The Resurgence of Rosé

     Rosé wines are often sneered at by wine snobs, but many people find their crispness and lightness very refreshing, particularly in hot weather or with spicy foods. Used to be, rosés were boring by-products of making red wine, or even mixes of red and white wines — the red-headed stepchild of wines, so to speak. Today’s rosés are designed from start to finish to be rosés and can be complex with loads of character. Continue reading

Pinot Gris or Grigio

Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are different names for the same grape varietal that produces white wines with white fruit and floral aromas and flavors. “Gris” is French for “gray,” and “grigio” is Italian for gray. However, on the vine the grape can be dusty pink, bluish gray or green. This can sometimes lend a pinkish tinge Continue reading

Chicken Cacciatore

1 lb. spaghetti
4 chicken thighs, with skin
2 chicken breasts, with skin
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup flour
4 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. butter
1 medium onion, sliced in thick slices
2 bell peppers, any color, sliced in thick slices
4 cloves garlic
8 oz. mushrooms, quartered
3 Tbsp. capers
1 tsp. dried oregano
Red pepper flakes
½ cup white wine
½ cup chicken broth
28 oz. diced tomatoes with juice
Italian parsley, chopped, about 2 Tbsp.
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to directions and set aside. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour to coat lightly.

In a large heavy saute pan, heat the olive oil and butter over a medium-high flame. Add the chicken pieces to the pan, skin side down, and saute just until brown, about 5 minutes per side. If all the chicken does not fit in the pan, saute it in 2 batches. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.

Drain off half the fat. Add the bell pepper, onion and garlic and saute over medium heat until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, stir and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice, broth, capers oregano and pepper flakes. Return the chicken  to the pan. Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium-low heat until the chicken is just cooked through, about 30 minutes for the breast pieces and 20 minutes for the thighs.

Transfer the chicken to a platter. If necessary, boil the sauce until it thickens slightly. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, then sprinkle with the parsley and serve over pasta.

Chicken Cacciatore and Sangiovese

wine club

I love Italian food, and I especially like it when it’s easy to make. And the more rustic the better. Chicken cacciatore is one of those recipes that’s been around so long, the origins of its name are no longer well-understood. In Italian, “cacciatore” refers to “hunter-style.” The question is, however, was it dreamed up because this is what the wife made when the husband came back from a hunting trip empty-handed? After all, he wasn’t hunting chickens, I don’t imagine.

In any case, most variations include peppers, onions and tomatoes, herbs and wine, and braised chicken. Some recipes call for mushrooms and capers, so since I like both, I add them. You can cook it stovetop or finish it the oven. My guy wasn’t out hunting the day I made it, but fortunately we were able to procure some chicken thighs and breasts from Winn-Dixie, which is easier than heading out to the barn.


For a fail-safe match choose an Italian sangiovese. A Tuscan Chianti Classico such as Tenuta di Arceno works perfectly. The 2010 is about $20, rich with fresh, ripe fruit and acidic enough to stand up to the tomatoes and hearty veggies. Classico is a sub-region of Chianti, and wines must be 80% sangiovese to be categorized as Classico. The Tenuta is blended with merlot and cabernet sauvignon.

CORKCICLE, 2011 Gift of the Year, $22.95