Monthly Archives: November 2015

Bolognese + Brunello


It’s Monday. You may be revving up for NFL. I’m swooning for the “Monday night special” at Nicola’s Ristorante Italiano flanking the northeast corner of OTR.

Nicola’s Tagliatelle alla Bolognese is so popular among knowing neighbors and patrons that I hesitate to call even more attention to this fabulous experience. Every Monday night, the restaurant is packed with diners who will undoubtedly spend more on wine than on dinner for the table. This unbelievably value-priced bonanza starts with a basket of house-made and classic Italian breads and crunchy breadsticks. Carbo avoidance be damned! Next, either a fresh greens or caesar salad. And finally the moment you’ve been waiting for: a rich, soulful, mouth-watering bowl of ragu served on fresh pasta with a dusting of parmigiano grated at the table just for you. On my most recent visit, my guests enjoyed a bottle of Donatella Brunello di Montalcino 2007. But don’t get your hopes up for that particular selection — it was the last bottle of an amazing vintage in Nicola’s cellar.

Seriously, does it get better than this? Well, it does. I won’t share the price to avoid a stampede, plus Nicola must reserve the right to change it from time to time. But let’s just say you should get on over on a Monday night as soon as you can fit the date in your holiday schedule and the restaurant has room for you.

Photo credits for wine and pasta:;



Turkey Wines


Every year, without fail, I get “ask Kathy” calls from friends far and wide: what wines should I buy for Thanksgiving?

The easiest answer is to choose one (or more!) wines that you really like. There is frankly enough stress created by preparing holiday meals with many courses, setting a table to host many guests, or guessing which wine will work best with your host’s version of the Thanksgiving meal.

One definite problem-solver for our dilemma is to avoid wines that are high in oak, tannin and/or alcohol. Their flavors and textures will compete with almost all of the dishes served at a traditional American Thanksgiving meal, and may also pose challenges for cultural variations as American food traditions broaden so beautifully.

My ABD (all but dessert) global wines recommendations for 2015 are all under $20:

1.  Sparkling Cava from Spain. Prosecco would also be a great alternative. Champagnes and other traditional method sparkling wines are lovely (but typically more expensive). Serve as an aperitif to welcome your guests. Sparkling wines can also work throughout the meal as a palate cleanser for the many flavors of Thanksgiving. Vallformosa Mistinguett Brut Cava NV

2.  Dry Riesling from Australia. I often hear people say they don’t like Riesling because it is sweet. While that is the subject for another story, let’s be clear that beautiful Riesling wines can range from very dry to very sweet, and are great matches for Thanksgiving at almost any point in that range. This recommendation, however, has enough lively acidity to spark your palate and inspire a second plate of delicious food. Pewsey Vale Dry Riesling 2013

3.  Pinot Gris from Willamette Valley Oregon. With a hint of sweetness that is entirely pure fruit, Pinot Gris is an outstanding choice to cut across the flavors of any Thanksgiving meal. Although it is the same grape as Pinot Grigio, the Italian version tends to be too light for a multi-course meal with many savory elements. Seven of Hearts Pinot Gris 2014

4.  Pinot Noir from Burgundy. Most people will agree, Pinot Noir is the premier grape of choice for Thanksgiving. Keep in mind that wine pairing is contextual, looking beyond the protein to factor in condiments and accompaniments. I prefer the more savory qualities of Burgundian PN, while others may want to choose a more fruit-forward New World selection. J. Drouhin La Foret Pinot Noir 2012

5.  Red Blend from Piedmont, Italy. The bright acidity of this blend of Dolcetto, Barbera and Nebbiolo grapes is sure to please every palate throughout the Thanksgiving meal. The lush tannins of this “drink now” wine are very food friendly. G. D. Vajra Langhe Rosso 2012

All of these wines are available from The Wine Merchant, 3972 Edwards Rd., Cincinnati OH 45209. (513) 731-1515.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Photo courtesy of