This day was dedicated to the beautiful country side of Tuscany. I reserved a wine tasting at Castello di Verrazzano in Greve. It was called “The Wine and Food Experience” – a tour of the winery and a 5 course meal with wine pairings for each.
The drive to the winery was great, just breathtakingly beautiful. And Randy loved driving the winding country roads.
Panzano – according to guidebooks, the prettiest view in Tuscany. I think I agree.
The Castle of Verrazzano is located on a hilltop in the Chianti Classico area, the first grape growing and wine producing area in the world, according to the grand Duke Cosimo III de’ Medici in 1716. Giovanni da Verrazzano, celebrated navigator and discoverer of the bay of New York and the majority of the east coast of America, was born here in 1485. The famous bridge in New York was named after him in 1964.
Meet Gino; our tour guide for the afternoon. Gino has been working here practically his entire life. He grew up on the grounds and is now the most popular tour guide at Castello di Verrazzano. He was very charismatic and charming.
He gave long speeches about how we would not tell him about wine but he would tell us about his wine. 🙂 It was important to him that we understood how important wine is in the Italian culture. Wine isn’t a drink to be graded or tested. Wine is meant to be enjoyed, to be savored, to be shared.
“Wine with food, food with wine.”
Gino guided us through the winery and the castle.
The view was spectacular! I could sit here all day looking at this view with a glass wine. Talk about heaven!
In this room the grapes are being obviously dried. These grapes here are dried then pressed to make their Vin Santo. Vin Santo is a finishing wine that Italians consume at the end of their meal. Usually they soak a biscotti cookie in the Vin Santo. It is a very tasty dessert.
You can tell who was the photographer on this trip!
See the glass bottles on top of the barrels? These bottles were invented by Leonard da Vinci. I know, right? They were designed to vent gas in the barrels while keeping outside elements for coming in. Isn’t it so cool that they are still using Leonard da Vinci’s invention? Hold still my little nerd heart!
Here is where their OMG Balsamic Vinegar is made. It takes over two years to make this balsamic. The reason why it is called OMG Balsamic Vinegar is because a lady who came to visit the winery, tasted this balsamic and kept saying, “Oh My God! Oh My God! Honey, buy me some of this balsamic.” So the husband went to the counter and said,” I’ll take a couple of bottles of the balsamic.” The cashier said, “Ok, but do you see how much it is?” The husband looks at the price then exclaims, “Oh my God!” 🙂
After the tour we were then taken to the restaurant. This was my most favorite room. The walls were nothing but huge windows and doors that lead out to their wrap around patio with a panoramic view of Tuscany and their vineyard. On the opposite wall is a huge wood burning fireplace, which was lit when we arrived.
Here we enjoyed the 5 course meal with wine pairings for each. The food here was absolutely delicious! I loved everything we had!
First, was meat and bread – ham, wild boar salmi, head cheese and crostini with lard.
Second, was homemade pasta with sauce and herbs.
Third, was grilled sausages, roasted pork, salad and white beans.
Fourth, was percorino cheese and a small teaspoon of “OMG Balsamic Vinegar”. To eat this, they instructed us to take a bite of cheese, chew it up a little bit, then take a small amount of the balsamic. It really was an OMG moment!
Fifth, our last course, was vin santo with biscotti cookies. Vin santo tasted like a sweet, strong wine. I don’t think I could drink it by itself, but with a cookie, it was pretty awesome! Also, in this course, was espresso and a shot of grappa. Grappa (for those of you who don’t know) is basically moonshine made from grapes. This stuff was very strong. Wow! Some Italians put their grappa into their espressos.
This tour and tasting is suppose to last 3 hours. We were there for 4.5 hours! We just could not drive home after drinking 5 glasses of wine, vin santo and grappa! I think everyone at our table was like us too! So we stayed and talked to everyone.
The gentleman who sat across from Randy and I was named Doug. He is an American but has been living in Tuscany for 12 years with his family. His wife is in real estate, so we got her card. You never know when you might need something like that! 🙂
Love this view!
To settle up our bill for the tour they lead you to the gift shop – very strategic if you ask me. You drink a lot wine, eat good food, have a good time then you go to their shop and buy wine! It worked! We brought back two bottles of wine! But it was worth it. Their wine was fantastic and the memories we made are priceless. Now we have a piece of our time there at home!
As you leave the property there is a perfect turn off with the best view of the castle and winery. Our last view of the castle 🙁 I hope we return some day!
I highly suggest going to this winery and doing their “Wine and Food Experience”. That is what you are getting, an experience. We learned so much about Italian culture here – how wine is a very important part of their culture and their lifestyle.
Like Gino said, “The wine should never miss the table.”