I have a conflicted relationship with wine tastings. On the one hand I love them, absolutely love 'em. They're fun, tasty and educational. On the other hand, I usually end up having too much fun, meaning my notes get sloppy and I forget which wine was which, what the differences were and which ones I liked best. But last Wednesday as I settled into my seat for class #4 of Fratelli's six-course Passport to Italy wine series I was determined to come away with a few nuggets of wine-stained info. Two hours, six wines (including a bubbly aperitif), and six mini-meals later I emerged more than a bit tipsy but confident in the knowledge that I rilly, rilly like Babera d'Alba. Or was it Barbera d'Asti?
The classes are taught by Julie Mushett (above), the lovely oenophile behind WineLifeStyle Miami and Aniece Meinhold, Fratelli Lyon's manager and resident wine expert. Both ladies did a great job of imparting their extensive knowldege of Italian wines and kept things running smoothly by keeping the pours coming and instructing which dishes should be paired with the different wines.
The restaurant pitched in with 6 different food pairings that complimented the two whites and four reds we were tasting. The focus was the Piedmont region - Italy's northwest located at the foothills of the Alps. I remember this only because the instructors put together these very thoughtful packets on the wines and the region with nifty little maps that I studied in between munching on Fratelli's addictive breadsticks and marinated olives.
Boozy highlights include:
-an amazingly stinky blue cheese that went well with the Barbera d'Alba (Pelissero 2005)
- a full-bodied Barolo (Icardi 1998) paired with tender slices of steak
- Best in show foodwise: my first time tasting a bagna cauda, a Piedmontese sauce made of pureed anchovies, walnuts, garlic and cream. I was seriously in love with this sauce, I could have downed a mug of it. Needless to say, I licked the little bowl clean with an ample supply of bread sticks and gulps of the floral Cortese (Icardi 2007).
The wine classes ($45 each) are held Wednesdays from 7:30-9:30pm, at Fratelli Lyon's glass-enclosed side dining room. 4141 NE 2nd Ave, 305-572-2901. Tonight's class features the wines of Northern Italy.