I’ve just returned from a whirlwind holiday in Italy, and as a lover of all things culinary, I fell completely in love with the country. The most beautiful (and tasty!) place we visited was the Tuscan countryside, more specifically the Verrazano Vineyard in Chianti.

My sis and I lounging about the walls of the vineyard before our tour. What a view!

If that name sounds familiar to any of you New Yorkers, don’t be too surprised. Giovanni da Verrazano was born at this estate in 1485 and he later became a celebrated navigator and the discoverer of the bay in New York. The state of New York named a bridge after him in 1964.

The Cappellini family owns the winery today, and they have restored it to its original look and operation to a tee. Our tour guide, Jillian, gave us an amusing and informative look around before teaching us the basics of wine tasting and food pairing.

To learn more about the history of the winery (one of the first, if not the first Chianti vineyards) visit their website or take the tour yourself. I’d recommend it to everyone.

Now for the fun part…

After our tour, the four of us ladies sat down to indulge in a five-course-wine-paired meal. Jillian first took us through the viewing, swirling, smelling, tasting bit of the wine before we began eating. Here’s a look at what was served.

First Course:

Ham, wild boar salami, head cheese, crostino with lard from the Greve Valley and garlic bread.

Each delectable dime of meat on this plate had its own burst of flavor and spices. My favorite was the wild boar salami, which had a more rustic and smoky flavor than any other I’ve tried.

Second Course:

A bit of penne pasta with tomato sauce, fresh pecorino cheese and spiced herbs.

Pasta has always been my guilty pleasure, but I refrained from filling up on this course so that I could make it to the main. By this point, I was pretty full on wine and crostinos, but this pasta was homemade, fresh and a perfect compliment to the Verrazzano Classico 2008.

Main Course:

Grilled sausages and rosticciana (pork ribs) with roasted chicken, salad, white beans and roasted herb potatoes.

Whenever possible, Verrazzano sources all of their food from the vineyard itself, and if they can’t grow it (because they aren’t allowed to irrigate and depend solely on rainfall), they source their food from the Chianti region only. This main part of the meal tasted fresh and local with a snappy skin on the sausage (what I can only assume becomes of the adorable wild boar babies we met on our tour) and perfectly seasoned potatoes. It paired perfectly with the Verrazzano Classico Riserva (Reserve wine) as it was the richest, heartiest part of the meal.

Course Four:

This was the turning point of the meal for me. Sadly, I don’t have any pictures as I was too enamored with the course to separate myself into blogger mode from foodie mode to take a shot. Before we entered the restaurant area, we were shown a room where the Balsamic is made at the vineyard. We could only stick our noses in for a smell, but even that bit of a whiff told me more than I could hope for. The Balsamico Verrazzano takes 12 years to make, it is rotated into several different barrels to ensure a variety of flavor, and it tastes and smells like liquid gold. We tried just a teaspoonful with a piece of Pecornio cheese (as it costs €50 per bottle) and it was heavenly. I bought one (out of sheer adoration, I coughed up €50 that I don’t really have), and I intend to drizzle it over some ice cream or just indulge myself in a spoonful every once in a while.

Course Five:

Our last course was simple and Italian with some Grappa (firewater, I don’t recommend it at all) and coffee with biscotti.

Our afternoon ended with some heavy (literally) purchases and a winding drive back to Florence. This day out was beautiful, tasty and exactly what any foodlover needs in their life. I can’t wait to go back.


-Jamie Hausman

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