Entries from October 2008 ↓

Valpolicella without label

The people who live in a wine region are very lucky, because it is possible to buy wine, Valpolicella wine in our case, without label, without marketing but however good. Twice a year I make a wine tour with my friends and the goal is to discover a small or new producer who produces Valpolicella selling it also without label. We taste the wine and if we like it, we take it. Essentially, the difference is in the presentation: with a label the bottle looks better, but if we forget this small detail, we find in our glasses the same wine, with the same colour and the same smell. Furthermore, we have an economic saving.

Valpolicella Wine

Yes I know, for the experts this could seem a bad thing, but I appreciate first of all the wine…not only its packaging.


Mantua (Mantova) is a small city not far from Verona and a jewel of Northern Italy.
It is located in the Lombardy region, at the border between Veneto and Lombardy.
Mantua had its golden period in the Renaissance, when it was ruled by the powerful Gonzaga family. It became not only strategic in the European political asset of that period, but also important for art and architecture. Andrea Mantegna, Leon Battista Alberti and Giulio Romano are some of the names that gave a great contribution to the development of Mantua, with buildings, churches and masterpieces.
Thanks also to accurate renovation, we can still admire the magnificent Palazzo Ducale, that was the residence of the Gonzaga and which wonderful shape welcomes us when entering Mantua.

The three lakes surrounding Mantua, give to this small city a quite and elegant charme.
This charme is confimed also by all other ancient palazzos and churches that can be discovered while walking through the center. The real pleasure of a walk in Mantua is getting lost in the small streets and squares, enjoying also the old historic cafés and restaurants, the chic boutiques and the friendly people.

Valpolicella wines and region map

Valpolicella is the main wine of our region. We are very lucky to live here, nearby vineyards of Molinara, Corvina and Rondinella. These are the grapes that blended togheter make not only Valpolicella but also other important wines as Amarone, Recioto and Bardolino.
The last 50 years were very important for our wines. Good entrepreneurs, quality and many varieties of wines together with a good marketing are the recipe of this success. In fact, Valpolicella today is known in many countries in the world.
There are many kinds of wines produced in the Valpolicella region. The most important is Amarone, the others are Valpolicella classico, Valpolicella Superiore and Recioto, a sweet wine.
Below you can see the map of Valpolicella. It is extended from North-West to the Eastern part of Verona. The “Valpolicella Classico” denomination is only in the North-West part as indicated in the map.

Visualizzazione ingrandita della mappa

There are many producers of Valpolicella and in the next months we’ll present you some of them.

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Pumpkin risotto

Risotto is a typical rice recipe of northern Italy. There are different ways to prepare it and you can make it with any kind of ingredient, from vegetables to meat.
Some time ago we were given a pumpkin and eventually we decided to open it and to cook it.
It was beautiful and ripe, and very big…
I used a part of it to make a delicious soup and the other part to make risotto. This is how I cooked it:
I warmed up olive oil in a large pan, then added onions, leek and one potato, all chopped, leaving them on small fire.
I cut in very thin slices the pumpkin (that had been emptied and cleaned before) and added it to the rest, covering then all those vegetables with water. I added salt, pepper and chopped parley and covered the pan leaving on small fire, stirring regularly.
After about 20 minutes some water had been absorbed and the pumpkin was soft enough. So I added the Vialone Nano rice, which is the best variety for risotto, with its short and round grains. I must say that my favourite rice is from Melotti, an historical producer from the countryside located South of Verona, a very good area for rice since centuries.
For the quantity, we usually measure one cup of rice per person.
After adding the rice, you need to stir frequently and sometimes add water, because rice absorbs a lot of liquid. A good vialone nano rice quality usually takes 15 minutes to cook, sometimes even 20. The only way to know if it’ ready is to taste it…

Illy tastes rice

When you see that it’s almost ready (the grain is getting soft outside but still a little bit hard inside), stop adding water. A good risotto must not be too dry, nor too liquid. It must appear smooth and creamy.
At this moment, I turn off the fire, add a small quantity of butter and a cup of grated Parmigiano cheese. I cover the pan for about five minutes.
Now the risotto is creamy and thick and ready to be served!

pumpkin rice