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September 17, 2008 - Wine Stains

A Featured Wine Stains Article

I Love Italian Wine and Food - The Lombardy Region

If you are looking for fine Italian wine and food, consider the Lombardy region of northern Italy. You may find a bargain, and I hope that you'll have fun on this fact-filled wine education tour.

Mountainous Lombardy is located in the north central zone of Italy on the Swiss border. It is one of the few regions of Italy without a seacoast. On the other hand Lombardy is known for its beautiful lakes. Lombardy owes its name to the Lombards, a Germanic people who ruled it and neighboring regions for two hundred years well over a thousand years ago. Other rulers included the Celts, the Romans, and the Franks. Its population is 9.4 million, the largest in Italy. In fact, about one of six Italian residents lives in Lombardy.

Lombardy is second to Emilia-Romagna in agricultural production. Among its many agricultural products are rice, wheat, corn, fruits, olives, cattle, pigs, and sheep. Natives still eat more risotto (a rice dish) and polenta (corn bread) than pasta.

The capital of Lombardy's is Milan, Italy's financial, fashion, and media center. With a population of 1.3 million, Milan is larger than seven regions of Italy.

Lombardy devotes about 66 thousand acres to grapevines, it ranks 11th among the 20 Italian regions. Its total annual wine production is about 44 million gallons, also giving it an 11th place. About 62% of the wine production is red or ros?, leaving 38% for white. The region produces 15 DOC wines and 3 DOCG wines, Franciacorta, a sparkling wine made in the traditional (Champagne) manner, and 2 red wines; Valtellina Superiore, reviewed below, and Sforzato di Valtellina. DOC stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata, which may be translated as Denomination of Controlled Origin. The G in DOCG stands for Garantita, but there is in fact no guarantee that such wines are truly superior. Over 47% of Lombardy's wine carries the DOC or the DOCG designation. Lombardy is home to about four dozen major and secondary grape varieties, approximately three fifths red and two fifths white.

Widely grown international white grape varieties include Pinot Bianco, known as Pinot Blanc outside of Italy, Chardonnay, Trebbiano, and Malvasia. The best known Italian white varieties are Gargena, an Italian variety of Riesling, Renano Italico, and an Italian variety of Trebbiano, Trebbiano di Lugana.

Widely grown international red grape varieties include Pinot Noir. The best known strictly Italian red varieties are Barbera, Bonarda, Lambrusco, and a local Nebbiolo called Chiavennasca.

Before we reviewing the Lombardy wine and cheese that we were lucky enough to purchase at a local wine store and a local Italian food store, here are a few suggestions of what to eat with indigenous wines when touring this beautiful region.
Start with Pizzoccheri della Valtellina, Buckwheat Flour Ribbons with Wilted Cabbage, Potatoes, and Mountain Cheese.
For a second course try Ossobuco all Milanese, Braised Veal Shanks with Grenolata (Parsley, Garlic, and Lemon).
And for dessert, indulge in Budino di Pannetone, Pannetone Bread Pudding

OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY While we have communicated with well over a thousand Italian wine producers and merchants to help prepare these articles, our policy is clear. All wines that we taste and review are purchased at the full retail price.

Wine Reviewed
Triaccio 'Sassela' Valtellina Superiore 2002 13% alcohol about $16.50 DOCG

In his work Codice Atlantico, Leonardo da Vinci described Valtellina, the source of this wine as "A valley surrounded by tall and terrible mountains, it makes really powerful wines." This area has made wine since the days of the Etruscans and the Ligurians, prior to the ancient Romans. It is the northernmost area for growing the Nebbiolo grape. The wine itself is one of the three DOCG wines in Lombardy.

The marketing materials stated that its nose is quite outspoken, with aromas including mushroom, dried cranberry, and paraffin. It is dry with good fruit, surrounded by supple tannins. This medium-bodied wine is recommended with hard cheeses or grilled game birds.

This wine was aged 18 months in large wooden casks and a further 6 months in steel tanks. The producer says it can be cellared for 8-10 years and suggests drinking it with pasta of all sorts, air-dried beef, and cheese.

I first tasted this wine with beef ribs. It was round but a bit intimidated by the spicy cumin and curry sauce. Paired with a slow cooked beef and potato stew it handled itself better. It was quite fruity and cut the meal's grease. It almost tasted like a Beaujolais.

I tried it with two cheeses. Grana Padano is a classic Parmesan-type cheese made for a millennium in northern Italy including the Lombardy region. It is a cylindrical, cooked, semi-fat cheese which matures slowly. It has a grainy consistency and may be sliced or grated. The cheese's taste is fragrant and delicate. The wine brought out the nutty aspect of the cheese, while intensifying its fruit. It paired well with Pecorino Toscana from Tuscany, two regions south of Lombardy.

Final verdict. I was a bit disappointed with this wine, DOCG is supposed to mean top of the line, and it was not.

About the Author

Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but to be honest, he would rather just drink fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. His wine website is www.theworldwidewine.com . You can reach him at ital@mail.theworldwidewine.com.

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I Love Italian Wine and Food - The Lombardy Region

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September 2008 - Wine Sauce

Wine Sauce For Your Reading Pleasure

Wine Is Good For You!

In the 1990?s a news report, later titled the ?French Paradox?, was brought to the public eye after researchers discovered that the French who live on a diet of cheese, butter, organ meats, eggs and other cholesterol laden food had a lower rate of heart attack than in America. The results as to why this was so were very surprising to many: moderate and steady consumption of wine. How is wine good for your health?

Many believe red wine is better for you than white wine, because that is what early studies found. Skin from red grapes contained a powerful antioxidant called resveratrol, which was transferred into red wine during manufacturing. However, nowadays manufacturers are altering their winemaking processes for both red and white wine to boost health benefits.

Some of the more recent studies conducted from around the world have shown that wine can be a very powerful agent in helping prevent heart and lung problems and even strokes! In 2002 the American Thoracic Society found that the antioxidants from white wine helped improve lung function while in the same year the William Harvey Research Institute found that polyphenols in red grape skins helped keep arteries open and lowered the risk of strokes. University of California at Davis discovered in 1995 that coronary heart disease was reduced and research conducted in 2004 at the University of Ferrara in Italy showed that the elderly who consumed moderate amounts of wine had healthier blood vessels than those who didn?t.

Aside from these benefits there are many others specific to men or women. For men, in 2004, the Worcester Medical Center in Massachusetts found that wine helped lower the risk of a heart attack for men with high blood pressure. The Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Australia in 2004 found that women who consumed wine had a lower risk of ovarian cancer and the Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology Unit, St. Thomas? Hospital in London discovered wine helped with stronger bones.

The key however is moderation. What is ?moderation?? Studies have said that ?moderation? is considered to be one or two glasses a day. Drinking more than this can be bad for your health and cause more diseases than prevent them. Wine does have a rather high calorie content which can put on the pounds if not consumed in moderation. But aside from just weight gain you risk far more serious health problems such as kidney and liver disease with over consumption.

So wine drinkers raise your glasses for a toast to the benefits of a glass a day!

About the Author:

Ken Finnigan is the CEO of Finest Wine Racks a website specializing in quality decorative wine racks and durable wine storage systems.

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