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Wine Wednesday: Buitoni and Italian Wines

It’s Wine Wednesday! For the past month (and for a few more weeks) Buitoni USA is hosting a weekly sweepstakes to give away a gift card. What’s not to love about that? Simply sign up on the Buitoni Facebook page for your chance to win.

In honor of that, I thought I’d give out a little Italian grape variety run-down, as Italian wines are perfect pairings for the myriad of foods that Buitoni offers.

Pinot Grigio (white) – who doesn’t know this grape?!?! Pinot Grigio (known as Pinot Gris in many other areas of the world) produces a light and crisp wine for the most part, though some versions can have a bit more weight and showcase more ripe fruit. Most show bright citrus notes, with crisp acidity and a refreshing finish. Delicious with pasta or poultry and a lemon-based sauce.

Falanghina (white) – A grape hailing from the southern parts of Italy, Falanghina makes a richer white, with aromas and flavors like flowers and tropical fruit. It’s a lovely match to a creamy white sauce.

Arneis (white) – From the Piedmont region of Italy, Arneis has almost a “nutty” characteristic that sets it apart. It has elegant aromas of citrus and white flowers, as well as a crisp backbone that makes it excellent with food. A great match for pasta with olive oil-based sauces.

Sangiovese (red) – The most well-known Italian grape, Sangiovese is the backbone for the classic Tuscan wines of Italy, like Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montalpulciano. It is classically food-friendly, with bright red fruit and excellent acidity. Pair it with anything that contains a tomato-based sauce.

Barbera (red) – Hailing from the Piedmont region of Italy, Barbera is a delightful, ligth-bodied, food-friendly grape. With ripe berry fruit, a touch of spice and great acidic structure, it’s one of my favorites to pair with pizza, though it’s also excellent with red sauces and white meats.

Nebbiolo (red) – The burly, tannic grape of Piedmont, Nebbiolo is used to make Barolo and Barbaresco, two of Italy’s most age-worthy wines. Known for the two aromas of “tar and roses,” Nebbiolo produces wines that can be bold and tannic, but with great ripe fruits, floral notes and an excellent backbone. Good with red meat or hearty sauces and stews.

Aglianico (red) – Often called the “Barolo of the South,” Aglianico is a bit more plush and velvety than it’s Nebbiolo counterpart. It has lots of spice, herbal notes and berry flavors, as well as a touch of licorice on some occasions. It’s quite good with local Italian cheeses or Italian pasta dishes.

Italy is such a wonderfully diverse region with a variety of wines that are terribly food-friendly! After all, Italy is a region that considers wine as food and rarely is a meal served without it. So grab a bottle of one of the wines listed above and enjoy it with some great Italian food! Cheers!

Washington Wines in the spotlight

We LOVE data at Because we track all of our orders and sales, we have great numbers to show what’s trending in wine. Each year, we take a look at the top growth varietals, wineries and regions. This year, there was a theme: Washington State. Both our Winery of the Year (Chateau Ste. Michelle) and our Wine Region of the Year show that Washington wines are on fire. It’s about time, right? Like many regions, the state produces a range of wines, from cellar collectibles to everyday values. Here are some great fun facts about the great state of Washington!

– The majority of vines in Washignton State are grown on their own rootstock, not grafted like most wine regions. This is because the state’s dessert-like conditions have kept the region phylloxera-free.

– The primary grapes grown in Washington are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Riesling. Between white and red varieties, it’s split pretty much 50/50.

– There are currently 12 AVAs in Washington, though more are always petitioning to be added.

– Washington is the 2nd largest producer of wine in the US (after California) and has over 740 wineries in production and producing 12 million cases of wine.

One of my favorite things about Washington is that I think the wines of the state truly show a sense of place. And THAT is what makes wine unique and special.

It seems we’re not the only one thinking #wawine is on fire. Seems there will be a Twitter tasting this Friday, January 13th, featuring the wines of Washington. What do you have to do to participate? Simple. Open up and drink some great Washington Wine. According to Cliff Brown (@cliffordbrown3), the organizer of the tasting, people starting drinking about 6pm Central Time, and gets into full swing around 6pm PST. So join in by stocking up on some great Washington wine and use the hashtag, #WoWDay to follow along and share what you’re tasting.


Italian Wine & Food

One of the best pieces of advice I give to those looking for a perfect food and wine match? Pair region with region. Nature knows what it’s doing in that regard. One of countries most prone to this perfect match is Italy. Italian wine is diverse, delicious and terribly food friendly – not only with its own regional dishes, but also with a myriad of foods.

Two reasons to mention this:
First, we are featuring one of our favorite gifts today, Viva Italia, a collection of 6 of the most popular wines from 6 of the most popular regions in Italy, at a lovely discount.
Second, we are excited to be a part of a weekly sweepstakes with Buitoni USA, a delicious Italian-based food company that makes pasta, sauces and frozen foods. Check out their facebook page to enter to win a $25 gift certificate. The sweepstakes runs every week for the next few months so you’ve got a great chance of winning!

Check out our food & wine pairing suggestions, enter the Buitoni sweepstakes, and grab the Viva Italia gift for your friends and family!


Bottle sizes and wine names

The other day, to celebrate the office move and 13th holiday season, we all opened up a Methuselah of Champagne. A what? A Methuselah. That would be six literes (there are about 40 of us after all). Of course as we watched our founder open it, hoist it and try to “gently” pour it into our glasses, everyone wanted to know, what do you call this bottle? Though I know all the names, I’d already fogotten which size goes with which name. I’ve posted on bottle sizes before, but to re-cap for the holidays, in case you need something extra bit to impress…

A few numbers: A standard bottle holds 750mL and is the most common bottle size you will see.
A magnum holds 1.5 liters or 2 bottles

After the magnum, the names of bottle sizes come from the names of kings noted in the Old Testament.

Bottle – 3 liters/4 bottles in Champagne & Burgundy (as well as most New World). In Bordeaux this size is called a Double Magnum.
King – After the death of Solomon, Jeroboam led a revolt against Rehoboam and became King of a newly independent kingdom of Israel.


Bottle – 4.5 liters/6 bottles (in Bordeaux this size is called a Jeroboam, just to confuse you).
King – King of Judea after the death of his father, Solomon.

Bottle – 6 liters/8 bottles (in Bordeaux this size is called Imperiale).
King – Here is an exception, as Methuselah is not a king, but rather the oldest man cited in the Bible at 969 years old.

Bottle – 9 liters/12 bottles
King – King of Assyria, also known as Shalmaneser. Mentioned in 2 Kings, Chapter 17.

Bottle – 12 liters/16 bottles
King – In the Book of Daniel, King Belshazzar (or Balthazar) was the last king of Babylon.

Bottle – 15 liters/20 bottles
King – King of Babylon (before Balthazar) who conquered and exiled many Jews. Also built the “Hanging Gardens of Babylon).  Seen here in painting by William Blake.

There are larger bottles said to be out there – Melchior for 24 bottles and Sovereign for 34 bottles. These are rare.

The largest wine bottle made so far was commissioned by Morton’s Steakhouse in 2004. At 4.5 feet tall, the bottle held 130 liters (173 bottles, 1200 glasses) of wine. The wine itself was Beringer Vineyards 2001 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve.

What’s the biggest bottle you’ve drunk?