Niagara Gazette

Features

January 21, 2014

Tasting Italy

Niagara Gazette — Ryan Seward still remembers the chilly day he toured a small vineyard in the Piedmont region of Italy.

The young man leading the tour, Luca Roagna, was a fourth generation wine maker who knew the exact date every vine in the field had been planted. So enthusiastic about his product, he reached down and grabbed some of the dirt and asked those in the group to smell it. Later, he led his guests through a sampling of wines in a century old cave where giant oak barrels held the family’s revered and carefully created grape elixer. 

Seward, a seller of wines for Polaner’s, never forgot Luca’s passion. Throughout that tour of Italy, Ryan met many more artisan winemakers who held a reverence for their work which made him care more deeply about their wines. Two years later, he stood in at Dick and Jenny’s Restaurant on Grand Island and shared his stories of that visit with a couple dozen food and wine lovers, including me.  Holding tight to my own dreams of revisiting my grandparents’ homeland in Sicily, this night was my own personal version of heaven, featuring all the delights of mediterranean travel without hassle of packing.

The occasion was a wine tasting and Italian dinner prepared by restaurateurs Richard and Jenny Benz, called “Wines of Italy 101.” And with wine expert Ryan Seward as our tour guide, we sampled foods from throughout the country and drank wines created from small family-owned vineyards in five areas of Italy.

In the interest of full disclosure, Dick and Jenny’s on Grand Island is one of my favorite restaurants. I enjoy the imaginative, ever-changing, Louisiana influenced menu, but I am also fond of Jenny’s loyal and capable staff, overseen by Jenny herself who greets guests personally and generously shares her own extensive knowledge of wine and food. So, this commentary is plainly biased. But, as a journalist, I feel obliged to share my favorite experiences, and this was such a one. 

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Features
Featured Ads
House Ads
AP Video
Obama Hopeful on Ukraine, Will Watch Russians Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Crew Criticized Over Handling of Ferry Disaster Agreement Reached to Calm Ukraine Tensions Raw: Pope Francis Performs Pre-easter Ritual Raw: Bulgarian Monastery Dyes 5000 Easter Eggs Diplomats Reach Deal to Ease Tensions in Ukraine U.S. Sending Nonlethal Aid to Ukraine Military Holder: Americans Stand With KC Mourners Obama Greets Wounded Warriors Malaysia Plane: Ocean Floor Images 'Very Clear' Sparks Fly With Derulo and Jordin on New Album Franco Leads Star-studded Broadway Cast Raw: Two Lucky Kids Get Ride in Popemobile Boston Bombing Survivors One Year Later Sister of Slain MIT Officer Reflects on Bombing
Opinion
House Ads
Night & Day
Twitter News
Follow us on twitter
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Front page