Hello Outdoorsy friends! Last Friday I was afforded an awesome opportunity via my affiliation with Tampa Bay Bloggers and courtesy of Whole Foods Market to attend a Wines of Italy class at Whole Foods Market, Carrollwood. They already have that tasty buffet of deliciousness in the cafe and I get lots of natural hair and skin products from there, but I had not actually purchased or sampled their wine. How that’s even possible is beyond me because I love wine. After attending this WFM class, that certainly won’t be the case anymore!
I arrived a bit early, so I meandered over to the wine section to look at what varieties were offered. They really do have pretty much everything. I sampled a particularly tasty Spanish Carchelo red blend accompanied with drunken goat cheese. How can you not love something named drunken goat cheese? This was a nice soft, creamy cheese with a deep purple rind. The funky name and unusual rind color come from the fact that the cheese had been soaked in Carchelo wine. It was just as yummy as it sounds, I promise.
After a successful pregame with other waiting class attendees, it was finally time for the class to begin. Our tables were set with 1 sparkling, 3 whites, and 5 reds. There was also a beautiful cheese pallet to pair with our wines. I love wine, but I’m not an expert by any stretch. Nor am I an etiquette queen. I was so busy trying to get pics of the spread and make sure I took good notes that I wasn’t paying attention to what everyone else around me was doing when we started our tasting. I committed a teeny tiny baby faux pas, although I’m not sure if anyone noticed. We were given one empty wine glass and the other wines were pre-poured into plastic cups. I didn’t realize we were supposed to pour the wine from the plastic cup into the wine glass. I knew better; I mean you don’t usually have wine from a plastic cup, but I had always been given multiple glasses at other tastings. It just didn’t register until about the 2nd glass when it clicked that something didn’t feel right and I realized I was the only idiot sipping from the plastic cup. Chalk it up as yet another misadventure for Lauren! It always happens to me no matter how bourgeoisie I think I am or try to be. All I could do was chuckle to myself and hope the people behind me didn’t think I was a hillbilly!
Our wine aficionado for the evening was Amy and the cheese expert was Heather. Amy did a oustanding job of giving us history on the various regions of Italy that the wines came from as well as the stringent rules and regulations behind what wines can be produced and how they are named. I was especially impressed by the variety of cheese pairings that Heather selected. There was an array of very different cheeses, at least very different for my Southern Girl pallet. My favorite new taste of the evening was hands down the Montchevre goat cheese with preserved lemon and vanilla sugar on a rustic bakery sea salt sourdough cracker. It was a mouthful to say and a mouthful of flavor! It was pretty fantastic the way the cheese and the lemon and the sugar and salt all had a party in my mouth. This was paired very well with the Principessa Gavia Gavi wine. Unfortunately the cheese was something created for the tasting and not something we could purchase already pre-made.
Here’s a brief synopsis of all of the wines and accompanying cheese pairings:
- Presto Prosecco (sparkling) – I brought a bottle of this one home with me! Amy suggested pear nectar….can’t wait to try that!
- Banfi Principessa Gavia (white) – Montchevre goat cheese with preserved lemon and vanilla sugar
- Caposaldo Pinot Grigio (white) – Italian pincho (fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, fresh basil)
- Ruffino Orvieto Classico (white)- Mediterranean feta stuffed tomato
- Gran Passione Rosso (red) – Taleggio rolled in fried marcona almond pieces
- Monrosso Chianti (red) – Parmigiano reggiano (aged minimum of 24 months)
- Verrazzano Minituscan Rosso (red) – Pecorino Toscano cheese with a Sicilian herb olive and soppressata
- Donafugata Sedára (red) – Barricato Al Pepe (Italian cheese with pepper) **very good red
- Tolaini Al Passo also known as “Great Big Drunk” (red) – Ubriacone (raw cow’s milk cheese with red wine)
This really was a fun and educational evening. I learned something new and I tried new foods and wines. I’m all about gaining new experiences and there’s no better way to do that than expanding your food culture beyond your normal boundaries. It doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg and you don’t need to be the type that sips your tea with your pinky up. You can have a new adventure in your own neighborhood for just a few dollars! How awesome is that? You may not be able to hop on a jet to Italy tomorrow ,but you can certainly drink like a jetsetter at the next WFM wine tasting class.
I’ve got a couple of new things to share with you this week. I’ve talked about food and drink in a few of my posts but it really does need its own category. Everybody give a warm welcome to Foodie Adventures, the newest category in the Kayaks, Canoes, and Shoes: Misadventures of an Outdoorsy Diva blog!
I’m also happy to present Outdoorsy Diva’s very first sponsored GIVEAWAY courtesy of Whole Foods Market Carrollwood!!!! I have one $20 gift card for Whole Foods Market up for grabs for one of my lucky readers. Contest ends at 11:59 pm on Saturday, May 3rd so don’t delay. This contest is open to US residents only.
Enter today: Outdoorsy Diva WFM Giveaway
Lauren G. – Outdoorsy Diva