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Great Grapes Wine Festival & Do It Yourself Wine Tastings at Home

Posted in Abruzzo, aperitifs, Caro Diario.(dear diary..), Chianti, Country House Living, cucina, cucina povere, entertaining, La Dolce Vita, recipes, slow food, the Mediterranean diet, Uncategorized, and wine

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My favorite way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon is eating al fresco at home, so that I can have a leisurely, meal with a great bottle of wine, crusty bread. This past Sunday ,it was  a lazy, hazy day, and I was outside with  more than one bottle of wine at the Great Grapes Festival in Cockeysville, Maryland on stage cooking a dish from my latest book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays & Special Occasions-2nd edition.  it wasn’t a lazy Sunday for me, but it was an enjoyable one.

I enjoyed speaking to everyone and answering questions about ingredients to use with recipes in my books and how to get to some of the out of the way places in Italy that are  mentioned in my books.  You can find a lot of info on those places here on this Blog

Never realized there were so many great wineries in Maryland.  But many states in the US are developing their own winemaking.  And with choices of wines produced locally, I receive many emails  asking me how to organize an informal wine tasting with friends and family. Summertime makes a perfect time to do an outdoor one and add that to your roster of activities for having a ‘staycation’

I am hired to do many formal wine tastings, pairings and dinners and the first thing we always decide on is (the most important guests) the wine that we will be tasting.

*Decide on a theme-wines from a specific state in the US or a region in Italy

*Red or white wines

*Divide wine bottle up into stations-tables that hold 1- 4 bottles of wine. Next to each bottle, have a card that tells name, and something about the wine or print up a list guests can carry around with them to take home.

*Each guest needs one glass for each wine he /she will use per each bottle of wine they will be tasting.

*For white wines,sparkling wines, roses, you will need buckets half filled with ice/cold water to keep wines in. Every so often you will want to remove wines so they do not become too cold.

*Have a spittoon on each table and give someone the task of emptying the spittoon every so often

*Include pitchers of water at each table.

*Have crackers and bread cubes or small pieces of bread at each table to eat with wine.

*If you want to make this into a wine pairing, pair  snack foods at each table with those particular wines-cheeses ,breads, crackers, nuts, etc.

*Lastly remember that it is a wine tasting not wine drinking event. So everyone should be prepared to taste a gulp of each wine, not to drink many glasses of each. The purpose of a wine tasting is to be able to discover new wines to try with upcoming meals.


Since mushrooms seem to be considered the meat of the vegetable kingdom, here is a grilling recipe to pair with a red wine

Grilled Porcini Mushrooms

from the upcoming book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: DaVinci Style-2nd edition

8 large porcini mushroom caps
2 cloves of garlic
1 handful fresh parsley
4 tablespoons (60 gr) extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Clean the mushroom caps with a wet paper towel. Do not put under water, but clean delicately with damp paper towel. Chop fresh parsley and garlic. Place mushroom caps,olive oil, chopped parsley, garlic, salt, pepper to taste to marinade in a bowl for 3 minutes. Turn over and marinade for another 3 minutes. Place on hot grill for about 10 minutes-5 minutes for each side. Serve immediately.


See you at:
July 21-24 -Festa Italiana ,Milwaukee Wiconsin-The Basic Art of Italian Cooking by Maria Liberati tm will be on stage doing  cooking demos all weekend

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Designed by Brian Hanshaw

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