Antica Bottega del Vino, Verona

On the recommendation of friends from Vicenza, I visited Antica Bottega Del Vino in Verona. A place with history and an institution of traditionalism. I love places like this.

I purposely ordered a little lighter on lunch and more aggressively on wines I haven't experienced before. My friends were taking me to have no less than four different courses of risotto later in the evening, so it was better to go light on the food.

To start, cotechino filled tortellini with a horseradish butter was awesome. They did not skip on the cotechino stuffing inside the pasta. I've made cotechino several times before for dinner parties and Italian guests, but never thought to put it in pasta before. As good as the cotechino was, the horseradish infused butter stole the show. All the perfume of horseradish, without the bite. Perhaps memory engrams fire in my brain to think of meat when horseradish flavors show up on a plate. Delicious, elevated dish with one simple ingredient.

My first wine was just ok until the pasta, then it totally opened up with a hint of sweetness. The wine on its own tasted a little flat, dull, honestly. I think it needed the fat from the cotechino to open up.

Course two, beef tartare is cold, minimally seasoned and a bit bland. I reach for the crunch of bread sticks searching for the help of some salt and texture. I know. I keep getting tartare wondering if it will be amazing next time at the next place. It hasn't been. I need a French chef or I need to prepare it myself.

The wine on this course, was outstanding. Mixed with Syrah and described as a first cru in valpolicella with a complex mixture of scents coming off the nose; raisins, teriyaki and barbecue like smelling the crust of long cooked bbq. Sorry, no picture.

Dessert was chocolate mousse with a Zabiglione mousse in the middle. The straight chocolate with the wine doesn't pair as well. Dessert with wine number three is an recioto/amarone style wine and it's the bomb, not specifically a dessert wine. A sexy wine. They offered dessert cookies that were very similar to Elena's at Parma.

Overall a great experience at Antica. Jumping into completely new wine territory with Ripasso and Amarone styled wine. What would happen if our friends at In Pursuit of Balance started heralding the merits of balanced wines at 16% that are fermented whole cluster? The California wine world would come unglued! What would a Somm do?