Below are two new Instagram livestream videos to share. (Available at this site.)

The first is a Thanksgiving Instagram Livestream tasting of three Italian sparkling wines from three regions—Valdobbiadene (Prosecc), Franciacorta and Piemonte. This tasting was made with with Loes de Vreugd of Iconiclife_travel.

The second livestream covers a tasting of four additional Portuguese wines from the Douro Valley of Portugal (the first tasting was made on November 18th, and is here). These wines (a white, rosé and two reds) are from the winery Quinta de Ventozelo. Sales Director Elsa Couto joined me for the livestream to talk about the wines and the region.


This week we’ll feature three dishes—all from Tuscany in Italy—paired with three wines. Two wines are from the Douro valley of Portugal and one biodynamic wine is made by my neighbors in the Blaye—Cotes de Bordeaux appellation in France. All recipes are (again) from the cookbook Super Tuscan, by Gabriele Corcos and Debi Mazar.

1. CHEF.

Again, due to lockdown conditions and restaurants being closed, I cooked the recipes below.


The first dish is Cuscu Mediterraneo, or Couscous with Cherry Tomatoes and Olives.

The next dish is Gamberi Saltati al Lime, or Spicy Shrimp Sauté with Lime.

Finally, the dessert is Torta Sbrisolona, or Crunchy Almond Cookie-Cake.


The couscous dish paired well with a Quinta do Ventozelo rosé, made 100% from the Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo) grape. The wine includes rich, opulent aromas such as lime, kiwi fruit and strong honey. In the mouth this suave nectar includes tastes of honey, peaches and lime. Fresh and vibrant.

The spaghetti shrimp combo paired with 100% Vioshinho white wine. The Viosinho grape is known for its low yield and its ability to retain floral and mineral aromas despite hot conditions. For me the grape can be summed up has having two shining aromas and tastes: honey and citrus. Crisp and beautiful.

Dessert paired with a Cuvée Majeur from Château Peybonnehomme-Les-Tours of Blaye. This 70/20/10 blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec includes aromas and tastes of fresh fruit and spice, and is a juicy, well balanced beauty.


Pairing food and wine from the same region often works well. However, experiment and play and try different cuisines and regional vintages from different countries to learn more about tastes and pairing possibilities.

Winemaking has come a long way in just the past decade. You can now expect some excellent combinations of balance and freshness in wines that are reasonably priced, and laden with fruit and spice flavors. Try lesser known regions and appellations to find great values (and tastes).


This post includes a bonus feature—photographs by Alice Tosseyn. For six months Alice lived in our town Blaye while she did an internship at the wine store Maison de Vin. She was acquiring skills so she can eventually open up her own wine store and coffee shop in the city of Lille, in northern France.

Alice Tosseyn – photo credit: A Tosseyn

Recently Alice posted several compelling photos on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/alice_tsyn/). They were so impressive, I wanted to feature a few here (with her permission).

For each photograph I selected a wine to pair with the image. Why not? Sip, view, enjoy!

Photograph copyright ALICE TOSSEYN, 2020

The flowers and colors brought to mind a wine with lime/citric acidity and floral aromas. I would definitely select the Portuguese Douro Valley Viosinho white wine described above. Take a sip, lean back and enjoy the synesthesia of a photo and a wine evoking sensations similar to each other. Take additional sips, as necessary.

Photograph copyright ALICE TOSSEYN, 2020

These colors and vibrant energy definitely call for a sizzling Tempranillo. Let’s try a classic and beautiful red wine from the Rioja region of Spain: a 2012 CVNE Contino Grand Reserva, which is a blend of 70% Tempranillo, 15% Graciano, 12% Garnacha and 3% Viiura. This is aged in French and American oak for 36 months. Aromas of cherries, pepper, leather and vanilla, with a peppery snap in the mouth. Vibrant, rich and filled with red (fruit) and brown (leather) associations. Which, yes, pair with the photograph. Take a sip of Rioja and enjoy!

Photograph copyright ALICE TOSSEYN, 2020

This silky black and white beauty needs to match with the legendary ‘black wine of ‘Cahors’ that was supposedly served at the 12th century French wedding of Eleanor of Aquitaine. The wine was made from the Malbec grape. Today, some of the great expressions of Malbec are found not in France, but in Argentina. Choose a smooth Catena Zapata Malbec Argentino. I first tasted this at the Naples Winter Wine Festival in Florida, and was so blown away the smooth Burgundian suppleness of the taste—rather than being brashly tannic and powerful, as are many Malbecs— that I pulled out my phone and immediately contacted owner Laura Catena Zapata (we had met earlier) to tell her how delicious this juice is. Like the photograph, this wine holds your attention, includes multiple layers and is, well, beautiful.

Do yourself a favor and check out Alice’s Instagram account.

Thanks for tuning in again!

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