Tips for the Novice: How to Taste Wine Like A Pro

For the wine lover, going to a wine tasting can be a fun and educational experience. For the novice, going to a wine tasting can be a very intimidating experience. I’m going to give you a few easy tips that will help you feel comfortable and help you to get the most out of your wine tasting experience.

  1. Don’t wear any perfume or scented beauty products on the day of your tasting! Believe it or not, your own perfume can interfere with your ability to smell the wine. Wine has it’s own floral and oak smells, as do perfumes. Your nose will be confused and you won’t be able to determine if the smells you smell are the wine or your own perfume. Also, the other people at the tasting will appreciate you not wearing perfume, because they can smell you too!
  2. You may want to bring a notebook, or a wine tasting journal. I used to carry a small notebook with me whenever I went wine tasting, but now I have found it easier to carry a wine tasting chart that I have made for myself. I have included it at the end of this article. Feel free to print it and take it with you, if you like. Some wineries will offer wine tasting grids or wine tasting pages, but sometimes it’s just easier to come up with your own system. If you take notes, it’s as if you can enjoy the wine over and over again, just by reading your notes. Okay, let’s be honest, reading your notes won’t be just as good as tasting the wine all over again, but it will certainly help you to remember which wines you liked, and then you can always look for them and buy more of your favorites.
  3. You’ll want to take a sip right away, but don’t. Stop. Hold the glass up to the light. Observe the color, of the wine. Is it magenta or a ruby red? Is it pale yellow or deep gold? Make some notes on the color. Observe if the color is consistent all the way to the edge of the glass? Or do you notice an amber color where the wine touches the edge of the glass, as in the case of some red wines. Look down into the glass. Can you see the stem of the glass through the wine? Can you read a paper through the wine? This will help you determine the intensity of the wine. Swirl the wine slowly around the edge of the glass. Hold the glass up and at an angle. Is the wine clear or murky looking? Make some notes on the density and weight of the wine. If you see wine running down the insides of the glass, that is called the “legs” of the wine. It will indicate to you how much alcohol is in the wine. This can be an indication of quality, but if you don’t see legs on the inside of the glass, it can still be a good wine, it just may perhaps have a lower alcohol content. Take some time to make some notes before moving on to the next step.
  4. Now that you’ve given the wine a good look, you’re ready to take a good sniff. Give the glass a swirl, but don’t bury your nose inside it. You want to hold your nose over the top of the glass. Take a few short sniffs, then put the glass down and allow the smells that your nose has picked up filter through to your brain.

         Here is a short list of aromas that you may recognize in wine:

  • Floral scents such as lavender, jasmine, rose petal, geranium
  • Citrus fruits such as grapefruit, lemon, orange, passion fruit.
  • Fruit smells, such as blackberry, blueberry, dried currant, plum, cherry, strawberry, apple, pear
  • Earthy scents, or stone such as limestone, clay, graphite
  • Wood smells such as toast, vanilla
  • Leather, chocolate, coffee or caramel
  • Food smells such as buttered popcorn, honey
  • Make some notes on the scents that you can smell in the wine you are tasting. Don’t worry, in the beginning days of my wine tasting experiences, I always said that it smelled like wine!!! The intriguing thing about wine, is that it doesn’t ever smell like grapes!!!
  1. Before you taste the wine, plan if you are going to spit or swallow. At wine tastings, professionals spit. Don’t feel shy about spitting. Just ask if they have a “spit bucket”. They always do. If you swallow, even just a few wines, your senses will be dulled as soon as you begin swallowing the wine. If you are going to taste very many wines at all or if you are driving, you should spit the wine out. Tasting wine is not drinking wine. Many amateurs get the two confused. But occasionally, I will make an exception and make the host feel good by telling them that their wine is just too good to spit out, and I will on occasion, swallow the wine at a tasting.
  2. Finally, the best part! Go ahead and taste the wine. Take a small sip, not a large mouthful, just a small sip of wine into your mouth and try sucking on it as if sucking it up through a straw. Ignore the stares of those around you! You not only look like a pro, you sound like a pro! The sucking simply aerates the wine and circulates it throughout your mouth. Then spit the wine into the spit bucket.

Ask yourself a few questions and jot down some notes on what you taste. Do you taste sweet? Sour? Bitter? Does it make your mouth feel wet or dry? Write that down. Do you taste the same things that you smelled? Chocolate, coffee, grapefruit, buttered popcorn? Swirl your glass just a little, and sip and suck, and spit again. You may notice that as you swirl the wine multiple times, the wine will change in flavor. Continue tasting and continue making notes.

Congratulations, you are now tasting like a pro!  Enjoy your tasting! Cheers!






Italy: Veneto

Villa Barberina Valdobbiadene, Italy
Villa Barberina Valdobiadene, Italy
The beautiful, modern pool at Villa Barberina Valdobbiadene, Italy
The view from one of the bedrooms in Villa Barberina, Valdobbiadene, Italy
Swim among the vines that will someday be Nino Franco Prosecco.
One of the guest rooms at Villa Barberina Valdobiadene, Italy
One of guest rooms at Villa Barberina Valdobiadene, Italy
Looking down the driveway at Villa Barberina Valdobbiadene
The vines of the Veneto region.
The Veneto
The Veneto







Visiting the Prosecco Region

The “Prosecco region” of Italy is located in two provinces in northern Italy, the Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia. This region’s proximity to Venice makes it a very easy region for tourists to visit. You can be to the main city in the Veneto region, Valdobbiadene in less than one hour, which makes it possible to visit this area as a day trip, or if you would like to visit numerous wineries, you can spend a few days in this region. The Veneto is only a four hour drive from Milan. The Valpollicella region is half way between Milan and the Veneto region, so a stop half way between in Valpollicella, makes the drive from Milan to prosecco a very rewarding wine adventure!

Valdobbiadene is the best town to be your base for visiting the majority of the wineries in this region. Driving the “Prosecco Road” makes a fabulous day trip. There are brown signs marking the “Prosecco Road” along the way, which makes this a very easy drive anyone, even the non Italian speaking novice travellers. All along thewhich  The best of the Glera grapes, which is the predominant grape used in the making of Prosecco, is grown on steep hillsides and harvested by hand. This makes for beautiful scenery. As I alway say, wine only grows in beautiful places, but honestly, the region outside of Valdobbiadene, Italy is one of the most beautiful wine growing regions in the world.

My recommendation for the perfect wine adventure to explore the prosecco region is to spend a few days staying at the beautiful estate Villa Barberina, while visiting PDC Cartizze, Bisol, Col del Lupo and Nino Franco Spumante, and then when you’re finished touring wineries in the Valdobbiadene area, drive thirty minutes down the prosecco road for some relaxation time drive at the beautiful and picturesque Duca di Dolle Relais for a day or two before returning to Venice. That to me sounds like the perfect prosecco experience.

My Recommendations For The Prosecco Region:


PDC Cartizze-PDC di Pietro De Conti Via Cartizze 5 31049 Valdobbiadene Treviso  [email protected],com  This is the must not miss winery to visit in the prosecco region! Matter of fact, this should be the first appointment that you have in this region. Pietro gives an excellent class that helps you to fully understand the production of prosecco. He gives you an excellent and educational tour of his vineyards containing some very old vines. His prosecco was the best I’ve ever tasted. Please email him for an appointment. Pietro ships wines to the United States. He was also helpful by shipping other wines that we purchased elsewhere and couldn’t find a way to ship it home. Pietro also makes excellent recommendations for local restaurants. We had a wonderful lunch at a place that he recommended that looked unimpressive from the outside, but had fabulous food, that we would have totally missed out on if it weren’t for his recommendation! It will help you to understand the region if like me, you don’t know much about before your arrival.

Bisol-31040 S. Stefano di Valdobbiadene (Fol) Treviso  Bisol has a tour and a tasting available by appointment. This was an excellent tour. Bisol is the only winery in this area that I found that you are allowed to walk right on the production floor and watch their wine being produced. Unfortunately this winery does not ship wine to the United States. Interestingly, our guide, Daniela, asked us what hotel we were staying at, and when I told her “Duca di Dolle” she said that we received a free tasting, tour and 10 percent discount on anything we purchased. That was an unexpected surprise! If you visit Bisol, be sure and ask if the hotel you’re staying at is part of that agreement with the winery! Overall, a visit that was definitely worthwhile.

Col Vetoraz-Strada della Treziese, 1 310049 S. Stefano di Valdobbiadene (Treviso) [email protected]  [email protected]  This winery offers only a tasting with no tour. The two young women working there knew little about their products and engaged in personal conversations for so long that I felt bad interrupting them to ask questions about their products. The tasting room does have a beautiful view and that is really the only reason to go there. This is a pass poured wine with a large production facility. This winery makes a cheap, low quality prosecco. Te view is beautiful and next to the parking lot is a great hike you can take and buy a picnic while on the hike. No appointment necessary.

Nino Franco Spumante s.r.l.-Via Garibaldi 147, 31049 Valdobbiadene (TV)

This winery produces one of the higher quality prosecco products from this region. This winery offers a tasting but no tour. You can see a small part of the operation through a window in the tasting room. What I enjoyed the most about this tasting was that I was surprised with a visit from Mr. Franco, himself! He couldn’t be nicer and more welcoming, by the way! I’ll never forget my meeting with him!

Col del Lupo-Via Rovede, 37 31020 Vidor (TV)  I did not visit this winery myself, but this winery was recommended to me, and I plan to visit on my next trip to the prosecco region.


Villa Barberina-Villa Roma, 2 Valdobbedienne (TV).  [email protected]  This is an amazing french style chateau hotel which is owned by the Nino Franco winery. Mrs. Annalisa Franco, Mr. Primo Franco’s wife, runs this beautiful hotel. I can not recommend this hotel enough. Villa Barbarina is an historic home that has been restored. The chateau is has furnishings from the family that originally lived in this home. It truly is an amazing place. You will feel like you are a guest of the home owner. The Franco’s have paid attention to every detail. All of the bathrooms have been updated to be comfortable, and yet very close to the period of the home. Villa Barberina only has five rooms, all with private baths. There is a modern pool which is simply stunning. This amazing estate is only a five minutes walk from the center of town. This is the perfect hotel from which to base your visit to the wineries of prosecco. Best of all, the prices are quite affordable.

Duca di Dolle Relais-Via Piai Orientali, 5  31030 Rolle di Cison di Valmarino Treviso  [email protected]   This inn is about 25 minutes from Valdobbeidene, the main town and the heart of the prosecco region. The drive is far, but when you get there, you can enjoy perfection in a hotel. No T.V.’s no radio’s provided, because the proprietor Valdo, wants you to have a peaceful and relaxing experience. Cold plates of meat are available but no restaurant, due to the fact that he thinks a restaurant would interfere with the solitude of the inn. Breakfast is a buffet of all home cooked foods. Everything is raised and produced by this hotel. Literally, the eggs they serve are from their chickens, the meats are from their pigs. This hotel serves one of the most delicious breakfasts I’ve ever enjoyed while traveling throughout Europe. Breakfast does not start until 8:30, so plan accordingly to not make your appointments too early, and have to miss out on breakfast like I had to one of the days that I was there. There is a beautiful pool on the property. The view from the grounds of this hotel is breath taking. I highly recommend this hotel, despite the long drive from Valdobbiadene. It is totally worth it once you get there. The bathroom had a small shower with amazing jets, so even though the shower was small it was an enjoyable experience! I wish I would have allowed one day to just rest and relax at this lovely hotel, like the proprietor intends you to do while visiting this tranquil place.


Ristorante B & B Da Andreeta-Ristorante B&B Da Andreetta  Via Enotria 5   31030 – Rolle di Cison di Valmarino (TV)  [email protected]  This restaurant has an amazing outdoor view! This restaurant is in Rolle, about 25 mintutes from Valdobbeidene, and five minutes from the beautiful inn, Duca di Dolle. Very good food and excellent service. They serve fabulous meat plates, cheese plates, steaks and desserts. I ate here twice, which is something I almost never do on one vacation. Yes, it was that good! This restaurant is located very close to Duca Di Dolle Relais.

Salis Ristorante Enoteca-Via Strada di Saccol 52  31049 – Valdobbiadene (TV) [email protected]  This restaurant has a lovely terrace. The food including the zucchini flowers and fresh pasta dishes were incredible. We had a fabulous local wine. You must not miss this restaurant.

Ristorante Alla Pergola-Via Rocat E Ferrari 29, 31049, Valdobbiadene, (TV)   [email protected]  This restaurant was recommended to us by Pietro from PDC Catrizze, (which is also a must visit). This restaurant didn’t look like much from the outside, but the food was amazing!!!! You must go here. We were brought an amuse bouche that was a cheese soup that was amazing.  I then had the gazpacho that was delicious. I then had the pasta made in Prosecco, and it was one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever had in my life. You must visit this restaurant, but do make a reservation. It gets very crowded at meal times.

Ristorante Pizzeria Solo Mattia-Localita Valle di San Daniele 1  Vicino Al Bosco Delle Penne Mozze, 31030 Cison Di Valmarino. Out in the middle of the woods in a beautiful park, is a pizza restaurant with a vast menu that serves perfect crispy crust Italian pizza. The staff was very friendly and they have an english menu. They only serve a cheap house cabernet, but it totally hit the spot for a super inexpensive casual dining experience. I had the pizza with buffalo mozzarella and it was scrumptious. My husband had something with a lot of meat on it and really loved it. This restaurant is located approximately 30 minutes from Valdobbiediene, near the hotel Duca di Dolle Relais.








Italy: Valpolicella

Agriturismo del Bugiardo
Agriturismo Dimora del Bugiardo
The view from Agriturismo Dimora del Bugiardo
Viticoltori in Valpolicella Buglioni, the winery of Dimora del Bugiardo

Valpolicella is a wonderful wine region to visit. The countryside in Valpolicella in the Veneto region of Italy, is beautiful, as it is in all wine regions. The grapes that will become either Amarone or Ripasso and Ricioto, are grown on steep slopes outside of the towns of Negrar, Fumane, Marano and San Pietro in Cariano. The traveller will find that there are signs for “Cantina”on every corner. These cantinas are open every business day, during normal business hours. One should note that normal business hours are typically from 10.00 am until 6.00pm. Some of these cantinas are closed for a two hour lunch break in the middle of the day, so be prepared to perhaps take a leisurely lunch break yourself! The more difficult part of your visit will be to actually find wineries that are willing to welcome you for a tour of their vineyard and cellars. I spoke with Melissa of the agriturismo Dimora del Bugiardo, as to why this is the case in this region. She explained to me that most wine cellars are in the first level of the winery owners home, and they simply do not wish for the general public to come into their home. This is simply the culture in this area, and the wine tourists should respect their culture and their privacy. Some wineries however, both small and large, have no problem inviting you to visit their winery. One of those is Le Bignele. I cannot recommend a visit to Le Bignele more. Silvia, who is a family member  gives a fabulous tour of both her vineyards and her cellar. She is patient and answered all of our questions. Silvia is unusual in that she even welcomes guests on a Sunday, which if you visit this region on a Sunday, you need to know that it will be very difficult to find anywhere to visit on a Sunday. The best part of Le Bignele is that if you purchase wine, there is no charge for the tasting and she will ship your wine home for you! Honestly, I enjoyed my visit to Le Bignele so much that it didn’t bother me all that that my numerous emails to Quintarelli were totally ignored…

My Recommendations for the Valpolicella Region:


Dimora del BugiardoAgriturismo Dimora del Bugiardo-Via Cariano, 24, 37029 S.Pietro in Cariano (Verona), Valpolicella  email: [email protected] -This hotel is a rustic farmhouse that has been beautifully restored. This agriturismo provides an excellent included breakfast buffet. The breakfast buffet was delicious, as was the cappuccino. This is a working winery, although unfortunately they do not give tours of the winery or cellar. They produce excellent wines and sell them at a very good price, but sadly, they do not ship them. We purchased wine from them and we were able to find another winery to ship it home for us.

Maria and Melissa are lovely hard working ladies running this beautiful hotel. The rooms in the farmhouse are rustic and comfortable all at the same time. This agriturismo is located right off of the highway so it is well located and convenient to all of the local wineries and tasting rooms. They were kind enough to provide at check in a listing of local tasting rooms, salumi stores and local activities. The restaurant is two minutes away at their sister hotel and it is fabulous.  They have outdoor seating on their terrace. They make their own wines, We had a truly fabulous experience at this hotel. Free WIFI in all rooms.


Le Bignele-Via Biniele, 4, 37020 Valgatara VR email: [email protected]

Silvia gives and excellent tour and tasting of her family’s small boutique winery near Fumane in the Valpollicella region. Silvia is extremely knowledgeable and was kind enough to spend a few hours of her Sunday with us, which is pretty much unheard of in this area. She ships wine to the United States. Do not miss an opportunity to meet with Silvia! You will learn so much from Silvia and have a great hands on experience. You can also purchase their fabulous cherry jam! Yum!

Masi Serego Alighieri-I was only able to have a tasting in a tasting room. Even though I emailed them weeks in advance I was not able to get a tour on the day that I was available due to a large tour group occupying all available appointments. There are tours of the estate that are available for 18 euros for a 1 1/2 hour tour with a three wine tasting. This is a huge winery. They have multiple locations and conference rooms for conferences.This is wine that is mass produced and some of their wines are available all over the world. After visiting many wineries I have found that most of the time I prefer small boutique wineries. It is my recommendation to skip this tasting room and spend your time elsewhere.

A note on one way to get in to some of these wineries that may not be open to the public for tours-I am typically not a fan of guided tours, but I have heard that if you want to visit Qunitarelli it is possible to sign up for a tour with a tour company, and that is one way to get in to that very exclusive winery for a tour and tasting. I had also read that some people have just hung out outside and been invited in. I hung out outside for about a half an hour, and had no luck getting  invited in! A truck that was heading down the private road of the winery did pass me, and for a fleeting moment, I did consider jumping on the back!. Who knows, maybe someday I’ll break down and sign up for a tour. II’d love to hear your stories, if you get into Quntarelli, please let me know! I’d love to hear all about it!


Locando Del Bugiardo-Via Cariano, 24/A 37029 S. Pietro in Cariano (VR)

email:  [email protected]-This restaurant is in the sister inn of Dimora del Bugiardo. This is an excellent restaurant. We ate here twice, and I could have eaten here a few more times, there were so many good things on the menu that I wanted to try! You must not miss the Ripasso Risotto. That risotto was one of the best dishes that  I have ever eaten. This restaurant offers steaks, an amazing cheese plate with homemade jams, chocolate cake; every dish we had was delicious. This restaurant makes their own wine. Their Ripasso is so rich and deep in color that it was mistaken for an Amarone, by a famous sommelier. You must eat here and you must try the Ripasso!

Enoteca della Valpolicella-Sas Di Riolfi A. E. C. Via Osan, 45 37022 Fumane VR

email: [email protected] food. No menu. The waiter discusses with you what you would like to eat, and he makes suggestions for you. This restaurant has largest wine menu that I have ever seen in my life! In our conversation with the waiter, we decided to do a wine pairing lunch. This was truly an amazing meal. This is a restaurant that you should not miss out on!

Trattoria Rosa-Via Brennero, 21 Corrubbio di Negarine (Verona)-Allow Gabrielle to cook you an amazing steak with grilled vegetables over an open fire! This is a fabulous experience, and Gabrielle counldn’t be nicer! He even shared a selection of grappas with us after our meal. My favorite was the blueberry grappa! Yum!

Things to do in the area:

If you are in this area you should take some time to visit the city of Verona. Verona is a beautiful city with beautiful renaissance architecture. The sidewalks in this city are all marble. Of course, we had to see the statue of Juliet and rub her breast, and see the wall outside of the building that claims to be her home, featured in the movie “Letters From Juliet”, which happens to be one of my favorite movies…

When doing my research for our trip I discovered that there was an opera on Saturday night while we were there, so I just couldn’t miss an opportunity to see my first opera! We saw “Madame Butterfly” and it was a fabulous experience. We sat in the first elevated level as close to the stage as we could get. It was surprisingly difficult to hear, so I would not recommend purchasing tickets too far away from the stage. We were pleasantly surprised when the opera started and we realized there were screens on either side of the stage that had all of the words in english on them! Prior to the opera my husband and I both read a synopsis of the opera, so that we would have some understanding of what was going on, and that really helped us to enjoy the opera. I have a few hints for you about attending the opera. I brought a pair of small binoculars, from home, and that helped me to be able to look closely at the beautiful costumes, and even see the facial expressions of the actors, which I really enjoyed. This is a very, dressy occasion for Italians. Most men were in suits and many women were in long dresses. To make yourself more comfortable I recommend either bringing a seat cushion with you or you can rent a seat cushion for just a few euros. That definitely helped with the comfort level. I brought my own fan, but they do have them to purchase, because it was very, very hot until the sun went down. They do sell beverages, which you will probably need! Overall, it was an awesome experience.

Osteria Casa Vino-Vicolo Morette 8/a, 37121, Verona. This restaurant is just a five minutes walk from the amphitheater where the opera is held. The food was very good. They provided great service. We dined outside which was really nice and comfortable, even though it was a very hot day. If you visit Verona, this is a very nice restaurant with a huge menu!



Italy: Piedmont

Rivetto Winery, Barolo
The view of Barolo from Rivetto Winery
Rivetto Winery

Barolo is one of the most beautiful wine regions in the world. Most tourists visit the Tuscany wine growing region, and think of Tuscany as THE Italian wine growing region, but in my opinion, the best wines produced in Italy are produced in the Barolo region. Barolo wines are expertly crafted wines in the Burgundy style of wine production. These wines have virtually an unlimited aging potential. I found it to be very easy to ship your wine purchases home from this region, so plan a trip to Barolo and fill your wine cellar with wines that will only get better with age.

Barolo is a relatively small area to cover. There are two beautiful small towns to visit, La Morra and Barolo. Most wineries in the Barolo region welcome visitors to tour their winery and have a tasting of their wines. There are also many fabulous restaurants in the area, so you certainly won’t be hungry when visiting this area! Honestly, besides eating delicious food and drinking amazing wine, there really is nothing else to do there, but if you are a wine lover like I am, you will have no problem filling many days with winery tours, wonderful lunches visiting more wineries and enjoying fabulous dinners!

The Barolo wine region is two hour drive from the Milan’s Malpensa Airport. Renting a car and driving to this region is the best way to get there, as it is very rural and has no public transportation to this area. It is a beautiful and easy drive from Milan to Barolo.

My recommendations for the region of Barolo:



Rivetto-Az. Agr. Rivetto dal 1902 s.s Serralunga d’Alba Cantine in Loc. Lirano 2 Sinio Piemonte, Italia Very nice boutique winery with excellent wines. They do ship wine. If you buy enough wine you can negotiate no cost for the tasting. One interesting thing here to see is they have a cellar where you can actually see the layers in the soil. Something interesting to see, that I had never seen before. Rivetto also has guest rooms that you can stay in.

Rita [email protected]
Rita works at the Rivetto winery and gives tours at the winery. Rita is also a local artist that paints with wine. She also makes wine themed jewelry available for purchase out of her studio in Barolo. Contact Rita if you would like to see some of her unique art or some of her fabulous jewelry pieces.

Ceretto-Aziende Vitivinicole S.r.l. Strada Provinciale Alba/Barolo Localita San Cassiano, 34 12051 Alba (CN) [email protected] I rarely recommend big wineries, but I highly recommend a visit to this winery. The tour at Ceretto was extremely educational. This is an organic and biodynamic winery, and they can educate you on what these terms mean in the region of Barolo. I recommend the higher tier wine tasting. They ship wine which makes purchasing their wines very easy. This is an absolutely beautiful facility. Everyone that worked in the gift shop was extremely nice and they threw in a few bonuses for us because we purchased a large amount of wine. I highly recommend a visit to Ceretto.

Marchesi Di Barolo-Via Alba, 12 12060 Barolo (CN) [email protected] This winery is actually very historically important in this region. They offer an excellent tour of their winery which is located in a beautiful old historic building. This winery offers a fabulous lunch in a beautiful dining room, if you book it in advance. No outdoor seating. I highly recommend a tour and tasting at this winery.

Fratelli Serio & Batista Borgogno-Via Crosia 12, Localita Cannubi 12060 Barolo (CN) [email protected] No Tour available. Tasting only in a very basic tasting room, Lovely family member who gives the tasting. They ship wine to the United States. Due to the lack of a tour, I don’t recommend this as a must visit.

Elvio Cogno-Localita Ravera 2 12060 Novello (CN) [email protected] This winery provided a nice tour and tasting at a small boutique winery. By appointment only. The will charge you for a tasting even if you purchase wine. The do not ship wine. Currently they are building a new tasting room. I honestly can’t recommend this winery as a must visit because of their policies of charging you for a tasting no matter how much wine you purchase and the policy of not assisting customers in shipping their wine. I see this as a winery that travelers have no reason to visit.

Wine Bars:

La Vite Turchese-Via Alba 5, 12060 Barolo [email protected] (Stefano Moiso) This is the best wine bar I have ever been to. This is also an excellent wine store. Small plates of meat and cheese are available. Stefano and his staff are extremely helpful and willing to educate you on the local wines of Barolo. If you want to have a class with him you should make an appointment to meet with him. Stefano will ship your wine for you. You do not need an appointment if you just want to stop in a drink wine or have meat and cheese plates, but if you want him to spend time with you, it is definitely best to make an appointment.


Hotel Castel de Sinio-Hotel Castello di Sinio Vicolo del Castello, no. 1
12050 Sinio (CN) Piemonte, Italia [email protected]
I did not actually stay here myself, but this castle and it’s proprietor, Denise Pardini, who is from San Fransisco, have been highly recommended to me. She will make you dinner for as many nights that you wish to dine in house while you are a guest of her hotel. Of course, you might be torn if you should dine in with her, and miss out on some of the fabulous local restaurants…but I’ve heard that her meals are fabulous. Also her website has a lot of good information on restaurants and wineries in the area. If you read her reviews on Tripadvisor you will want to stay here!

La Notte Apartment-Fraz. Annunziata, 25/C 12064 La Morra (CN) [email protected] This is apartment is also available on Air BNB. This is an absolutely fabulous place to stay! The view from the terrace is breathtaking. Literally, you can stand outside and have a panoramic view of the Barolo region. Inside, there is a nice kitchen, coffee maker and coffee provided, a beautiful modern bathroom, a nice dark bedroom, which allowed me to sleep in a few mornings, a dining area and two sitting areas to relax in. All in all, just perfection. The owner of the property, Chiara, lives downstairs and with her husband and children, and you will never even know they are there. This is a very well built home, literally you hear no noise from the family downstairs. I was a little concerned about staying on the property with the owner on the property, as I had a very bad experience with a situation like that in the past, but don’t fear this Air BNB, you’ll never even know the family is there.


Osteria La Cantinella-Via Acqua Gelata 4/a, 12060 Barolo This is a great spot for lunch in Barolo with an outdoor terrace for dining. I had the most amazing Barolo Risotto. Literally, it was the smell of the Barolo risotto cooking that made us stop and try this restaurant. I’m drooling just thinking about it…


Locanda in Cannubi-Via Crosia 14 | Loc. Cannubi, 12060 Barolo You must not miss this restaurant! You will dine among the vines. Some of the best vines vines in the area are in Cannubi, and this beautiful restaurant with a huge outdoor terrace is right across the street from those beautiful vines. Please dress up for this restaurant. It is a little pricier and fancy than some of the other local restaurants, but totally worth it!

La Morra:

Cantina Communale Di La Morra-Via C. Alberto, 2 12064 La Morra (CN) www, [email protected] This is the most cost effective place to buy wines that are produced in this region. I found the same wines in wine stores in Barolo for a much higher price. Hint: If you are a fan of Silvia Altare’s wines, like I am, I found her wines here at the best price anywhere. She does not sell her wines from the winery, so if you want any of her wines, this should be somewhere that you stop! They ship wine if you purchase it from them or you can bring wine from local wineries to them and they will ship them for you! They offer wines to taste. The staff is very helpful in helping you find wine that suits your specific tastes and price points.


La Fontanazza-Strada Fontanazza, 4, 12064, La Morra This is a tiny restaurant that makes amazing fresh pastas, homemade soups, desserts. Fabulous food. Great view of La Morra. Bring your camera!La Fontanazza-This is a small local restaurant with an outdoor deck and a beautiful view of the hill top town of La Morra. The serve fabulous home cooked food, that you cannot miss while in this area.

Bovio-Via Alba 17, 12064, La Morra I unfortunately did not make it to this restaurant, but I have heard very good things about this restaurant. They also have rooms that you can book to stay in. This restaurant is located just outside of La Morra.


Elio Altare-Azienda Agricola Elio Altare Fraz. Annunziata, 51 12064 La Morra (CN) [email protected] This is one of the most famous wineries of Barolo. Altare is a small, beautiful boutique winery now run by Elio Altare’s daughter, Silvia. Silvia has appeared in the movies, “Somm: Into the Bottle” and “The Barolo Boys”. In both movies Silvia tells the story of her father, who as a young man in his twenties, drove to France and met with some of the biggest names in French wine, and learned techniques that he took back home with him and applied to his family’s winery, transforming Barolo from a low quality, cheap, hard to drink table wine, into one of the best wines in the world. Silvia is a part of one of the pioneering Barolo families, and yet she is fun, kind and takes enormous amounts of her time to give a wonderful tour of her families estate. I highly suggest you try to get an appointment with Silvia. If you are lucky enough to meet her and tour her winery, it will be one of the most fun and informative tours that you will find in Barolo. Silvia sells out of her wine every year, so you may have to go to the Communale in La Morra or look at wine stores in Barolo to find her wine.


Alba is a nice town, with many services available, but it is not picturesesque like the towns of Barolo and LaMorra. There are many wine bars in this town, but honestly, there’s really no need to visit there.

Ristorante Larossa-Via Don Giacomo Alberione 10 [email protected] If you look on TripAdvisor this restaurant has all very good reviews…all but mine. This restaurant is supposedly very gourmet, and therefore; this restaurant is very expensive. Even though I made my reservation months in advance, we were seated in the back of the basement. It was ridiculously hot in the restaurant, to the point where I became nauseous and could not even eat my dinner. They do supposedly provide excellent service, but I fanned myself the entire evening, and even though the staff could see that I was uncomfortable, they did not do anything about the heat and did not apologize for the uncomfortable temperatures. When I walked out the door to a beautiful, cool evening, it was then that I realized I’d wasted an evening of my vacation in a hot, ugly basement, when I could have spent my evening dining outdoors with a beautiful view, while spending a lot less money. Every dinner of my vacation is precious to me, and it is for that reason that I cannot recommend this restaurant. If you like “Michelin Star” type dining and don’t mind sitting in a basement room to eat, you will like this place. I however, did not enjoy my evening at all. I cannot recommend this restaurant.

Ape Wine Bar-(Not Ape! “Ape” means Bee in Italian!) Beautiful wine bar and restaurant next to the church in Alba. We didn’t eat, only drank sparkling water and wine, but people dining around us looked to have delicious food. I wished I’d chosen this restaurant instead of Ristorante Larossa.

Silvia Altare of Elio Altare Wines
Elio Altare Wines La Morra, Italy
Elio Altare Wines
Elio Altare Wines, La Morra
Elio Altare Winery






The Best White Wine That I Have Ever Tasted

This is the rear entrance of Bar Brutal. Don’t use it, like I did!
This is the most amazing white wine!
This is the most amazing octopus dish I have ever had!


I love this on the back window of Bar Brutal!

I am a very fussy white wine drinker. Just to give you a reference point, I turn my nose up at most Pinot Grigio’s, Chardonnay’s, Most Sauvignon Blanc’s, in other words…I’m very picky when it comes to white wines. However, I love most Chablis! I also love a french chardonnay that is not heavily oaked, like a Pouilly Fuisse, (Louis Jadot is an easy to find at any liquor store). What I loathe is a heavily oaked, California chardonnay. Some people who agree with me, call them “butter bombs”. Sorry, Kendall Jackson, but you are one of the worst offenders. I will say though, that these chardonnays make a great sauce when you need to add white wine to create a buttery white wine sauce, such as in my family’s favorite garlic shrimp recipe. One California chardonnay that I do love is, Jordan Chardonnay. So, now that you know me a little better, you can imagine my trepidation and fear when, in a Barcelona wine bar the other night, the waiter suggested a white wine on their menu. I responded with, “Uh, I’ll try this Catalonian red, thanks…” But after thoroughly enjoying my red wine, I became inquisitive about the white. I asked the waitress about the wine. She raved about it. She explained that is was an all organic, totally natural wine from a winery in nearby Catalonia. She said it was more like a red wine than a white wine, which thoroughly confounded me… So I took a chance and ordered it.

I then asked the waitress for a recommendation for my dinner course. She recommended the octopus. I flinched, and said, “The octopus? Really?” You see, I haven’t been a big fan of the octopus that I’ve had in the past. All I remember from my last few attempts at enjoying octopus were some very chewy tentacles. But I wanted to look sophisticated, so I said, “Sounds great! I’ll try it!” secretly flinching inside. (Honestly, I was just relieved that she didn’t recommend the brain that was on the menu!). She then added, “It will pair really well with the wine you ordered.” I’m a sucker for a good pairing, so I went for it.

Fast forward to my first sip. My first taste was of course on the tip of my tongue. This white wine reminded me of my beloved Chablis. It was light. It had very little flavor. But it was light weight and light in flavor in an excellent way. Just what I like in a white wine. But then at the finish, it was black pepper! Black pepper! I am not kidding! This was the most unique, unexpected flavor! I took a nibble of green olive. Now mind you, I had thoroughly enjoyed my light, fruity Catalonian red wine with my olives, but the pairing of the green olive with this lightly flavored white wine, with the black pepper finish, this was truly an amazing experience.

And then the octopus arrived. My first thought was, thank goodness! No tentacles! The octopus meat was sliced, and I would have never even recognized it as coming from an octopus. It honestly could have passed for chicken! The octopus was in a dish with grapefruit slices, and onions, and I believe radishes? In a sauce of grapefruit juice. It was simply delicious! But the pairing of this unique and delicious white wine with this dish was simply divine! It was the perfect refreshment on a hot Spanish day. I honestly wish I could give you all a bite. I highly recommend if you are ever in Barcelona that you visit Bar Brutal and try this fabulous pairing of octopus and this unusual and delicious white wine!

Please visit Bar Brutal at Carrer Princesa, 14 Note: Bar Brutal does not open until 7pm.
Born, Barcelona
[email protected]
The light, fruity red wine that I enjoyed was from Cellar Mendall. The unusual white wine Cellar Credo Sant Sadurni d’Anola-Penedes Estrany 2013


The United States: Wine Grown in All 50 States

Moondancer Winery Wrightsville, Pennsylvania
Moondancer Winery Wrightsville, Pennsylvania


You might think the the pictures above were taken in France…but you’d be wrong! They are from a winery in Central Pennsylvania, called Moondancer. The United States is the number one New World wine producing country. Most everyone knows about the Napa Valley as the number one wine producing region in the United States, but new wine regions are popping up all over the United States in some very unexpected places!


Is my favorite region for Pinot Noir. when you visit the region of Carneros you will know why their pinot is so delicious. It’s because of the cows…and with cows you have…fertilizer! Yes, the soil in Carneros is the richest most fertile soil in the Napa Valley and it’s thanks to the cows that graze there.

Believe it or not, wine is produced in all fifty states in the United States and that means that there is a winery in Hawaii. I recently visited Volcano Winery in Volcano, Hawaii on the Big Island. It was a great experience trying unique wines made from symphony grapes, yellow guava, and the exotic jaboticaba blende with grapes to create unique tropical flavored wines. The also produce some fablulous tea infused wines and a “meade” made with hawaiian organic honey. If you are in Hawaii the Hawaiian Islands and visit the Volcano in Hawaii, I highly recommend the short drive to this unique winery!

The vines at Volcano Winery, Volcano Hawaii
Volcano Winery Volcano Hawaii



Germany: The Mosel Valley


Planning Your Own Wine Tasting Meal

There are fine restaurants all over the world that offer food and wine pairings meals, but they tend to be very expensive. You can save money and make a fun evening by planning your own food and wine pairing dinner in your own home. All you need to know are a few simple tips.

  1. Begin by choosing what style of food you would like to serve. Perhaps you would like an Italian or French themed dinner, or a good old American style meal! If you are serving Italian recipes, Italian wines should be the star of the show. If you wish to focus on American style food, California wines will shine!
  2. Once you have chosen the style of food, choose the actual recipes. You will look at the ingredients in your recipes, such as the seasonings on the meats and sauces to help you match the wine that will taste best with your entree choices.
  3. Consider the weight of each course. Lighter foods deserve to be paired with a low tannin, lighter weight wine. Heavy foods need a heavy wine so that the wine will still stand out against the heavy food.
  4. Consider beginning your meal with a Prosecco, Cava, Champagne or sparkling wine. I love to put a glass in my guests hands the moment they walk in the door! Nothing else makes an occasion seem festive like a glass of bubbly!


You can do what I did recently! Make the most of a bottle of wine that you wish to drink, by researching recipes that pair well with the style of wine which you happen to have! I recently received two bottles of wine as a gift, wines that I would never purchase for myself. Both were very oaky California chardonnay’s, which happens to be my least favorite type of wine. I wanted to try to make the most of these bottles by researching recipes that pair well with an oaky chardonnay. The results were fabulous! A heavily oaked chardonnay can be delicious when served with the right menu!

Just as an example I’ve shared with you my wine chardonnay pairing dinner menu.

Chardonnay Pairings Menu

2010 MacMurray Chardonnay
Russian River Valley Sonoma, California

Brown Sugar and Macadamia Nut Brie

Sea Scallops Wrapped in Bacon

Winter White Salad
Served with Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dressing

Dijon Chicken Drumsticks
served with crusty bread

Vin Santo served with Apricot Almond Biscotti

Use your imagination, the internet and get pairing! Enjoy!





Italy: Tuscany

Sangiovese grapes, that will someday be a delicious Brunello, growing on the slopes of Montalcino.
Wine Barrels at Altesino Winery, Montalcino Italy
The beautiful Tuscan town of Civita di Bagnoregio,

Once you have visited Tuscany you will never think of Italian Wine in the same way. Tuscany is rolling hills, sunflower fields and stone farmhouses. As you drive along curving roads, ever so often you make your way to a beautiful village. Montalcino is one of these villages. Famous for the Brunello wine grown on its hill sides, Montalcino is one of the most picturesque villages in Tuscany. Brunello wine is made from the Sangiovese grape grown here, but the most important ingredient in creating one of the world’s most delicious wines, is the soil. The soil on the hillsides of Montalcino is mostly made up of limestone. When you refine your senses of smell and taste, you will learn to recognize the limestone taste in this wine, and be able to recognize this wine in a blind tasting, immediately. Brunello has a smell and taste like no other wine. A delicious mix of dried currant, dried blueberry with under currents of limestone and smoke develop in these wines due to the required eight years of aging which is required for these special wines to be labeled as a Brunello. Altesino Winery is a fabulous small boutique winery to visit. We stopped in the day before we wanted to visit and made an appointment for the following day. During our visit we had a tour and a tasting of not only their wonderful Brunello wine, but also their olive oil. Don’t miss this winery!

The communale (local wine store which sells local wines direct from the farmer) in the picturesque town of Montalcino is located in the beautiful castle in Montalcino. The employees were very helpful in choosing local wines to taste and purchase. They also ship your wines home which makes it very easy to purchase wine and send it home!

My Recommendations for Tuscany:

Altesino-Strada Provinciale del Brunello 53024 Montalcino SI, Italy [email protected] 

Fortezza di Montalcino-Piazzale Fortezza, 9 53024 Montalcino SI, Italy



Spain: Barcelona

Spain is wonderful country to visit as a wine travel destination! Spain is most well known for its Tempranillo grape, but there are many important wines being produced in Spain, that the wine connoisseur should now about. Spain is a beautiful country with diverse landscape which is a beautiful setting for a wine focused vacation. There are some areas of the country that are rugged and arid, and other regions that are lush and floral. Spain used to have a bad reputation for low quality wines, but over the last twenty years much has changed in regards to wine making in Spain. Today there are many high quality wines being produced in Spain. Also, much attention is being given to the organic, all natural wines that are being produced, as I discovered on my last trip to Barcelona, at a wine bar called Bar Brutal, a wine bar totally dedicated to organic and natural wines from around the world. Both Barcelona and Madrid are conveniently located to wine country in Spain. Either city is a fabulous gateway to begin your journey into discovering Spain’s best wines.

If you decide to begin your trip in the city of Barcelona, I highly recommend a visit to Bar Brutal. Bar Brutal is wine bar totally dedicated to promoting all organic natural wines from around the world. On my last visit to Bar Brutal, I focused on tasting wines from Spain, but on my next visit I would definitely plan to try some of their other offerings from Italy and France. Not only do they serve delicious, natural wines, but they also offer small plates of gourmet food. I recently visited Bar Brutal, and I tasted three Spanish organic wines. The first wine I tasted was a Spanish red wine. I paired it with a plate of Spanish olives as my first course. The wine was a very tasty red, and refreshing on a hot Spanish day. It was very fruity and light. It had a very nice finish. It left a light fruit flavor on the tongue.

Next, I decided to be daring (for me) and try a white wine. I know it was on odd choice to start with a red and move to a white, but if you read my article entitled, “The Best White Wine I Have Ever Tasted,” You’ll get a better understanding of why I did this. I don’t really recommend starting with a red and then moving to white, I’m honestly just more of a red wine drinker than I am a white wine drinker. I rarely discover a white wine that I really like, so I was hesitant to jump in to my evening with a white that I might not like! But after my adorable waitress really hyping up this white by telling me that, “It’s a white that’s more like a red,” I became intrigued and just had to give it a try.

Fast forward to my first sip. My first taste was of course on the tip of my tongue. This white wine reminded me of my beloved Chablis. It was light. It had very little flavor. But it was light weight and light in flavor in an excellent way. Just what I like in a white wine. But then at the finish, it was black pepper! Black pepper! I am not kidding! This was the most unique, unexpected flavor! I took a nibble of green olive. Now mind you, I had thoroughly enjoyed my light, fruity Catalonian red wine with my olives, but the pairing of the green olive with this lightly flavored white wine, with the black pepper finish, this was truly an amazing experience. For my next course, I took the waitresses recommendation and ordered the octopus. It was an amazing dish. It was slices of octopus with sections of grapefruit and onion slices in a pickle of grapefruit juice. It was delicious alone, but paired with this amazing white wine, with the pepper finish, it was simply divine.

For my next course I was tempted to indulge in something rich, but when I saw a cheese and sherry course, I was thrilled! I love to have a nice ending to my meal without all of the guilt, so I always jump at an opportunity to have a cheese course. I ordered the comte cheese and sherry. I was pleasantly surprised when it arrived! It included some wonderful almonds and some delicious, crunchy breadsticks! The sherry was unlike any I have ever tried before. Full disclosure, I haven’t had the opportunity to taste that many sherryies on my wine journey thus far, so I will describe my experience as a novice. My first impression was that it was strong! It was of course high in alcohol, as sherries are. It had less of the almond flavor that I have experienced in the past, although on the finish, I could definitely taste a slight hint of almond. It paired amazingly with the comte cheese. I have to tell you this was truly the perfect ending to my evening.

I highly recommend if you are ever in Barcelona that you visit Bar Brutal and taste these amazing organic wines.

Bar Brutal at Carrer Princesa, 14

Born, Barcelona

Note: Bar Brutal does not open until 7pm.

[email protected]
The light, fruity red wine that I enjoyed was from Cellar Mendall.

The unusual white wine was from Cellar Credo Sant Sadurni d’Anola-Penedes Estrany 2013.

The sherry was Colosia, Manzilla.


Barcelona Wine Stores

La Cathedral Dels Vins I Caves
Pl. Ramon Berenguer El Gran 1
08002 Barcelona
Metro: Jaume I

Let John assist you in choosing a delicious wine to your liking. This wine store specializes in Catalonian wines, but they also have wines from the Ribera del Duero region of Spain and other wines from unusual places such as Mallorca.