Tuesday, February 28, 2023

A Preview of the Basilicata, Campania and Molise Wine Regions with Italian Food, Wine & Travel

As our Italian Food, Wine & Travel group continues to climb Italy from the south, this month I’m hosting as we cover the regions of Campania, Basilicata and Molise.  All 3 regions in southern Italy have unique landscapes with the Appenines mountain range running through them while also touching the surrounding seas including the Adriatic, Ionian and Tyrrhenian Sea.  They also uniquely have a large presence of volcanic soils throughout the various terroirs. 

wine regions of southern Italy

Here is a preview of our Italian food and wine loving writers and what they’ll be sharing this monthWe will not be chatting live on Twitter this month. u enjoy reading and will check out some of these wines for yourself.  Enjoy reading and I hope you can experience some of these wines for yourself.

  • Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm shares "Aglianico and Schwarma? Let’s give it a try...."
  • Camilla of Culinary Cam features "From Campania: Pasta Named for a Patron Saint + Wine from an Ancient Tale."
  • Robin from Crushed Grape Chronicles highlights "Campania, Calzone, and Aglianico."
  • Andrea of The Quirky Cork offers "Basilicata Meets Turkey Sucuk Paired Aglianico."
  • Martin from ENOFYLZ Wine Blog presents "A Taste of Three Feudi di San Gregorio Campania White Wines."
  • Susannah of Avvinare reveals "Tintilia, A gem grown in Molise."
  • Katarina of Grapevine Adventures discusses "Giovanni Piccirillo Brings a Fresh Approach to Winemaking in Alto Casertano."
  • Gwendolyn of Wine Predator...Gwendolyn Alley is "Introducing Campania's Key Grapes: Aglianico and Falanghina."
  • And as your host of Vino Travels I'll be giving "A Glimpse into Molise with the Tombacco Biferno Rosso Riserva."

Ci vediamo! See you soon! 

Friday, February 24, 2023

A Puglian Pairing - Short Ribs with the 2020 Epicuro Aglianico

As I wrap up this month on the Puglia wine region, I’m featuring a food and wine pairing from the regionAlthough the short ribs I’m sharing are not typical Puglian cuisine, I felt like it would be a great pairing with the Aglianico that was paired.   

The Winery – Femar Vini 

I’m always intrigued by these wines at Trader Jo, but there is never enough information on the history behind the producer although I did find some on this wineThe 2020 Epicuro Aglianco wine is part of the Merge Collection under the brand Femar ViniThe grapes come from various designations and regions so I’m not sure how much consistency there is from vintage to vintage.  Per their site, the name Epicuro is dedicated to the “epicurean concept, the pleasure”.

In the 1920’s Manlio Merge began producing wine and olive oil. His son, Armando, in the 1970’s established the company around Frascati, Monte Porzio Catone and Agro Romano in the Lazio region. In 1995 Felice Merge converted the company to become what it is known today, Femar Vini.  

The Grape - Aglianico 

Aglianico is a grape that is native to the Campania and Basilicata regions of southern Italy that I’ll be covering next monthIt is a dark-skinned grape that produces wines that are full-bodied with high tannins and acidityThe Aglianico grape typically does well in warmer, dry climates and it does especially well in volcanic soilsIt’s no wonder that it calls the regions of Campania and Basilicata home with the volcanic soils of Taurasi and Taburno in Campania and Vulture in BasilicataIt’s an early ripening grape that matures late into the harvesting seasonAglianico typically produces wines that are age worthy. 

The Wine 

I was pleasantly surprised by the 2020 Epicuro Aglianico Puglia IGP wine I chose by Femar ViniBeing judgemental in the price I paid at about $6-7 a bottle and it being a selection from Trader Joe’s, I felt it would probably be a fruit bombThis was quite the valueThe wine is fermented and aged in stainless steelAlthough it’s not a complex knock your socks off wine, it makes a great everyday wineA deeper ruby color in the glass the aromas were filled with mostly blackberries, blueberries with a touch of spice and licoriceOn the palate this wine was dry and medium-bodied with moderate acidity up front with softer tannins for an AglianicoRipe, dark fruits including plums and blackberries filled the palate with a touch of spiceA touch of oak near with some decent length on the finishABV 13% 

2020 Epicuro Aglianico paired with short ribs

The Pairing 

I’ve always been a big fan of Aglianico, but really haven’t enjoyed it outside its native regions. I had put off cooking short ribs I got from our local farm, but with the winter months dwindling and wanting to try this bottle of Aglianico I felt it would be a great pairing to try. The sauce I prepared with the short ribs in my instant pot was to die for and the richness complemented nicely with the Aglianico. I used some of the wine in the sauce along with beef broth, balsamic, a touch of brown sugar and soy sauce. A little higher acidity and tannin would have been even better for such a rich meal. Easy preparation with my Instant Pot and an inexpensive bottle made for a great dinner! 

Importer: D’Aquino Italian Importing Co. 

Saturday, February 18, 2023

The Indigenous Red Grapes of Puglia

Puglia is one of the top producing wine regions in Italy in terms of productionAs we continue to build upon what we’ve covered the last couple weeks, covering most of Puglia’s wine appellations, this week we cover the red grapes of PugliaIf you’re a lover of rich, full-bodied, ripe fruit driven wines then Puglia is for you. 

The most widely planted red grapes of Puglia you may most be familiar with are Primitivo and Negroamaro, but there are also some other lesser known and rediscovered grapes like Bombino Nero, Nero di Troia and Susumaniello that you’ll find across the regionOf course, you’ll find many other red grapes to include Montepulciano, Sangiovese, Malvasia Nera and Aleatico. Let’s look at a few of them. 


Primitivo is a grape that is genetically identical to Zinfandel and is also grown in Croatia under the name Crljenak Kasteljanski. The name comes from the Latin word Primitivus, which means early ripening. The grape clusters contain thin skinned, small berries that can ripen unevenly. We talked about two areas to discover this grape last week, Primitivo di Manduria and Gioi del Colle. Primitivo di Manduria is in the Taranto province in southern Italy and the Primitivo of this area produces wines that have intense color, big, rich, high alcohol driven wines with ripe, jammy flavors. Its counterpart, Gioia del Colle, is located inland in the Bari province and creates Primitivo wines that are fresher and more elegant.

Primitivo grapes in Puglia
Sourced from the Consorzio dei Vini Gioia del Colle


Negroamaro is the other grape that competes with Primitivo for most of Puglia’s attention. It is found mostly in the Salento province and produces both red and ro wines. Negroamaro means “black bitter”, which doesn’t sound too attractive in my opinion, but these wines are far from bitter. Just the opposite! They also have an intense color that carries high acidity and firm tannins along with ripe fruits and spices. They are often blended with Malvasia Nera to help soften it. Negroamaro grapes produce good yields, do well in the heat and in fighting against fungal diseases and are resistant to droughts. 

Negroamaro grapes from Puglia
Sourced from Tenute Rubino

Bombino Nero

Bombino Nero stands for the “little black bomb” of Puglia’s lesser-known grapes, although it can be found in 1 of Puglia’s 4 DOCG appellations, Castel del Monte Bombino Nero DOCG, where it is produced exclusively as a ro. These black, thinly skinned grapes don't reach optimal ripeness, therefore the wines tend to produce wines that are fresh with high acidity and red fruit notes, different than what Puglian grapes are typically known for, fruit bombs.

Bombino Nero grapes of Puglia
Sourced by Consorzio Vini DOC Castel del Monte

Nero di Troia 

Also known as uva di troia, Nero di Troia also occupies one of Puglia's other DOCG appellations with the Castel del Monte Nero di Troia Riserva DOCG. It's named after the town of Troia from which it is grown.  This can be a difficult grape to grow and is highly susceptible to diseases with low yields.  Its purple colored, thick-skinned grapes ripen late and produce flavors of red and black fruits with spice, high alcohol and good acidity and tannins. 

Nero di Troia grapes of Puglia
Sourced by Consorzio Vini DOC Castel del Monte