Francesca's Southern Italy Wine Dinner

sunriseSummer brings amazing sunrises like this one (which is unfortunately enhanced by smoke from California’s wildfires).  Summer also brings Francesca’s Bryn Mawr’s seasonal wine dinner which is Thursday, August 3.  Focused on Southern Italy, featured wines are from Campania, Sardinia, and Puglia.

The first course of fried artichokes and crostini kicks off with Sardinia’s Pala “Silenzi” Rosé.  This bright salmon-colored wine is an equal blend of Monica (an old native grape thought to be related to California’s Mission variety) and Sangiovese grapes.  This medium-bodied wine has fresh aromas of dried herbs, raspberry, and stony minerality making it a vibrant combination with the artichoke’s herbal flavors.

Next comes the floral and tropical-fruited La Capanera Falanghina from Campania.  This white wine is remarkably lush in texture with mineral, pineapple, and citrus notes and pairs perfectly with the grilled calamari in the second course.

The third course pairs summer pasta with Pala Cannonau.  Cannonau is the name for Grenache in Sardinia and this medium-bodied wine tastes of spice, strawberry, and brambly red fruit which perfectly complements the black pepper pecorino, heirloom tomatoes, and arugula in the pasta.

The final course features the 2008 Copertino Riserva which is a Negroamaro from Puglia.  This dark, dense grape has powerful tannins and nervy acidity which have been softened by considerable aging time.  Full-bodied and robust, this wine has notes of black pepper, blackberry, tobacco, and tarry minerals.  Paired with pork tenderloin roasted in apples, potatoes, carrots, and sage, the Copertino’s fruit and herbal notes provide a harmonious match.

Wrapping up with biscotti, the G.D. Vajra Moscato d’Asti (from Piedmont, Italy) provides a refreshing liquid dessert of sorts with its light fizz, low alcohol (5.5%), and sweet flavors of yellow peach and apricot.

I’ve attended several of Francesca’s wine dinners and they are always great value for the money.  The corporate chef is typically on hand and creates unique courses not regularly on the menu.  The wines offer great opportunities to try new things and focus on areas of the world you might not have thought of.

Francesca’s wine dinners are also extremely casual and laid back, offering enough education for those that want to learn and avoiding overbearing diatribes for those that just want to eat and drink.  If you’ve never been to a wine dinner, these are perfect opportunities to dive in and get a feel for what you like.  Take advantage of the last days of summer by enjoying Southern Italy’s special wines and Francesca’s terrific food.

Pricing for the wine dinner is $65 per person plus tax and gratuity.  Please call 773.506.9261 to make reservations.  Francesca’s Bryn Mawr is located at 1039 W. Bryn Mawr in Chicago and the full menu is below:

First course:

Carciofi fritti e crostini alle olive
Fried artichokes with a garlic aioli & Crostini with olive tapenade
Wine Pairing: Pala “Silenzi” Rosé

Second course:

Calamari grigliati al limone e oilio piccante
Grilled calamari with a lemon-chili vinaigrette
Wine Pairing: La Capanera Falanghina

Third course:

Pappardelle con pomodorini di stagione, arugola e pecorino
Pappardelle with red and yellow heirloom tomatoes, arugula, and black pepper pecorino
Wine Pairing: Pala Cannonau di Sardegna

Fourth course:

Filetto di maiale con mele, carote e patate alla salvia
Pork tenderloin roasted with apples, potatoes, carrots and sage in a natural jus
Wine Pairing: 2008 Copertino Riserva


Assortimenti di Biscotti
Wine Pairing: G.D. Vajra Moscato d’Asti


Leave a comment