Wine Out: Taste-Testing Italian Wines

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Tim Korby is the director of The-AngelShare.com, the online site dedicated to wines at Julio's Liquors. Photo Credit: John Swinconeck

A rainy spring afternoon is a good time to eat out. It seemed that not many other people wanted to get wet so I didn’t mind occupying the table or my server Amanda for an extra bit of time while putting together this weeks “Wine Out” information.  

As I entered the Westborough Bertucci’s on Route 9, the soothing sounds of  Tony Bennett were wafting through the air, and a table by the window gave me just enough light to take my notes.  

I had decided to stay with an Italian wine at this Italian-themed restaurant to pair up with my Baked Tortellini and Chicken Gratinati, which I found out during my research was one of the restaurants top four selling dishes. I had narrowed my wine selections down to Ruffino Chianti DOCG or Santa Cristina Chianti Superiore, but went instead with the house red which is Placido Primera Sangiovese, mainly because we get so many requests for it at Julio’s Liquors after people try it here at the restaurant.

First thing to the table was the seasoned olive oil and still warm freshly baked rolls. To the parmesan, garlic, red pepper flakes and rosemary I added a bit of freshly ground black pepper and sea salt from the mills at the table and began dipping away as Amanda brought my wine. The Sangiovese was a very opaque, deep purple color with a light aroma of red plums and subtle smoke. Sipped by itself the wine was quite soft and smooth, but then with the roll, oil, cheese and spices the tannins of the wine became apparent drying it out and adding a bit of pleasant bitterness.

Since it was a cool and rainy spring day, instead of a salad I opted for a starter of Sausage Soup. My red wine liked the rice, tomatoes, spinach, mozzarella and slight saltiness of the Sausage Soup, whereas a heavier and drier wine would have just overwhelmed the soup.

The wine was disappearing fast, so I ordered the Santa Cristina Chianti to do a side-by-side comparison.  The Chianti had an even deeper and denser color and was definitely a drier wine with a distinct red clay minerality.  The Santa Cristina would have been more at home with a grilled steak than the Sausage Soup or the roll with flavored oil.

When the Tortolini arrived to the table, it was both audibly and visibly still bubbling away from the intense heat of the brick oven, which had given a slight toast to the diced tomatoes, chopped basil and sliced chicken breast that were tossed with the cream, ricotta, mozzarella and Romano cheeses.  The milder Placido Sangiovese went better with the subtly flavored Gratinati than the more aggressive Chianti.  

The corporate offices of Bertucci did a good job in selecting the Placido Primera Sangiovese because with its mild flavors and smooth texture there probably isn’t a dish on the menu that it won’t go with.  Since I was in no hurry to venture out into the cool spring rain I ordered a small plate of warm assorted olives to enjoy with the rest of my Santa Cristina Chianti.

This was wonderful way to relax leading into a very busy week. -  Salute!

Tim Korby is the director of The-AngelShare.com, the online site dedicated to wines at Julio's Liquors.

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