Wine Spectator Grand Tour 2022: $100 Off VIP Tickets

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Dates are set for Wine Spectator Grand Tour 2022:
  • Las Vegas Saturday, June 4
  • Washington, DC Friday, June 10
  • Florida Saturday, June 18
Direct Link

Reviews of past Wine Spectator Grand Tours:
It's great to see these events coming back. They're pricey but the best way I've found to develop a relatable frame of reference for many of the world's benchmark wines from important categories.

Get $100 off VIP Admission with code: CELEBRATEMOM

General Admission tickets are $275.
VIP Admission costs $375.

VIP gets you in an hour earlier than General Admission which provides a chance to try wines from the more popular tables with shorter lines.


Review: Tasting Menu w/Paired Wines at I Carracci in Bologna, Italy

Sunday, April 24, 2022

We're just back from a week in Italy, where we split time between Sorrento/the Amalfi Coast and Bologna. The Amalfi Coast was beautiful as you'd imagine but Bologna really stole the show.

Bologna and the Emilia-Romagna region probably aren't in the Top 10 tourist destinations in Italy, but perhaps that's why it's such a pleasant place to visit. It's devoid of tacky souvenir stands and shops, thriving with young professionals and students, and has a vibrant enough economy to support outstanding restaurants and international retail. 

Especially if food & wine is a focus, I think Bologna is one of the best cities in Italy to visit.

I Carracci Restaurant

There are dozens of fabulous casual al fresco dining options in Bologna serving up local specialties like Tortellini, Mortadella, and Ragu Bolognese.

For an elevated take on these classics and more, we enjoyed our meal at the I Carracci Restaurant is within the Grand Hotel Majestic gia Baglioni

It's a fine dining experirence; a bit old-school, with higher-end wines decanted by candlelight for example, but it's been a very long time since we've enjoyed a meal as much so I thought I'd write up here. Especially to remind myself which wines we tasted so I can try to find them here in the US.

Starter: Mortadella, squacquerone cheese and tigelle bread
Pairing: Cantina Paltrinieri Grosso (white Lambrusco) (wine-searcher)

We enjoyed a bunch of white Lambrusco prior to this, so it was nice to try a local sparkling white wine to get things started. Looks like their "Radice" bottling might be easeir to find than "Grosso" in the US.

[click photos to enlarge]

The dish was a fun little starter that introduced the Mortadella flavor and the delicious creamy Squacquerone cheese as well.

First Course: Tortellini in Capon Broth
Second Course: Tagliatelle with Bolognese ragù
Pairing: Vallenia Terre Rosse Emilia-Romagna Cabernet Sauvignon (wine-searcher)

I was impressed with their dedication to staying local with this delightful, well-balanced Cabernet Sauvignon from Emilia. Looks like it's not imported to the US which is a shame because I bet it's relatively affordable and outstanding with an appealing combination of pure fruit kissed with just a touch of oak influence.
This pure rendition of Tortellini en Brodo with its perfectly cooked pasta, flavorful meat filling, and complex broth was amazing and satisfying. The perfect accompaniment to a rainy evening.
The Tagliatelle with Bolognese ragù was outstanding, and probably the most carefully scrutinized dish of our trip. Sweet Basil in Needham has an amazing take on Bolognese, but the classic here in Bologna is simpler. Very meat driven. Very little sauce. Very delicous. The supporting pasta was off-the-charts perfection.

A dish we enjoyed elsewhere in Bologna and replicated upon returning home was Tortellini with Bolognese Ragu. It's hard to go wrong with any of these combinations.

Third Course: Veal cutlet Bolognese style with rosemary potatoes and friggione
Pairing: Fattoria Paradiso Vigne Delle Lepri Sangiovese Superiore Riserva (wine-searcher)

I'm sufficiently stuffed and "under the ether" of an amazing dining experience at this point, but I thought this was another winner. Eataly Boston scores points for carrying this one when very few other retailers in the US do.
Perhaps not the most Instagram-worthy entree, and I probably didn't need any more food at this point, but this was a terrific dish as well.

Dessert Course: Multiple
Pairing: Umberto Cesari Romagna Albana Passito "Colle Del Re" (wine-searcher)

Here's a fun label to decode.
Producer: Umberto Cesari
Location: Romagna Albana DOCG
Name of the Wine: Colle Del Re
Passito is a type of Italian wine made from dried grapes. This is a dessert wine, but Amarone is another example of a wine made from dried grapes that's not a dessert wine.

This wine was stunningly delicious but unfortunately hard to find in the US. Apricots and honey are backed with vibrant acidity to keep it clean. Gorgeous. Here's a link to it on the winery website. Here's a Romagna Albana Passito they have at Eataly Boston.

The tasting menu costs 95 euros per person.
Plus 60 euros per person for generous pours of four wines.
Full menu here.

Bottom Line

Bologna is an amazing destination for food & wine. I heartily recommend spending some time there, especially if you've already visited the more famous destinations in Italy.

It was so nice to sit down and enjoy an evening of fine dining, especially internationally after a long period of not traveling. The food in Italy is so regionally distinct, delicious, and approachable. I Carracci is an outstanding high-end fine dining experience.

Eataly's wine selections here in the US is impressive (they also have a location in central Bologna in addition to FICO Eataly World just outside of Bologna). Take something as simple as Lambrusco: How many do they carry at and Total Wine? Like zero decent ones combined.

For more thoughts on Bologna food & wine see this post on Instagram.
And for Bologna-area highlights including a visit to Pagani Automobili see this post.



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