Blog posts, Cheese, Day Drinking, holiday, Holiday Wines, Italian Food, thirsty thursday, What's In My Glass, wine, Wine and Food Pairing

#WineWednesday with Mandy Connell: Italian Wines for your Holiday Table

During this month’s segment with Mandy Connell, you can find her show on 850 KOA here, we will begin to shift our focus onto those wines for your consideration for your holiday tables. I can’t believe the year has flown by so quickly and that next week I will have a 16 year old!

We decided to move our tasting segment this month to Wednesday so that we can get fellow foodie and wine enthusiast, Alfred “Big Al” Williams from The KOA Sports Zoo tasting and discussing something much better than the recent football the Broncos have been playing on the field.☺

We are going to take our food inspirations from both Italy and the upcoming Halloween holiday…rice infused with Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, squid ink pasta with pecorino, black truffle salami from Denver producer, Porcellino, truffle and mushroom paté, lemon stuffed olive oils, and olive oil and balsamic with bread dipper seasoning round out our food choices. There has to be something in there everyone will enjoy!

Our wines will begin with my favorite Thanksgiving table white wine, Gewürztraminer. This one is from Carboy out of the Grand Valley AVA on the western slope…and I know you may be asking, Colorado? That’s not Italy but the varietal, despite the German sounding name, is thought to hail from around Tramin in the Alto Adige region of northern Italy. North of both Venice and Milan, Alto Adige is nestled up against the Alps and much like the French region of Alsace, where Gewürzt is famously produced, has probably swapped back and forth between German speaking and Italian speaking peoples for much of its history. Alto Adige is more known for Moscato and Gewürzt (which means spice) is a challenge to grow here. “Traminer” means of Tramin, so perhaps we have the Roman Empire to thank for introducing this grape to the regions where it grows best.

The varietal itself has a wonderful lychee note both on the nose and pallet and is what clues you into what you are tasting when blind tasting. Wine Folly offers this note as a sweet rose aroma if you have never smelled lychee. Rose is also a common note, as is grapefruit and ginger, which is why it is such a wonderful wine to pair with ham, turkey, or duck. We will be pairing this version from Carboy with caramelized onion risotto (made in my Instapot!)

We’ll next taste a Verdicchio di Matelica from Abruzzo. Another brightly acidic wine, making it a great choice for your carb heavy Thanksgiving table, this wine has supple body and refreshes the palate with notes of green apple, jasmine, and juniper (often similar notes used in turkey brines.) We’ll pair this wine with lemon stuffed olives and our truffle crisps.

Our final white wine will be another gem from Abruzzo (Abruzzo makes such lovely wines at really great price points, making them perfect for your holiday gatherings) and 100% Trebbiano (known as Ugni Blanc in France.) This medium to high acidity wine brings peaches, apples, lemons, and fresh herbs to the palate. It is going to balance out the earthiness and salt of the squid ink pasta with pecorino. If you plan to offer a cheese course or prefer chicken to turkey, this wine is for you! And black pasta would be a hoot if you are hosting a Halloween party!

Our first red wine is one of my favorites from a tiny little region nestled in between France and the Piedmont (and will be included on my own Thanksgiving table.) Enfer d’Arvier from Danilo Thomain is from the Valle d’Aosta (we have tasted this before but not this vintage…it is always good to revisit old favorites to make sure they still remain favorites.) I chose this wine as well because of the name, which means “hell of Arvier” because of the hot days in the summer, and the devil on the label…Halloween will be here before you know it. But this amazing wine made from Petit Rouge, an indigenous grape to Valle d’Aosta. This is a lighter red wine, even lighter than many Pinot Noirs, with red fruit notes and mineral striations of flint and hints of chalk to balance out the acidity. We will pair this with black truffle salami and our truffle paté on baguette. If you choose to go for more Italian inspired foods for your holiday meals, this pairs wonderfully with veal Picatta or Parmesan. Or, enjoy the way I do…with fresh baguette dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Our second red wine is also from the Veneto (back up to northern Italy) and is a blend from Cesari. Justo is 60% Corvina and 40% Merlot and we will be pairing it with our Riso (rice) al Montepulciano. The earthiness of this rice dish needs a wine with a little more structure to hold up to the umami notes from this dish. Using appassimento, or the process of drying the grapes slightly before pressing, helps bring forth the tannic structure to balance out the acid and fruit notes, making this wine “Just Right.” Ripe red fruit (think Bing cherries) with a smooth finish and velvety mouthfeel pairs wonderfully with game dishes or grilled meats.

We will bookend our tasting with another wine from Carboy, a 2016 Primitivo from the Puglia (the heel of the boot.) Now, Carboy is not currently offering this one…but I wanted to offer a unique wine for a unique wine tasting guest. Primitivo is the Italian version of Zinfandel (I know it is a hotly debated topic, but most experts agree now that we have the ability to examine the DNA.) These wines are known for their black fruit, baking spice, and hints of black pepper…I love pairing this varietal with BBQ! On the nose, you may notice a blackberry jam component and that sweet pipe tobacco that hints at cherry and vanilla. While Carboy’s may no longer be available (it does happen and hopefully, won’t be forever), they are producing some fun red wines I would highly encourage you to try as you plan for your holiday celebrations.

I also recently conducted my very first private tasting event for a listener’s wedding anniversary. The happy couple and their guests explored some amazing wines as we discussed why certain wines pair with certain foods, how they are made, and why it is important to always try a wine before deciding you don’t like it (there were several guests who thought for sure they would not like certain wines but had an open mind…and boom! They were shocked to realize they liked those wines best!)

If this is something you are interested in discussing or have questions about any of the wines and foods we sampled with Mandy and Big Al, please feel free to reach out to me via my website,, or shoot me an email at I would love to connect.



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