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An Italian Heritage of Flavor from America’s Secret Wine Region

This class was presented by the Stony Brook University Center for Wine, Food, and Culture as part of a continuing series of events designed to “offer richly diverse experiences with the goal of enhancing knowledge, sensory awareness, health, and conviviality.”

I was more than a little intrigued by the description of this class:

Winemaking is part of the Italian American heritage. For more than a century, through Prohibition, many a cellar in Queens and Brooklyn has housed a small winery, often producing excellent wines. This will be an evening of tasting the Diliberto's Gold Medal winning wines, with reminiscences of the roots of this Italian American tradition.

As a third generation Italian how could I resist?

Our hosts were Sal & Maryann Diliberto of Diliberto Winery in Jamesport on the north fork of Long Island. Sal started off by embarrassing the daylights out of us with an impromptu Italian lesson.

Although Italian was spoken at home when I was a kid, I barley understood a word Sal was saying. His Italian is very different from the 100 year old Sicilian dialect I grew up with. Next, he treated us to an a cappella version of Dean Martin’s, That’s Amore. What a great voice…

Like good food and good wine, the Italian and the singing went well with the theme of the evening. In between sips of wine and bites of Maryann’s excellent food Sal told us about Italian immigrants who, seeking the comforts of home in an unfamiliar place, made wine in their cellars.

This reminded me of a story my father tells about when he was growing up in Brooklyn. As a kid it was his job to bring wine up from the cellar for Sunday dinner. It wasn’t bottled so he had to fill gallon jugs from barrels with spigots. He always filled 2 jugs, one for the table and one just for his Uncle.

I felt right at home with Sal and Maryann. Sal’s wines were excellent (especially his merlot) and so was Maryann’s cooking. I had a great time at this event and I think everyone else did too.

Stony Brook University Center for Wine, Food, and Culture
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