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.

30 Days of Gratitude – Days 1-7

What am I grateful for? Part 1

Happy November!

I was scrolling through Pinterest trying to figure out how to make this blog stand out and what options I have for blogging. I stumbled upon some 30 Days of Gratitude posts and it hit me! Rather than blog each and every day (because do you really want to read what I’m writing that often? If you do, let me know!), I’ll do them one week at a time. And include some pictures. Aren’t you feeling lucky? But first…

Tea of the day: Mint Medley
Brand: RC Bigelow (again, another part of a variety box I bought)
Color: Pretty light. It’s practically clear.
Taste: This tea tastes exactly like what I imagined mint-infused water to taste like. It’s very nice and not overpowering. The smell was a little strong but the strength of the taste is much more calming.
Ideas for next time I have this: I really can’t think of how else I would drink this. Maybe combined with another tea. Perhaps something with lemon or strawberry.

1. What smell are you grateful for?

Really?! Right off the bat? This is such a weird question! Haha, if I’m being honest it’s probably the smell of bacon at home. WAIT! Before you start shaming me for either meat-loving or having an “easy” answer, listen… or read.

Every Christmas since I can remember my family has had a Christmas brunch. When I was younger, that meant waking up to the smell of bacon and knowing other delicious goodies were downstairs, like homemade Belgian waffles. The bacon smell is the most overpowering of everything being prepared. Then, my husband was visiting me after A School. He was my boyfriend at the time. He decided to make dinner… grilled cheese with bacon. The first thing I smelled was the bacon!

So I’m grateful for the smell of bacon at home (NOT in a restaurant) because it means that someone has spent time and love into making me a delicious meal. Bacon is not a mandatory part of these love meals, but when I walk in and smell it, I know without a doubt that someone loves me. It’s not that I LOVE bacon (I mean, I do, let’s not get crazy here). I love the thought and time someone puts into making a meal for me when it happens… and happens to include bacon.

2. What technology are you grateful for?

Again, probably another cliché. I never thought I’d be so grateful for FaceTime. Matt and I met at a point in our lives where we did not live close to one another. And we wouldn’t live close to one another for over a year! I 100% contribute our relationship’s success in the beginning stages to FaceTime. Everyday until we met in person, we would FaceTime before Matt went to bed and for hours on the weekends.

After he left for Italy, we would FaceTime so I could see where he lives, meet some of his friends, see our fur babies, and “be” together in the closest way possible to actually physically being together. Being able to see someone’s facial expressions, their laughter, and that they aren’t crafting the perfect text message back built more trust in our relationship than I ever thought it would.

For all that, I’m thankful for FaceTime. And the ability to screenshot some pretty goofy pics!

IMG_1831

3. What color are you grateful for?

This is a simple one… PURPLE! No particular rhyme or reason here. I just love the color. It’s gorgeous. The color of royalty. And I didn’t like pink like girls are “supposed to.”

4. What food are you most grateful for?

This is a HARD one! If I have to choose one, I might have to choose pizza because of the variety! There’s your classics: cheese and pepperoni. Endless toppings you can mix and match. And now, different sauces! BBQ Chicken Pizza was my FAVORITE for a long time. Lately, I’ve been really into Hot Wing Pizza. And the pizzas with salads on them aren’t bad! And dessert pizza?! Get out of town! You could probably go your entire life and have a pizza for whatever mood you’re in and never duplicate exactly what you have had before if you don’t want to. Now I want a pizza…

5. What sound are you grateful for?

The sound I’m grateful for is the sound of the front door being unlocked. These days, I spend a lot of time at home… drinking tea… no joke. I’ve had like 5 cups of tea today already. So when I hear the door unlock that means Matt is home. And unlocking the front door is LOUD haha. I can hear it from upstairs.

I’m taking a second sound for this one. The sound of a text on my phone. Again, I’m home a lot and the majority of my friends are living in a world 8 or 9 hours behind me. So around 3:00 PM is when it’s finally a normal hour that we can chat. Similar to my answer for #2, I’m so grateful for technology that I can still maintain my friendships from thousands of miles away and that little *ding* is what let’s me know I’m not completely out of touch and just a message away.

6. What in nature are you grateful for?

When it comes to nature, I’m grateful for water! It’s so beautiful. As a kid and teenager, I loved going to the beach. I’m totally looking forward to beach season next summer! And it adds so much to different landscapes whether it’s a canal, lake, shoreline, or waterfall. Even rain is beautiful.

7. What memory are you grateful for?

WARNING! I’m gonna get sappy. I’ve told a few people about the first time that Matt and I met, and to be honest, it’s a moment that could have gone totally wrong and went so right.

Matt and I met online and didn’t have an opportunity to meet for a month. He was in San Antonio, TX and I was in Gilbert, AZ. Referencing #2 again (Yay for FaceTime), we built a relationship that I was incredible. We really got to know each other because we could actually talk without the distraction of physicality. So a month later, I decided to rent a car and drive from New Orleans to San Antonio to meet him for the first time.

A lot of people thought I was crazy. What if he didn’t turn out to be who I thought he was? Yeah, I’ve seen Catfish. I know that was possible and it ran through my head constantly while we were getting to know each other to the point where we said “I love you.”

I get to San Antonio, check into the hotel down the street, then drive to the Visitor Center at Lackland Air Force Base to wait for Matt to sponsor me on base. The ten seconds between seeing him in the sideview mirror to getting out of the car was the most nerve wrecking ten seconds I’ve EVER experienced. Everything I had built up in my head and heart was about to be confirmed or come crashing down with all the disappointment possible in the entire world. I was pretty sure if things went right that I had met the person I wanted to be with the rest of my life. And if he wasn’t, I’d give up. The stakes were high people!!

Finally, I got the courage to step out of the car and smile at him. “Hi.” That’s all he said. I don’t even remember what lame greeting came out of my mouth. Then he smiled, kissed me, and hugged me… and the whole world made sense. I’ve never felt so immediately comfortable with someone and like I had known them for so much longer. I felt like we had actually spent time together and were meeting again.

That memory is what I’m most grateful for. Knowing that the most genuine person I’d ever crossed paths with was real and that he was mine.

IMG_1904
Our first picture together. March 19, 2016

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!