Top Etna Rosso Wines Blind Taste Test

I think I was inspired by March Madness.  College basketball at this time of year is impossible to ignore, especially because my Alma mater ( Michigan State) is a regular contender. Except this year!!!  I was thinking to myself there are so many wines from just Etna alone how can we figure out our favorites?  Why not have a bunch of Etna Rosso wines and taste them all in the same day and directly compare to find the winners and losers?  So I started picking up all the Etna Rosso wines I could find.  I thought that at most it would be an “Elite 8”, but all of the sudden I ended up with 12 and still left a couple out!  For the test they had to be true Etna Rosso DOC meaning that they could only contain Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio grapes.  No blends with Nero d’Avola, Syrah, Cabernet, etc.

I brought out these old wine tasting party kits Continue reading “Top Etna Rosso Wines Blind Taste Test”

Patria Winery – Mount Etna Sicily

A new winery!  By new winery I mean one of the oldest wineries on Sicily, but new for us.  Now that I have you thoroughly confused lets talk about wine! haha.  Its been a while since we did a winery tour and the timing couldn’t be better.  Spring has started to show itself and we are getting sporadic sunny and 70 days.  Luckily we hit one of the good days for this tasting.  Also this time we had a good group of friends that joined us.  I randomly threw the idea out there a couple weeks ago and everyone else must have been feeling the itch as well because we ended up being 21 strong!!  Look out… 21 Americans & Sicilians climbing Mt. Etna to a winery for a fun filled wino day.  Sounds like Continue reading “Patria Winery – Mount Etna Sicily”

Palmento – A Great Book about Sicilian Wine and Culture

I forgot to talk about this book about a year ago when I read it.  I just ran across it in the house again and remembered that I had to share.   If you need an new book or know someone that has an interest in Sicilian wine or just Sicily for that matter this is a good one. 

This book is great because it not only talks about Continue reading “Palmento – A Great Book about Sicilian Wine and Culture”

West Coast Sicily Wineries – Planeta Winery & Donnafugata Winery

A trip to the West coast of Sicily has been looming over us for the past year.  It has always been on our list to explore over there, but always gets aced for something else that comes up.  The 2+ hour drive definitely has influenced our decision.  Back in August something came up that forced us to commit to a particular weekend.  That something is the annual “E’ la notte di Calici di Stelle”  at the Donnafugata winery.  That translates to “Goblets under the stars.”  Donnafugata puts this event on every year the night of San Lorenzo.  Just a blurb on this particular night:  [quote]La Notte di San Lorenzo. Every year on the night of August 10th, Italians look up at the sky to see shooting stars; more shooting stars fall than any other night of the year (in case you have your doubts, this is scientifically proven!) This holiday celebrates the martyrdom of San Lorenzo, who died on August 10th. These stars create an atmosphere of magic and hope; Italians believe that this is a night when wishes will come true. [/quote]\

It was a great experience at the “Goblets under the stars” event.  We had a pretty big group of friends join us for the event, which made it even more special.  We all gathered on the cool grass looking up at the stars and enjoyed each others company…. and the vino did flow!

We stayed a long weekend in the Sambuca di Sicilia area so that we could also go to the Planeta winery the next day.  Planeta wines are one of our favorite local wines.   They have a very wide variety of wines and all of them are high quality.  I arranged a tour, tasting, and a lunch on site.  The vineyard surrounding the winery was amazing.  The vineyard sweeps around Lake Arancio, which looks like a blue oasis.

Planeta gave us a great tour of the winery followed by a proper tasting of all the different wines Planeta offers.  Sicilians know how to do wine tastings!  The lunch that we had was also a great experience with very good food, very cool ambiance, and great company.  They set you up at a table in an old Palmento, which is an Italian word for the traditional winery where they used to stomp the grapes and bottle.  With the new wine processes the Palmentos have gone by the wayside and have been revamped into beautiful and airy meeting places.  I snapped some pictures below to try to capture the vibe.

This weekend was Bellissima!!  If you get the chance definitely try these places out.

For more info on Planeta:

For more info on Donnafugata Winery:



COS Winery Sicily

Some friends of ours were nice enough to invite us to a little weekend at a winery about an hour and a half south of where we live.  COS winery is one of Sicily’s most renowned wine makers.  But in typical Sicilian fashion we weren’t going to just taste some wines for an hour and then move onto the next winery,  we were setup to have a large lunch to accompany our tastings.  We also decided to stay the night at the winery itself, which was a very cool experience.

The guy running the show at COS is Pino.  He is a great host and was a former chef at a Sicilian restaurant in Germany.  He was at  that restaurant over 15 years.  Being able to have a Sicilian restaurant that long in Germany is a feat in itself.  Now he is enjoying a semi retirement in his homeland.  The meal that he prepared for us was amazing.

We had a group of almost 20 people.  The setting of the meal was in an old storehouse/winery that was renovated, but still carried the old world charm.  The kitchen was one that  I would kill for.  The meal/wine cost €35 per person and the rooms were €90, which included a great Sicilian breakfast.  We also went on a tour of the winery and Pino explained all the intricacies of COS wine.  All in all it is a great little getaway option.

I am really enjoying the Sicilian version of wine tasting.  It is very relaxed and usually includes a great meal, which just makes the wine ‘pop’.  I never realized how much wine tasting in the States feels like a cattle call.  The piling into party buses going from winery to winery forcing through the crowds to get a lame sip of wine and some stale crackers.  I really think if stateside wineries would go this route they would open up a whole new world of business.  COS has got it right… this is how wine was meant to be experienced.

Link to COS:


Murgo Winery

The weather in Sicily is perfect right now.  The island is turning green very quickly with all of the vegetation starting to grow.  Also it is too early in the year for the tourists to start their occupation of Sicily.  With all this in mind, Jess and I really wanted to explore and find a new winery.  We heard of a winery that was pretty close to where we live.  We tried to organize a little group to share in the experience, but it turned into an episode of herding cats. 🙂 .  So we decided to just fly solo and serve as the guinea pigs for the group.  Luckily we were greeted very warmly at Murgo winery and just in time for a tour of the winery and wine tasting.

Our tour guide was the owners daughter (Agnese) and she spoke perfect English!  As we toured the winery she explained all of the different processes involved from grape to glass.   She also told us about the family history and traditions that have evolved with the winery.  The winery itself is very developed and outputs 9 wines and 3 sparkling wines.  The process for creating the sparkling wine was especially interesting and made me appreciate how much work goes into each bottle.

After the tour we started the wine tasting.  We were lucky in our timing because we were the only people at the winery during our tour and tasting.  This made for a very intimate experience and “El vino” did flow as we sampled 2 sparklings and 8 wines.  We also sampled the olive oils that they produce.  All the wine was delicious.  I think that after a tour showing the process the wine just tastes better..ha.  We did however find our favorites out of the bunch.

Thanks to Murgo Winery and Agnese for giving us a great Sicilian wine experience.   We will be back!

Murgo Website:

Murgo Address:  Via Zafferana, 13, 95010 Santa Venerina Catania, Italy

Click the first picture below for the slideshow. Unfortunately my iphone died towards the end of the wine tasting and I missed out on some pics.

Taormina and Gambino Winery


We took a trip that included the town of Taormina and a nearby winery, Gambino Winery.  We have heard nothing but good things about Taormina from several people so we were looking forward to seeing it ourselves.  Taormina is about 20 minutes north of where we live.  Below are a some photos to give you a feel of the setting.

Taormina with Mt. Etna in the background


Aerial pic of Taormina showing the cliffsides that helped protect the city from numerous attacks
Isola Bella right below Taormina
Main square in Taormina
After touring Taormina we both felt as though it is the “La Jolla” of the Catania Sicily area.  Very clean, picturesque, and expensive.  It was easy to see why Taormina is the most popular tourist destination in Sicily.  I have more pictures that I will put into the flickr photo account that you can access from the homepage.
After Taormina we went onto Gambino winery for some wine tasting and lunch.
HUGE table setup for wine tasting
Great cheeses and salami. My favorite was the smoked ricotta (the bottom cheese in the pic) and the pecorino (the left cheese)
Gambino Winery wine tasting. Great location with great view.


The wines were very good and we ended up buying a few bottles of our favorites.  Our favorites were 2 reds Alicante and Cantari (Nero d’avola grape).  There is more info on the Gambino website and you can even order their wine online:
Taormina hitchhikers
It was a great trip.  We met some nice people and sampled a great variety of the wines offered in Sicily… what more can you ask?  We will definitely be coming back to Taormina and Gambino Winery.  Its great that they are both relatively close to where we are living here in Sicily.
Here are more pictures from our other camera: