Tag Archives: Eataly Chicago

Eataly hosts Piemonte Italian red wines

Prunotto rd wines at Eataly
Prunotto rd wines at Eataly

Eataly Chicago is dedicated to providing a full schedule of educational programs around food and wine. A recent event featured wines by Prunotto, the Antinori family’s picturesque wine estate among the Langhe hills of the Piemonte region of Italy (located in the southern section of the cuff of the Italian boot-shaped land mass).

Signor Emanuele Baldi, representing the brand, said Prunotto made the Italian wine map after the Antinori family, with 600 years of wine-making fame in Tuscany and Umbria, turned its attention to Piemonte (aka/Piedmont). He presented a small array of tannic reds from the area: Barbera, Barbaresco, and Barolo, all paired with complimentary dishes from the chef at Eataly’s cucina.

First course, served with the Barbera and the Barbaresco wines was Vitello tonnato—melt-in-your-mouth-tender, palest-pink poached veal with a smooth, creamy tuna and caper sauce—delightful, light and piquant with a drizzle of fresh lemon to set it off. The second course consisted of a platter of salumi and formaggi, tidbits of succulent preserved meats and rich, smooth cheeses also from the

Buttery truffled noodles at Eataly
Buttery truffled noodles at Eataly

Piemonte region.  He pointed out that eating any blue cheese with tannic wines is always problematical; the only cheese, he said, that can reliably go with almost any wine is classic Parmigiano. The third course was a beautiful nest of egg-rich noodles covered in a butter sauce perfumed with white truffle essence. Delicious.

The Barbera Pian Romualdo D’alba DOC 2012 with a ruby a color was representative of the high acidity of this variety of grapes as grown here in clay soils layered with sand and seashells. Here, these grapes  tend to produce wines that are fresh-tasting with more fruit and more acidity. This particular wine improved with time after opening, gradually smoothing out some of what many Americans would perceive as sharpness.

The two Barbaresco wines, both DOCG appellations (the highest designation in Italian winemaking), included Prunotto Barbaresco 2011 and Prunotto Bric Turot 2008. Each had a beautiful garnet color which he said they would always have, no matter how long you age them. They show more delicate floral than fruit and are considered more feminine and are made with Nebbiolo grapes,  grown only in Piemonte. Wines made with Nebbiolo grapes show elegance and finesse similar to what Americans find in Pinot Noir varietals. Good with pasta, stewed meat, roast duck and others.

The two Barolo wines, both also DOCG appellations, included Prunotto Barolo Classic 2009, and Prunotto Bassia Barolo 2008. These two, also made with Nebbiolo grapes, were the deepest and richest wines of the evening. The presenter described them as more muscular, with higher tannins and greater structure, not unlike Cabernet Sauvignon wines from America. Excellent paired with the rich, buttery noodle dish. Each of these is a perfect companion to a variety of salumi, meats and cheeses.

Eataly-Prunotto vino e pane e olio
Eataly-Prunotto vino e pane e olio

It was a pleasure to hear the presenter give a famous Italian maxim, “The best wine is the one whose bottle is empty first.” So, if you’re one who says,  “Hey, I just know what I like,” that means your opinion matters as much as any expert’s.

By the way, their website is surprisingly easy to use. For more information, visit the Prunotto website.

Eataly lets you taste your olive oil before you buy

English: Olives in olive oil.
English: Olives in olive oil. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Making olive oil is an intense labor of love in Italy. Some even call their olive oils their children. So how are we mere-mortal, non-olive-oil-making folks to know what to buy?

The selection at all-things-Italian Eataly, 43 E. Ohio is, as they say, humongous. Happily, Eataly has an on-site oliologist (olive oil expert) who knows her way around – and will gladly show you your way around, too. Which means, you get to have a private tasting before you buy. A few more quick tips from Gabriella Gentile, Guest Relations Supervisor and Olive Oil Specialist:

You don’t need to know anything special before you taste. The olio expert will ask about the profiles of oils you think you might like, and will then select a few for you to try.

Traditionally you are advised to chew a small slice of apple (Granny Smith is good) or small piece of bread between tastings, but you’d have to bring (or buy) your own in Eataly.

Optimum numbers for a single tasting are three oils and up to five. Italy’s Northern, Central, and Southern regions each have a distinct flavor profile. Tasting three to five oils should give you a good understanding of what region and type of oil you prefer.

Olive oil from Imperia in Liguria, Italy.
Olive oil from Imperia in Liguria, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before you go and get your tasting, it might be fun to read what Eataly’s NYC oliologist has to say about choosing olive oils in this interview on SeriousEats.com. He’s the guy who trained all six olio experts in our Chicago store. The point is olive oil, just like wine, is a reflection of its terroir (where it’s grown), which olives it’s composed of, and how those olives are harvested and processed. The many varieties come with widely different tastes and aromas.

Another way to choose is to look for brands that have won awards. Veronafiere, another organization dedicated to promoting all things Italian, also gives other countries a chance to compete in the world of olive oils. They just put out the winning names of the top 9 olive oils in the Southern Hemisphere and a few honorable mentions.

So you should be ready with this background to go forth and follow your nose to a great olive oil – for cooking, drizzling or dipping. Be ready to shell out some bucks; good olive oils are not cheap. But Ms. Gentile says everyone should be able to walk out of Eataly with a bottle they love in a price range they’re comfortable with.