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Festive Beginnings - Pairing Notes Sonoma-Cutrer Wines

Festive Beginnings - Pairing Notes Sonoma-Cutrer Wines

The Holiday season is here! And, it is my favorite part of the year! This year in particular I have much to celebrate and be thankful for - life, friends and family. I have been blessed, I have been tested and I have triumphed. And, oh! There have been so many new beginnings to toast and raise a glass. The wines and whiskeys have been flowing free and unchecked and I cannot be more thrilled. It is of course not to say that there haven't been trials but hey, a good glass of wine is well and nice for when its a good day and even better when it ain't so nice! :D

Read on for tasting and food pairing notes on a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from the Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards.

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A Classic Vinho Verde Pairing

A Classic Vinho Verde Pairing

Portugal is a relative newcomer to the wine market in the US and as such are generally priced lower than comparable wines from Europe, making them incredible value. Their wines are typically not aged as much and have a fresh, crisp and fruitier note to them. One of my favorites from the country are Vinho Verdes. Literally translated as 'young wines', and originating from the Minho province of North Portugal, they are consumed in the same season as they are bottled. They are one of least known and best crisp Summer value wines you can find this season!

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An evening of Furlana - Zonin and Circo

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What do you do on a Thursday evening? Well.. sit back and take part in a beautifully orchestrated dance sequence, of course! And, one where you are part of the show is even better. On the playbill was a mesmerizing performance by the lovely couple, Zonin and Circo; teasing, flirting and courting in a perfect display of Italian dancing.

So it was to be... An evening of Italian gastronomy paired with the delectable wines from the Fruili region.


Casa Vinicola Zonin wines is an esteemed wine family that have been producing wines for nearly 200 years. Their estates are located in seven of the finest wine-producing regions in Italy, Veneto, Friuli, Piedmont, Lombardy, Tuscany, Sicily and Puglia, and one in USA (Virginia). I was invited to an inspiring tasting dinner of Zonin wines paired with the the very Italian creations of chef Alfio Longo of Circoand regaled with splendid stroy telling by Marco Maccioni. What an evening it was!


The Zonin family is best known, in the US, for their Prosecco. The Zonin Prosecco is a uniquely crafted bubbly with the perfect balance of fruity and dry, making it extremely drinkable, perhaps, even, too much! They like to start their evenings with a glass and end with it and I shall not mention how many more are entirely unavoidable in between. That is how we began.

Over the course of the dinner, I was introduced to some of the best reds and whites I have tasted from the country! Being paired with genuine, rustic Italian dishes presented with unruffled sophistication showcased the versatility of both the cuisine and the wine.


As we were being entertained by nuggets of family stories by Marco Maccioni, Chef Longo prepared some of his signature dishes in perfect tandem to the wines being poured generously. We sat down to a place setting of five different glasses of wine and, over the tasting session, understood how each shape brought out the best in flavor of a particular wine.

Zonin wines is a family tradition and a family held company. It was an apt pairing with Circo, which, is itself a jewel in another family owned establishment, by the Maccioni family. The wines for the evening were chosed by Francesco Rabellinin who has been associated with the Zonin family for a long time and manages US operations. He carried the Zonin flag with flair; the wines were well-chosen and perfectly paired with each dish; from the subtle Maremmo with the Vitello Tonnato to the Chianti accompanying the Trippa Classica (which was my favorite dish of the evening) to the grappa sharing the spotlight with the luscious tiramisu that was the perfect end to a fabulous meal!


I came away from the evening wanting to enjoy more and much more of the Zonin wines. At the moment, they are actively distributed only through restaurant partners, such as the Maccioni restaurants, SD26 among others. For me, that isn't really a problem. It is just another excuse to dine at these restaurants and discover more under the excuse of seeking out the wine. However, I really hope that the wines become available for retail purchase soon as I genuinely believe that they are brilliant representation of what wine can be - a nectar to the gods and men alike! ;-)

Thank you Zonins, Maccionis and Alfio for a brilliant evening!


{Disclaimer: I have not in anyway been compensated for this post. I am writing this because I truly enjoyed both the wines and the food during the invitation only tasting dinner organized by Zonin wines in New York. I whole-heartedly recommend seeking out the wines and enjoying them!}

Orange and Rosemary Scones with Blackberry and Rosé Quick Jam

Orange and Rosemary scones

Weekends are, for me, days to unwind, relax and think about what I want to eat. This weekend, I felt like scones. So I baked fresh scones for breakfast, well, actually it turned out to be brunch :D.

I love scones, as much as I love many other British things. But, I can honestly say that the ones from Starbucks are not it! For the real treat, you really have to get them homemade or well, perhaps from Britain would also work, I suppose..:)

I have yet to find a quaint, mostly British place that serves good scones around here. Well, Tea and Sympathy here in NYC was fine but it seemed a tad too adapted for the west-of-the-Atlantic tastes. Besides, I am yet to visit the United Kingdom. So, until then, I guess I'll just have to keep baking them myself! :)

Scones ready to eat

Sometime back, Julia had run a series on adding savory touches to sweet dishes. One of her creations stayed in my mind, a rosemary kissed orange custard. So, when opportunity presented this time, I decided to test out the combination and make these Orange and Rosemary Scones.

I have to say that orange and rosemary make a fabulous combination! I used a ton of orange zest that kept the flavors of the scone fresh while rosemary nicely balanced it out with a grounded earthiness! As I soared on the citrus, the herb played the good gravity goddess :)

These scones go great with butter or clotted cream (of course!) and Blackberry and Rosé Quick Jam I had made before. The Rosé reduction adds a mellow note to the jam and acts as a natural preservative as well!


Orange and Rosemary Scones
(inspired by the recipe here)
{makes 8-ten 2.5 inch scones}

Orange and Rosemary scones close up

200 g flour
2 T sugar
1 tsp salt
1.5 tsp baking powder
zest of 1 orange
2 tsp fresh rosemary, finely minced
60 g cold butter, cubed
140 g buttermilk
1 yolk + 1 T cream for egg wash

Sift together the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder together. Cut into the mixture the cold butter until they are no more than the size of peas. Stir in the zest and rosemary and mix well. Add the buttermilk and mix for form a dough.

On a floured surface knead just a bit to make into a non-sticky dough ball. Pat the dough out with your palms to 1/2 inch thickness. Using a cookie cutter, cut out scones and place on a greased baking sheet. Brush egg wash over the scones.

Bake at 425F for 10-12 minutes until golden brown on top. Cool on rack. Serve warm with butter and jam.

Blackberry and Rosé Quick Jam


2 cups ripe blackberries
1/2 cup Rosé wine
2-3 T sugar
2 tsp pectin

Bring everything except the pectin to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes. Mash the blackberries into the sauce and cook until it reduces to half its volume. Add the pectin and cook until the sauce thickens. Pour into a sealable glass jar and seal while still hot.

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