Celebrating National Wine and Cheese Day the Italian Veggie Way


When Que Syrah Sue and I heard that July 25 is National Wine and Cheese Day, we immediately thought of Italian food!

What goes better with a cheesy pizza or lasagna than a nice red wine like a Chianti or Nero d’Avola? Or a Grillo or Grechetto with a green salad spiced up with cheese? And what about dessert? Tiramisu and cannoli with a Muscato, anyone? And we can’t forget Prosecco! 

As we talked and Sue, who is half Italian, developed the menu for an Italian wine dinner focused on cheese, we then decided to go vegetarian. Who needs meat when you’re having this much cheese?

Our Italian cheeses for National Wine and Cheese Day Mon. July 25, 2016:

creamy Toscana with black pepper, formaggio lagorai, Italian truffle cheese, pecorino Romano, fresh mozzarella, parmigiana regianno, mozzarella ricotta, marcapone

Our Italian wines for National Wine and Cheese Day Mon. July 25, 2016:

Prosecco, Grillo, Grechetto, Nero D’Avola, Chianti, Muscato, Passito




  • creamy Toscana with black pepper
  • formaggio lagorai
  • Italian truffle cheese
  • pecorino Romano
  • goat cheese with oven dried organic tomatoes and garlic
  • olives, crackers, and ciabbata


  • Caprese salad (fresh picked tomato, fresh mozzarella, arugula, basil, EVOO, balsamic)
  • Caesar salad (parmigiana regianno, egg, anchovies, fresh lemon)


  • Margherita Pesto Pizza (mozzarella, fresh picked tomato and basil)
  • White Pizza (garlic, EVOO, mozzarella)
  • Oven Roasted Tomato Pesto Pizza (mozzarella)
  • Lasagna (fresh picked tomato and other garden vegetables, vegetarian Italian sausage, mozzarella, ricotta)


  • Tiramisu (ricotta, mascarpone)
  • Canolli (ricotta, mascarpone)



Mionetto – Prosecco DOC Treviso – Brut – 11% alc

This is not a wimpy Prosecco, but one with lots of flavor and character. In addition to fruit like golden delicious apples and plentiful florals,  there is a flinty quality on the nose and minerals on the palette. Still, we were surprised at how beautifully this very dry Prosecco went with the oven dried tomatoes with goat cheese. We could also see pairing strawberry pie or fruit tart with a little bit of creaminess, but we didn’t like it with the desserts we had. We did enjoy it with the salads and the oven dried tomato pesto pizza.

Because of a heat wave, it was hard to keep cold and while it is not bad on the warmer side, it is oh so much better colder! We should have kept it in an ice bucket.


Smells like proseco, tastes like prosecco: for a prosecco it is really quite nice. Perfect for a summery evening in a hammock! This wine is easy to find at many major supermarkets and liquor stores; find it near you on 1000 Corks. Consider keeping a bottle around as a great mixer for cocktails; think a splash of St Germain. NOTE: I received mine as a sample.

MandraRossa – Grillo – Costa Dune – Sicilia DOC – 2015 – 12.5% alc under $10


Palm Bay of Boca Raton Fl. is the importer of this great wine for under $10. In contrast to the Mionetto Prosecco, the challenge will be finding this wine; several searches led Sue to many pages written in Italian!

Grillo is my new favorite white wine!

Very fruity on the nose and in the mouth, this Grillo went great with our oven roasted tomato and garlic over goat cheese on a baguette. Great without food. Nice cocktail wine or beginning of the evening wine. Would be a nice palette cleanser.

On the nose, plenty of floral notes of jasmine and honeysuckle. On the palate, nice acidity with citrus and white peach or nectarine, crisp and clean.

Grillo is soon becoming our favorite Italian white wine–great flavor for a great price! Look for it! Note: I received this wine as a sample for review consideration.

Arnaldo Caprai -Grecante – Colli Martani – Grechetto – 2015 – 13.5% alc. under $20


We found this Grechetto to be very Chablis like, an inexpensive Chablis. It would be good with oysters, or scallops, maybe even linguine with clam sauce, but not a heavy cream sauce. There is a lot of minerality in it, and as soon as I started tasting this wine, I started talking about food.

What food would go well with this wine? I loved considering the possibilities.

While some people might find this to be a cocktail wine, we definitely preferred it with food, and further, it needs a big glass to experience the nose. On the nose we can get oak, more fruit than floral, white stone fruit and apple.  As it opens up in the glass it moves more toward the peach and less of the apple in the nose.


Pineapple Helen would like this wine because it is has some body to it. It can stand up to more. The truffle cheese went well with this wine. This wine is so much better with food. If you like some oak in your Chardonnay you will like this wine. There is a little bit of kiwi on the palette as well as nectarine. It can handle strong garlic tastes, and I loved it with the caesars salad.

This may have been my first Grechetto but it won’t be the last by a long shot! In Week 5 of the next installment of #WineStudio, on August 30 from 6-7pm PST we will taste three wines including a Castello di Magione 2013 Monterone Grechetto Colli del Trasimeno DOC

Note: I received this wine as a sample for my review consideration.

Cusumano – Nero D’Avola – Terre Siciliane IGT – 2014 – 14% alc. under $15


I wrote about this wine here. We weren’t really planning on opening this wine, but Sue had a bottle at her house and it was wine thirty and I hadn’t arrived yet with the other wines! It pairs beautifully with almost everything. This is s super great food wine– it’s light, accessible, fruit forward, no oak, affordable. We both received this wine as a gift following a Cusumano dinner that featured pairings of four different pizzas with four of their wines. I suspect that that dinner influenced our decision to do this meal! Read more about Cusumano here and watch for it in the US with its distinct leak proof glass closure–definitely my new favorite way to close a bottle!

Frescobaldi Nipozzano – Vecchie Viti – Chianti Rufina Riserva – 2012 – 14% alc. under $30


NOSE: Leather and cigar, vanilla, cherry, smells nice, balanced. It is inviting; there is a bit of alcohol but not overwhelming. Bright fresh cherries, summer cherries, ripe right off the tree.

There’s a tannic mouthfeel in front of the palette between the gums and the teeth, but it is not unpleasant, there is a lot of structure to go with a lot of fruit.

This is not a cocktail wine for us: goes well with food, big bold flavors to go with a big bold wine. Awesome with the pizza and lasagne!

Redolent in life, it feels very alive. It is not super rich or heavy but feels really alive., really flavorful.

This is true to what a chianti is. It is a pasta wine.

Last fall, we tasted four Frescobaldi wines during a twitter tasting. We loved them all. Learn more about Frescobaldi wine here. Note: I received this wine as a sample for my review consideration. You can find Frescobaldi Nipozzano – Vecchie Viti – Chianti Rufina Riserva – 2012 near you using 1000corks.com.

Ipsus – Pantelleria – Passito V.L.Q.P.R.D. – 2014- 15% alcohol


The back of the bottle reads: “Passito comes from the charming island of Pantelleria situated in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea between Africa and Sicily. It is made with Moscato grapes and has an extremely fruity bouquet with hints of apricot and raisins ideal for any kind of dessert.” Fascinating!

Plenty of acidity to balance the sweetness and to cut through the creamy, not too sweet Tiramisu and cannoli.

IMG_7704 (1)

Note: Sue bought this split of wine for under $10 at Trader Joe’s. And I will be buying some for myself next time I go!


The recipe for the lasagne came from an April/May issue of Eating Well magazine 2005. The desserts were an interpretation of several recipes that Sue studied first and then did her own thing based on her reading and personal experience.

Sue’s oven dried tomatoes with garlic and olive oil:

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Half tomatoes and lay them face up on the baking sheet. Salt and pepper to taste and drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 300 degrees for about 2 hours. Just before you take them out of the oven chop 2 to 3 cloves of garlic and place in a bowl. Remove tomatoes from the oven and add to bowl of garlic. Add a bit more olive oil and stir. Cool in refrigerator. Place over fresh goat cheese and serve with sliced baguette.

Want to learn more about Italian wine–and foods to pair? Join us as we explore

“Undiscovered Italy – Drinking & Eating Our Way through Marche and Umbria!”

on #WineStudio Tuesdays in August from 6-7pm PST on Twitter using the hashtag #WineStudio; you also should follow @WinesofMarche. Each week has a different theme and often we will be tasting and discussing wine as well as food that pairs well.

Week 1: August 2 – 6-7pm PST
Welcome to Marche and Umbria, Italy

What makes Marche and Umbria special?

Week 2: August 9 – 6-7pm PST
Marche with Jonathan Zeiger and guest appearance by Timothy Hanni MW, @timhanni

In addition to tasting and discussing the three wines listed below, author Hanni will talk about his new book Why You Like the Wines You Like  which helps you answer the question “What’s your VinoType?”

  • Rio Maggio 2012 Falerio Pecorino DOC
  • Rio Maggio 2011 Rosso Piceno DOC
  • Centanni 2013 Rosso Piceno DOC

Week 3: August 16 – 6-7pm PST
Focus on Colli Ripani wines

A 1969 partnership between a handful of farmers has grown into a cooperative of over 330 small, local growers, and we will taste and discuss four of their wines:

  • Colli Ripani 2014 Trebbiano IGT
  • Colli Ripani 2014 Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOC
  • Colli Ripani 2014 Sangiovese IGT
  • Colli Ripani 2014 Rosso Piceno DOC

Week 4: August 23 – NOTE: 12PM PST / 3PM EST
With Giselle Stafford of Gusto Wine Tours, Angelo Fongoli winemaker for Fongoli Winery, and Amy Erin the  Senior VP for Massanois Imports

In order to accommodate guests from Umbria, we will discuss the region and taste this wine at an earlier time than usual:

  • Fongoli 2010 Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG

Week 5: August 30 – 6-7pm PST
Order of Malta Wines with Clay Fritz @FritzWinery and Giulia Luccioli @giulialucc

The Order of Malta – The Knights of the White Cross is an ancient religious order that provides global relief efforts to areas affected by natural disasters using funding provided by their winemaking. We will taste:

  • Castello di Magione 2013 Monterone Grechetto Colli del Trasimeno DOC
  • Castello di Magione 2014 Sangiovese Umbria
  • Castello di Magione 2008 Morcinaia Vendemmia

Thanks for going on the prowl with Wine Predator today!

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