Varietal of the Month: Valpolicella

Like most Italian wines, Valpolicella is named for the place where it is produced. This area of wine production near the hills of Verona creates a cool, stable climate for the grapes. The Alps are to the north and the largest lake in Italy, Lake Garda, borders the region. This pocket of land gives Valpolicella protection from the very warm Mediterranean summers.

Behind Chianti, Valpolicella has become one of the most prolific Italian red wines. The grapes used to make Valpolicella include Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara. The first two are required to grow and the 3rd is a blending grape that many producers use to balance the wine.

The wine is traditionally lighter in body and color and also lower in alcohol content. When making the wine many of the producers practice the method of drying the grapes for several months on bamboo mats before making the wine. As moisture content is reduced, the flavors in the grapes are concentrated. 

Wine of the Month: Zenato Valpolicella

Made from vineyards in the Italian wine region of Valpolicella, the Zenato family wine has an impressive lingering finish with rich flavor. On the nose, it delivers delicate hints of almond, maraschino cherries and violet. On the palate, it’s dry and smooth with good structure and wonderfully robust notes of cherry and prune.

The Zenato Valpolicella is made from a grape blend that includes 85% Corvina Veronese, 10% Rondinella, and 5% Corvinone. The vineyards are located near Verona, Italy on approximately 200 acres around the Lake Garda area. From the banks of the lake to the hills of Verona, the valley where the Zenato family vineyards are located have been cultivated since 1960.

Food Pairings:
Pasta with different sauces, red meat, roasted or grilled meat. Risotto, aged cheese, dark chocolate.

Recipe:
Italian Sausage & Kale Soup
Serves: 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped fine
1 carrot, small dice
4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 1/2 cups lentils, rinsed
2 bay leaves
8 sprigs thyme
2 cups water
8 cups chicken broth
3 FRESH Italian Sausage links
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
2 tsp salt, more to taste
1 cup small-shaped pasta, rinsed
2 cups kale, stems discarded, leaves sliced

Add the oil to a large stockpot over medium heat. Sauté the onion and carrot until soft, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, lentils, bay leaves and thyme. Stir and cook until toasted and golden, about 2 minutes. Add water and let the water absorb into the lentils. Add the broth, sausage links and Italian seasoning. Bring to a boil and reduce to a low simmer. Let simmer for 20 minutes. Add the pasta and cook until the pasta is ready; an additional 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the sausages, slice into smaller pieces, and add back to the soup. Add the kale and cook until wilted, about 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Add additional broth if needed.

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