How to Wine Down and Chill for the Weekend

Ready to wine down and chill? Then you’ve come to the right place. Return here each Friday to find a food & wine column that’s fun to read and suggests terrific wine-movie pairings that go with the theme. You never know what’s next for our  “Wine Down for the Weekend” column. If you’d like to make a suggestion, PLEASE DO!

Read on for an easy-to-prepare-at-home no-need-for-a-recipe fabulous dinner paired with an affordable wine and a viewing suggestion. We’re here to help you sit back, wine down and chill.

It’s all about the boot

Try saying that as a Canadian … indeed, it’s always fodder for laughter at a party. 🙂

Moving along, this week’s theme is romance. I know, you’re probably thinking, “Wait, it’s June 24, not February 14, what’s wrong with this chic?” But, fret not. I’ve got this. Why should we be romantic only one day of the year? That makes no sense at all to me. With the crap weather that we’ve been having for weeks, it’s yet another perfect reason to stay inside and heat things up a notch! I mean, has anyone even seen the sun since the month began?!

And, of course, when we think of romanza, we think of the Italians. Sure, the French also know a thing or two about d’amour but we’ve covered all things Français in a prior column. Ditto for the Spanish in last week’s column in case you missed that one. Yet, somehow, we haven’t done much around Italy, save for the Prosecco column from a few months ago.

So, it’s time – viva Italia! If you want to add a little red-white-green color into your evening, here are a bunch of fun Italian expressions to practice saying tonight. One more thing. I wrote about my dad earlier this week in an ode to Father’s Day and all good dads. My dad loves Amarone wines, my Mom has been away from him visiting me for a week and their 55th wedding anniversary is next week so here we go … with a toast to their romance!

Mamma mia!

The Amarone Appellation has an interesting history. Compared to many other wines from Italy which have a rich history, Amarone didn’t appear commercially until the 1950s. And it wasn’t until 2010 that wines from the Amarone Appellation in Italy were granted DOCG status (DOCG (Denominazione d’Origine Controllata e Garantita). DOCG is exclusively reserved for only the top wines as it requires a series of complex fermentation and production processes. Along the way, some of the key wine-making Italian families fought the misuse of the Amarone distinction but finally settled their differences in 2017. Toasting with a glass of red wine, of course.

Corvina, Rondinella and often Cabernet grapes are dried for 80-120 days on straw or bamboo shelves to allow air-flow. Sometimes, massive clusters of grapes are hung from the ceiling to dry. Dehydration triggers a series of genetic changes in the grapes, which are said to never truly “die” upon plucking from a stem. This, in combination with some decomposition, imparts wonderful, unique flavors into the wine.

Eat your wine

We’re going to splurge a little this week. Nothing crazy (although that’s an option as Amarone wines do tend to be on the pricey side) but $25 is worth the investment. Besides, we’re creating a romantic Netflix-and-chill date night at home. Indeed, buying the Salvalai Amarone is money well spent. It’s a big wine with a full body and lots of intriguing aspects from its characteristic mouthfeel (your sort of want to chew it versus drink it) to its perfect dryness to its potent punch with the highest alcoholic content of any dry wine.

wine down and chillHere’s an interesting factoid. In keeping with our sub-theme of “no waste”, the grapes are used to make not one but two wines. Once Amarone wines have been fermented, the must, which is the leftover grape sludge that remains after the wine has been filtered off, is re-used. The must is fermented once more to result in Valpolicella Ripasso wines. Translated, “ripasso” literally means re-passed. More on this topic with its own wine recommendation in a future column…

Buon appetito!

Mmmm. Who doesn’t love Italian food? Pasta is a gift to the Universe! A pasta dish is the perfect complement to a wine down and chill evening.

wine down and chill in ItalyTonight, our dish is pasta puttanesca. Urban myth tags an unsavory, off-color meaning to the “puttanesca” name but its true origin hails from the practice of poor people, including the women who walked the streets at night. The practice was not the street walking, it was combining anything left over in the fridge. The result is a savory, salty, delicious dish – even if you hold the anchovies. Yuck!

Five ingredients and five steps to wine down and chill

One, select your pasta shape. This is the fun part! There are over 350 different shapes. Which is your favorite? I like fresh fettuccine or a box of De Cecco cavatappi for this dish. Boil up some water and pour yourself a large glass to wine down while you cook.

Two, crack open a large can of Hunt’s stewed tomatoes.

Three, pick your protein. Select a mild or spicy hot Italian sausage. For the vegan option, select Beyond Sausage Hot Italian by Beyond Meat. They have nailed the non-meat experience! Slice it up and fry it up in some onions, garlic and olive oil.

Four, once the sausage is cooked, add the stewed tomatoes. Then open a jar of capers and a jar of pitted kalamata olives: mix together with half the juice of each.

Five, toss with the cooked pasta. Drizzle with more olive oil and chopped fresh basil and sea salt. Garnish with parmesan. Can you taste it?!

Pour yourself another glass. It’s time to get cozy on the couch to wine down and chill.

Isn’t it Romantic?

Since we’re going to be holed up indoors taking shelter from the abysmal grey days, may as well have a little fun and romance. The perfect solution? A RomCom, of course. This movie, “Isn’t it Romantic?” is available on Amazon Prime, surprisingly got average to poor reviews. As it is with the anchovies, it’s all a matter of personal taste. Don’t let the rotten tomatoes reviews deter you. Rent it!

Rebel Wilson is in her element and really hits her stride with this movie, which, in my opinion, is her best. The yummy Liam Hemsworth has a few swoon-worthy fresh-out-of-the-shower-in-a-towel scenes. Adam Devine evokes the invisible good guy that women always seem to want but never realize it until it’s almost too late. And the stunning beauty Priyanka Chopra makes you wonder why you’re eating pasta buy hey.

Finally, it’s time to wine down and chill.

Saluti!