Monday, October 28, 2013

2013 New York Wine & Food Festival: An Afternoon with Barbara Lynch and Anthony Giglio

When we were invited as press to attend a lunchtime wine pairing seminar at the 2013 New York Wine & Food Festival, we were thrilled to see Anthony Giglio on the ticket. We remembered the 2011 NYWFF seminar led by Giglio which kept us talking for days. See, Giglio takes pride is making wine accessible to everyone. We were new in this business back then, but we remembered thinking, "hey, he's doing what we're trying to do" -- and we felt like kindred spirits for it. He's also pretty funny.

This year, Giglio teamed up with James Beard Award-Winner Barbara Lynch, who owns several Boston restaurants that are collectively known as Gruppo. She and Giglio worked together to come up with a menu of scrumptious tastes to pair with 4 Southern Italian wines.

For anyone who attends a Giglio wine-tasting seminar, you are guaranteed to walk away with ready-to-use tools for your next wine selection. His "3-sip rule" is not necessarily revolutionary but, for us, it's a new way of thinking about wine. In the same way we encourage people to "just try it" when it comes to food, Giglio is right to point out that it often takes a few sips before you can completely appreciate a wine. If, after the 3rd sip, you're still not convinced, so be it. But at least you tried.

Learning about how to assess the color of a wine.
The menu was delectable. A focaccia with tomatoes, eggplant, and potatoes that was paired with a white "Fiano" wine from the Avellino wine region. There was a brightness to the wine but a hint of bitter, as well. Then, a Burrata with white truffle paired with a red "Primitivo" from Layer Cake. This was followed by a special treat of Fois Gras that was a "bonus" taste before we moved onto a white orcchiette pasta with fava beans and black olives paired with a red "Negroamaro" wine and a gnocchi with escarole and anchovy filling paired with a white "Greco di Tufa" grape from Campania.

All the wines were "interesting" in that they had complexities that I didn't expect and were offerings we probably wouldn't normally sample. Giglio selected wines at very reasonable price points--the most expensive, the Negroamaro, retails at $32--and wines that would be easy to find. He explained that even if you couldn't find any of these specific wines in a wine shop, they are common enough grapes that any decent wine shop could help find a similar substitute if asked. The only criticism I have for his wine choices is his inclusion of the Layer Cake Primitivo. Yes, the grapes were sourced from Puglia, but for some reason, I consider it a stretch to call this a wine "from Southern Italy."

The NYWFF wine pairing seminars are a great way to sample fine wine and cuisine while adding to your wine appreciation toolbox. My takeaway? I had no idea Primitivo has similarities to Zinfandel. That gives me one more nugget of information to help me decipher the next wine menu I come across.

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