What To Drink Now: Columbus Day

Statue of Christopher Columbus in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Where would we be without Christopher Columbus, so in honor of him and his day, here are some suggestions fitting to toast the adventurous Italian who, thanks to the Spanish monarchy, was finally able in 1492 to sail the wide ocean blue.
Several suggestions were sent for editorial consideration.

In honor of Columbus, Drink Italian wine -
The easy to drink Tuscan Rosato from Santa Christina will help anyone feel Italian. Made from a blend of 60% Sangiovese, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah, creating a wine with ripe strawberry, raspberry and cranberry with an approachable style that can be enjoyed with anything from light salads to pasta with a light tomato sauce. 

Arnaldo Caprai Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG featuring the robust red grape Sagrantino.  This, like many Italian wines, are meant to be enjoyed with a hearty plate of grilled game or roasted meat, bringing out the earthy flavors of this bold varietal.  Aged 24-26 months in French oak barrels and then another 6 months in bottle, this is wine that should be decanted a few hours prior to drinking, or buy it now and then give it a little time to age in your cellar, as time will only help soften the tannin adding an additional layer of finesse to this interesting varietal.

Marchesi de Frescobaldi Nipozzano Riserva Chianti Rufina DOCG blend of 90% Sangiovese with a touch of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon from the heart of Tuscany and filled with flavors of the countryside like wild herbs, dried plum and cherry, roasted espresso and mocha.  A quality every day wine that really shines after it is left a few hours to breath before drinking, or with the use of a Vinturi.

Also from Marchesi de Frescobaldi, Castel Giocondo Brunello di Montalcino, the much loved wine made of 100% Sangiovese and aged 4 years before release in both barrel and bottle.  Intense spice like nutmeg, clove and cinnamon mix with floral aromas of violets and lavender, followed by flavors of dried red fruit chocolate and leather.  A big wine that will also benefit from some age, but simply delicious, especially when paired with roasted lamb, brisket or braised meat.

Drink Italian Spirits -
Molinari Sambuca Extra, the anise based liqueur that has become the most popular sambuca in the world created in 1945 by mixologist Angelo Molinari in the town of Civitavecchia. The licorice and herb filled liqueur made from a secret family recipe has long been the ideal digestif among Italians at the end of a meal, but it is also delicious when mixed into cocktails like with a Moliberry (Molinari with cranberry juice), or simply into a cup of coffee.  However, traditional Italians will say it is best served straight up with a few coffee beans.

On the other end of the spectrum, but also made with a secret blend of botanical, herbs and spices is the ideal Italian aperitif, Campari.  The rich liqueur, which was first created in 1860 in Novara, prides itself for being cutting-edge and sophisticated, as it “has always been distinguishable thanks to its style, class and elegance”  Though there are many ways to enjoy Campari, often with the addition of vermouth, I like it mixed with a little grapefruit juice and club soda over ice, a delicious way to start a night.

Drink Non-Italian Spirits -
Some forget that Columbus first landed and settled a colony on the Dominican Republic, then known as Hispaniola. The capital city of Santo Domingo, established by Columbus’ brother Bartholomew Columbus in 1496, pays tribute to the brothers across the city and locals believe it to be the burial place of Christopher, however the Spanish insist he is actually buried in Spain.

Whatever you believe, one thing is certain, the Dominicans know how to make a good bottle of rum, specifically Ron Brugal, created by Andrés Brugal Montaner, a Spanish national who had migrated to Puerto Plata in the late 1880′s, establishing the company in 1888. From the incredibly clean Brugal Especial Extra Dry introduced to the U.S. earlier this summer to the rich, nicely aged 1888, Brugal sets the standard for excellence in rum, enjoyed simply over ice or with a splash of club soda, or with 7Up for a Santo Libre.
Drink American wine, as we wouldn’t be here without him -
Like a wine with deep Italian roots and heritage. Robert Mondavi is best known as being one of the father’s of Napa Valley, and have certainly seen many stages of life since their start in the 1960′s, and earlier as Robert and his siblings grew up in a home where their father was making wine from Italian grapes in the basement of their home.

Mondavi Reserve Chardonnay defines a classic California Chardonnay with green apple, fresh pear, toasted hazelnut and vanilla notes.

Mondavi Reserve Pinot Noir shows why Carneros is so ideally suited for growing Pinot Noir grapes, with cool fog and coastal breezes easing the heat during long summer days, ensuring slow ripening and bright acidity of this fickle variety.  Filled with blackberry and plum flavors with just a touch of floral notes and spice, ending with a silky finish.

The Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, that when first released by Mondavi in the late 1960′s showed wine lovers around the world the potential of Napa Valley and the wines of California, continues to prove the quality of Oakville, Napa land and how special the To Kalon Vineyard, the site Mondavi built his winery on, is.