about my favorites. Look forward to a restaurant ranking as I go to more restaurants.

If you have any questions about my experience living abroad, leave a comment or send an email!

*SOME LINKS ARE AMAZON AFFILIATES LINKS AND I MIGHT MAKE A LITTLE BIT IF YOU PURCHASE SOMETHING.

Top 5 Technology Things I’m Getting Used To

How’s living in Italy?

Welcome to a special Thursday edition of Tuesday Tea. There will not be a tea review for this post because I’m trapped on the couch surrounded by the cold and if I leave this spot I might die of frostbite. I’m also experiencing some mild Feline Paralysis.

While living in Italy isn’t entirely different than living in the US when it comes to technology, there are certain adjustments that I have had to make in getting used to how things are here. I’m not talking about a lack of WiFi or kerosene lamps or anything like that, but everything on this list is technically technology. So here goes!!

1. 220v outlets

If you didn’t know, the majority of appliances in the US can be plugged in to 110v outlets. In Italy, all of the outlets in our home are 220v. Luckily, the Navy offers appliances that are this voltage so we don’t have to get too crafty. Also, being in Italy, those appliances are available anyway.

One of the best decisions I’ve made is getting a hair dryer that is 220v instead of the risk of sacrificing my beloved hair dryer.

But it’s not always THAT easy. Some plugs have two prongs and others have three, just like in the US. And some two-pronged plugs only fit in certain outlets so we STILL need to use an adapter to plug it in. Or we need to convert a two-pronged plug to fit a three-pronged outlet, like below.

2. Transformers to Convert Electricity

As Americans, we are used to certain items in our homes and have already acquired them. Most of these are small kitchen appliances and gaming consoles.

Who really wants to purchase everything again though? That’s a lot of money!

Bring in the transformer! This delightful piece of technology converts electricity so my 110v Kuerig doesn’t die a painful death when it’s plugged into a 220v outlet.

These puppies weigh about 20 lbs and have two plugs. You can buy them in a variety of voltages to plug in more/larger appliances. There is a small fuse that can blow if it’s overloaded but they are relatively inexpensive to replace.

The one in the picture is our “kitchen transformer.” Imagine only being able to have two things plugged in at a time. Let’s just say I spend a lot more time cooking on the stove or in the crockpot now, and plan cooking more since everything can’t be plugged in at once.

Our “living room transformer” can handle a higher voltage and it’s quite the elaborate set up that includes a power strip. So yeah… welcome to Italy!

The best part is doing what I like to call the Fuse Box Dance. That’s when the transformer gets plugged in, trips the fuse in the house so you get up to flip it on, the fuse in the transformer gets tripped so then you reset the box which causes he house fuse to trip… and back and forth and back and forth. I think the record for the Fuse Box Dance is somewhere in the 20s.

3. Doing Laundry… in different rooms

Most Italians opt to hang their laundry outside or on drying racks rather than purchasing a dryer like we have in the US. However, this is another appliance we can opt in for from the Navy to make life a little more convenient. Or is it?

In our first home, the washer and dryer were in the same room but only one could be plugged in at a time because there was only one outlet.

Where we are now, we have the washer in the bathroom, which I believe is fairly appropriate…

And the dryer is in the…. wait for it… kitchen. Because there is minimal counter space, it also plays home to the microwave.

The positive side of having the dryer in the kitchen is it warms that room quite a bit when it’s running, which leads me to my next point.

4. Radiators and heating

Italian homes are heated by radiators, and it takes forever! We choose to not use them because they use a lot of gas to heat the water the runs through the pipes to heat a room.

A quick google search taught me that radiators increase the room temperature one degree per 45 minutes. Well, when it’s 40-something degrees Fahrenheit, that’s a looooong time and you really start to miss central heating and timed thermostats.

My new best friend, and I think Maya’s and Ariel’s too, is this little space heater that I’ve been literally dragging around from room to room with me when blankets just aren’t cutting it.

5. Gas Oven

Baking here can require a tad bit more effort and time than back in the states.

For one, the oven is gas so it can take longer to heat up to the desired cooking or baking temperature.

Secondly, our oven doesn’t have any indicator that it has reached said desired cooking or baking temperature, so we usually just wait 20-30 minutes and hope for the best.

Thirdly, make sure it’s actually lit. The last thing you want is for the gas to be going without the flame so you have a stinky kitchen, fire hazard, and a cold oven on your hands.

I will say, this oven is about twice the size of the one in our first home here and was large enough to comfortably fit a 25 lb. turkey.

Overall, it’s really not that bad. Just takes some getting used to. It is nice to have a lot of the conveniences of home with the transformers and it’s not like we have dirty clothes all the time. It certainly is putting things into perspective when it comes to how homes are built back in America.

What are some other questions you have about the differences of living in Italy?

30 Days of Gratitude – Days 29-30

What am I grateful for? Part 5

Less than a month until 2018 and the ideas are already rolling around in my head of what the new year will bring. I’m going to finish out my days of gratitude here, and then stay tuned for a special edition of #ThursdayTeaBlog in a couple days.

THURSDAY! Top 5 Things I’m getting used to living in Italy!

Tea of the day: Peppermint Bark
Brand:
 RC Bigelow
Color: This holiday flavored tea has a typical brown color.
Taste: I took a sip of the tea and then had to check the ingredients because something unexpected was in there. The peppermint flavor is very present and so is the… licorice! Not a whole lot of the cocoa flavor came through in my opinion. I ended up adding my Peppermint Mocha Creamer to get more of a chocolaty flavor going.
Ideas for next time I have this: I’ll continue to drink this with the creamer. I’m not a huge fan of licorice flavor and it masks that while enhancing the chocolate taste.

29. What friend/family member are you grateful for today?

I’m grateful for my dad. We’ve come a long way the last few years, as I think many father/daughter relationships might. He’s always been there to support me and to push me, even when the last thing I wanted was to be pushed. I don’t think I’d be nearly half the woman I am today without him. He gave me a great example of what being a good husband (and sometimes a bad husband if I’m being honest) looks like so I could go find the person that makes me complete. When I think of having my own children some day, I can definitely see using some of his parenting strategies.

 

I love you Dad!

285-jeffrey-stewart-4932.jpg

30. What talent or skill do you have that you are grateful for?

I’m grateful for my skill to be organized when I need to be, haha. I’m not always the most organized, and when the time calls for it, I can make organization happen! I think that’s the only way I was able to get through the entire wedding planning process. I make sure to write down details and ask lots of questions so I understand what to expect.

Recently, I’ve started a bullet journal. I’m using this to track ideas for blogs, an idea for a YouTube channel I have, and what episode I’m on for TV shows I watch.

I still use a traditional planner for long term planning and can probably fill out 2018 quite a bit right now. I can organize and plan THAT far ahead.

November is now over.

I’m still grateful for so many things that I didn’t include in the last few posts. Just because November is over doesn’t mean that gratitude goes away. Be grateful everyday. 🙂

If you’d like to do your own 30 days of gratitude, here’s where I found the prompts I’m using. And catch up! You’re late!

What are you grateful for? Leave me a comment!

*SOME LINKS ARE AMAZON AFFILIATES LINKS AND I MIGHT MAKE A LITTLE BIT IF YOU PURCHASE SOMETHING.

30 Days of Gratitude – Days 8-14

What am I grateful for? Part 2

And just like that, the first week of the 11th month has passed and we are that much closer to 2018. A lot of time this week was spent talking about Thanksgiving plans and preparations. Definitely looking forward to that… and continuing to think about everything I’m grateful for. This week, I’m going to focus on what I’m thankful for regarding the prompts and what married life has brought me.

Also, please forgive any weird formatting. I’m writing this on my phone because I blew the fuses in our transformers and haven’t been able to charge my laptop. 😦 And the tea…

Tea of the day: Matcha Lemon

Brand: Yogi Tea. I’ve included a link below to a variety pack offered by Amazon also.

Color: GREEN! This is the greenest tea I’ve made myself. It’s not totally green, but more like a yellow-green.

Taste: It’s definitely has an herbal flavor and the lemon is totally there without being overpowering. It’s a great sipping tea, but probably not something I’d choose to drink everyday except for health reasons.

Ideas for next time I have this: I did add some honey for my second cup which add a pleasant sweetness, about a teaspoon to not overtake the lemon and natural herbal flavor. That’s probably how I’ll continue drinking it, and I’m open to suggestions!

Day 8 – What book are grateful for?

So, I haven’t actually read a book since I got to Italy but I do have a series that I’m very grateful for. If you know me in real life, you probably know what I’m about to write.

Harry Potter

I was two years behind in getting started with reading these books. It was 5th grade when I finally decided to pick one up and it was the first book that I didn’t mind continuing to turn the pages. I was quickly infatuated and intrigued! That same year, I had gotten in trouble because I had flat out not done a book report because I really wasn’t much of a reader. Those books probably saved me from a difficult time in English class for the years to come because I didn’t mind reading after that. To this day, it practically impossible to go into a bookstore and not find at least one thing that I want to pick up.

I have favorite authors (Meg Cabot and Nicholas Sparks to name two) so I keep up with them. And I’ll read just about any romantic young adult novel out there, haha.

Day 9 – What place are you grateful for?

In Italy, I’m grateful for pretty much this whole entire place. It’s absolutely incredible! One advantage of being affiliated with the military is being able to still have access to some of the pleasantries of home through the commissary and NEX.

The commissary has really been a blessing because we are having our second Thanksgiving in Italy with all the proper American side dishes. Who would have thought we’d be able to get a turkey in Italy!? Well, if not for the commissary, I don’t believe we would have.

And also, peanut butter. Peanut Butter isn’t really a thing here in Italy. They love Nutella, and their Nutella is better! But this girl needs peanut butter in her life and the commissary is the place to get it.

Day 10 – What taste are you grateful for?

Wine!! And Italy does it well. 😉

I’ve had the opportunity to visit a few wineries so far (and two more later this week!) and I’ve had some great vino.

My favorite, by far, is Tenuto Torciano. This winery was part of a wine tour we went on and it included a “wine tasting school.” The experience and staff was superb, and the wine is glorious. And don’t forget the truffle oil! A-MAZ-ING!

Day 11 – What holiday are you grateful for?

Before last year, I probably would have said Christmas. Who doesn’t enjoy waking up to Belgian Waffles and presents? And later on, Bloody Marys and mimosas? 😉

Now, I have to say Thanksgiving, and there’s a few reasons. Growing up, I liked your normal sides. Mashed Potatoes. Stuffing. Rolls. And that’s it.

A few years ago, Mom added sweet potatoes to her repertoire and oh… my… god! So amazing!

Also, Matt’s favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, and it’s not just that. He proposed to me on Thanksgiving 2016. That’s pretty special! And it’s the first REAL holiday we got to spend together. So yeah, it’s kind of our thing.

Day 12 – What texture are you grateful for?

WARNING! I may sound like a crazy cat lady in a moment. I have Ariel in my lap right now.

The texture I’m grateful for is Maya’s and Ariel’s fur. It’s so soft. And obviously if I can feel it that means they are close to me. It makes me so happy to feel something weighing down the blanket on the couch or comforter on the bed and then to reach out to feel them. I can’t read a cat’s mind, but I’m taking them being so close as their way of saying, “I love you. I am comfortable around you. You make a good pillow.”

Day 13 – What abilities are you grateful for?

This is another hard one. I’m going to go with the ability to cook. Especially now.

In Italy, we don’t have many fast food places and there’s pretty much no delivery. So you have to drive to get food and wait for it if you want to take it to go. And the concept of being too lazy to get food AND too lazy to make food doesn’t exist. You’re forced to do one or the other.

Between having a set of pots and pans, a crockpot, and this ability, we’ve had some really delicious dinners. And being married, there’s something really nice to having dinner with just my husband that we or one of us made.

Day 14 – What sight are you grateful for?

Recently, the sun. It’s been raining the better part of the week here, so when the sun is out, it’s a sight for sore eyes. Not literally, but you know what I mean.

Aside from that, I really love being able to wake up with the sight of my husband next to me each morning. We did long distance for so long, and it’s a welcome change. And I know how fortunate I am that his job in the Navy allows him to come home each night (well, morning right now) so this is possible.

If you’d like to do your own 30 days of gratitude, here’s where I found the prompts I’m using. And catch up! You’re late!What are you grateful for? Leave me a comment!