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Super Tuscans, Take-Out Pizza, and a Spicy Summer Salad #ItalianFWT

For the month of July the Italian Food Wine Travel bloggers are looking at Super Tuscans with Jill of L'Occasion at the lead. You can read her invitation here.

If you are reading this early enough, feel free to join us for a live Twitter chat on Saturday, June 27th. Follow the hashtag #ItalianFWT and be sure to add that to any tweets you post so that we can see it, too.

Because our usual posting date - the first Saturday of the month - would have conflicted with the American Independence Day holiday, we pushed our posting up a week. So, all of these will be live by early morning on Saturday, June 27th.

Super Tuscans

So, 'Super Tuscan' wasn't a term with which I was totally familiar. I mean, I have heard it, in passing. But I had never really delved into what it meant or specifically sought out a bottle...or two. Jill's invitation got me reading.

The most simple explanation of a Super Tuscan is that it's a red wine blend - from Tuscany - that includes non-indigenous grapes. So, most are some portion Sangiovese, the native grape what makes up Chianti wines, plus non-native grapes such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Cabernet Franc.

Even though we are still on shelter-in-place orders here on California's central coast, I was able to easily locate several Super Tuscans online at I opened two bottles for an evening with pizza take-out on the patio.

Petra Zingari Toscana 2017, suggested retail approximately $18 (
This wine is comprised of equal parts Sangiovese, Merlot, Syrah, and Petit Verdot. I love the history of this wine which traces its origins to an ancient spring that was a watering-hole for all of the travelers in the area, specifically the gypsies - zingari in Italian.

The wine poured a brilliant ruby hue and had aromas of red fruits and notes of herbs. On the palate, this had a hefty amount of tannins with a tinge of minerality. Jake preferred this wine over the next.

Brancaia Tre 2016, suggested retail approximately $24 (
The significance of the wine's name didn't strike me until I started to write this up. 'Tre' as in three. The wine is a blend of three varietals - 80% Sangiovese and 20% Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The percentages of the latter grapes were not called out anywhere that I could find.

La Brancaia, which spans two estates Brancaia and Poppi, has been owned by Brigitte and Bruno Widmer since the early 1980s but is now managed by the Widmer's daughter, Barbara Kronenberg-Widmer and her husband Martin Kronenberg. 

This wine is beefy with notes and aromas of earth, stone, cherry, and coffee. And I liked this wine better than the Zingari.

Take-Out Pizza

This week we are entering our fifteenth week of being sheltered-in-place. And while my family is fairly spoiled as far as me fulfilling food requests, one of the take-out foods they wanted was pizza. "Mom, your pizza is good, but sometimes we just want pizza from somewhere else." Fine. So, we discussed different restaurants that were open for delivery or curbside pick-up.  Jake didn't like the sauce at a place R suggested. R didn't like the crust at the spot D wanted. I still wanted to make the pizzas. Oye. The only place on which everyone agreed was Blaze Pizza! It's kinda like a fast food chain, but it's not bad.

D and I headed over with everyone's favorites and came home with five different pizzas: a combo with a barbeque sauce drizzle, a combo without the barbeque sauce drizzle, a white pizza with pesto stripes, an artichoke pizza with olives with roasted red peppers dollops of fresh red sauce fresh ricotta, and R's favorite - ham and pineapple. Easy dinner!

I will say that everyone - employees and guests - at Blaze Pizza was masked and abided by the six-foot social distancing guidelines. Workers were gloved and changed them out between every customer! Tables were blocked off to allow in-room dining at every other table only, but everyone seemed to be grabbing to go anyway. I was pleased with the experience. I'll be honest: I don't go out often these days, but I am keeping track of businesses that are respecting the guidelines and will continue to support them. Others who are not requiring masks, gloves, and social distancing will not get my least not for a good long while.

Spicy Summer Salad

The same night we got the take-out pizza, friends who homestead asked if I had ever tried wasabi arugula. I hadn't. They dropped some off at my office and I made a simple salad with fresh tomatoes the wasabi arugula, a sprinkling of salt and pepper, and a drizzle of nice piquant olive oil.

We were immediately smitten with the flavor of the greens and ordered some seeds for our own garden. I can't wait to have our own harvest later this summer.

Facing the stack of empty pizza boxes and one lonely tomato on a plate, Jake and I talked about the wines. Neither of these Super Tuscan wines were what I would describe as subtle or soft. Big, hefty, and bold are more accurate descriptors. These weren't just food-friendly, they were food-required. I do not think I would open either of these wines to just sip while I relaxed with a book. These were in-your-face pours that needed food alongside.

The third Super Tuscan was more understated and I'll be featuring that pairing soon. Till then, the #ItalianFWT bloggers' exploration of Italian wines will continue in August with an eye on Rosato wines with Lauren of the Swirling Dervish at the head. Stay tuned...


  1. I too, knew the term "Super Tuscan" but other than some California wines, made in a similar style, I had not really tasted any. I look forward to hearing about the 3rd wine you tasted.
    Oh and I am such a fan of Blaze Pizza. Might have to do that soon! Cheers!

  2. Seems I liked the Zingari better than you did - and that's OK. I agree this wine needs food to be enjoyable. Pizza always helps!

  3. Wasabi arugula????Whatt??? My husband makes this wasabi sauce for salmon, and these greens would also be superb! Brancaia is typically always solid and I'm sure great with all that meat on pizza!

  4. Fun to hear about the different palates at your house. Good to hear your local pizza place is observing guidelines. I picked up pizzas at Papa John's a few weeks ago (I was being considered for an "wine pairing expert" role for a promotion). No distancing, no masks whatsoever. I was glad the pizzas went immediately into a box, and I got out as quickly as I could!

  5. I have never heard of wasabi arugula. Now I'm going to have to be on the lookout.

  6. I totally agree that these are "food required" wines. Also, funny that we had one of the same wines and both paired it with pizza. We had a little but of the wine leftover for a second day, and it was interesting to me that improved over that time.


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