I like wine. I love drinking it, I love the process, the vineyard life, the connection that the winemakers have to the land. I enjoy wines but I couldn't tell you why and I am always eager to learn more about them. That is why I was so thrilled to have the chance to talk to Jessica Granatiero, owner of The Savory Grape, a fabulous wine shop in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. Jessica is a font of knowledge on all things wine. She opened the shop with her husband Nino in 2006 and they have received recognition in the Wall Street Journal, Wine Spectator and Providence Journal. Jessica and I had some time to chat this week and as always, she graciously shared why she loves Italy and its food and wines so much.
Ashley: What appeals to you most about Italian wines?
Jessica: The diversity of the grapes. Not that we don't have that in the US, but there are thousands of grape varietals in Italy and they vary from region to region. Grapes that grow in the Alto Adige are completely different from those in the south as an example. I also love the history. Italians are much more focused on where they came from. There is a pride in their history. Families pass the winemaking process on from generation to generation and they preserve these traditions with passion.
Ashley: What are your favorite Italian wines for summer?
Jessica - Vernaccia and Soave are good choices - they are light, crisp and vibrant.
While there is always a shift to more white than red in summer, Jessica reminds me not to neglect the reds which go perfectly with barbecue and grilled meat dishes that are so prevelant in the summer months. She recommends lighter reds such as Pinot Nero from the vineyard Altadonna or a Sagrantino from the Antonelli vineyard near Perugia in Umbria. The latter offers a perfect spice that compliments red meat and barbecue perfectly.
Ashley: Your perfect Italian dish/wine pairing for summer?
Jessica: cured meats, hard cheeses such as Parmesan and olives along with a bottle of unoaked Sangiovese from Tre Monti vineyard in the Romagna region.
Ashley : Your favorite Italian wine?
Jessica: That is difficult. There are so many...I do love aged Vernaccia - it's barrel fermented and aged. I also love the Dolcetto wines - they are very food friendly. And of course, Brunello...always a good choice!
Spending time with Jessica and hearing her stories about the winemaking families and culinary traditions she experiences in her travels is truly a delight. To experience that first hand in Italy alongside Jessica is the chance of a lifetime. Jessica has partnered with friend and colleague Kaitlyn Roberts to offer an incredible food and wine trip to Tuscany in October. This very special experience gives guests the chance to meet the winemakers, walk the vineyards, take cooking classes wine education classes and pairing seminars. Staying in an exquisite villa near Lucca, the group will have access to vineyards not normally available to the public. The group is limited to 15 guests to ensure the best possible experience. Thankfully, are a few spaces left - don't miss this opportunity to travel with a wine expert and a Tuscan trained chef who will enlighten you on the history, tradition and exquisite flavor of Tuscan food and wine. For more details visit the Savory Grape's website.
Grazie Mille Jessica! We will all raise a glass of Italian wine to you this summer!