The word ghetto has taken on a dark and sinister meaning because of the abominations caused in them during World War II.

That should not be the case at all.

I would love to return to the ghetto of my youth in Brooklyn New York.

The ghettos of my youth were not walled in places of terror but gatherings of people of specific ethnic origins or religions all living in the same area.

There you could get authentic food and drink and often hear the language of “the old country.”

If you look hard enough, you can still find some today, such as China town and Little Italy in New York city, “The Hill” in Chicago, the Amish are often found throughout the country in tight groups and if you expand the definition, the Mormons in the state of Utah.

Why this dissertations on Ghettos?

I miss the ability to go down to the right side of York Avenue in Brooklyn to get authentic Polish foods and then cross to the left side of the street to visit the Ukraine for desert.

I could take a bus over to Bath Avenue in Brooklyn to immerse myself in everything Italian including real Italian ices and weekend bocce (bah ch i) ball tournaments complete with food and wine.

The wines were mostly imported Italian wines and of course the inevitable Gallo Hearty Burgundy and Carlo Rossi wines.

The reason for this long and personal dissertation is to call attention to an excellent Italian variety, Valpolicella that is as authentically Italian as spaghetti, ravioli and Maserati’s and that in these days of so many wines to choose from, are often overlooked.

Famiglia Castagnedi Nanfrè 2017 Valpolicella ($15). This wine is about as traditional an Italian wine as you can get. It is a big, full flavored, medium bodied red wine made from two local grape varieties, Corvina and Rondinella. The wine is loaded with the flavor and aroma of cherries with a noticeable almond undertone that ends in a delightful and very intense fruit aftertaste. Concerning food accompaniment, this wine will go with anything Italian and can even add an Italian flare to a bratwurst.

Famiglia Castagnedi Monti Garbi 2016 Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore ($20). The magic word here is Ripassso, which is a winemaking technique that is totally Italian and results in an unforgettable wine. The technique consists of aging the wine along with the leftover skins from a previous fermentation to the aging wine. This results in a second fermentation and produces a darker, fuller bodied, deeply colored wine with very obvious flavors and aromas. There is noticeable body and a host of fruit flavors that almost defies picking a specific one out. To put it simply, this wine is a Valpolicella on steroids. My personal opinion, since I am a lover of Italian wines, if you have never tried a Valpolicella Ripasso you have missed a wine of distinction that can and will bring out the hidden Italian in all of us.

Famiglia Castagnedi 2013 Amarone Della Valpolicella ($50). An Amarone is a Valpolicella that has been made from grapes that have been dried in the sun on straw mats, much like raisins, that concentrates the color, flavor and sugars and ending in a long aging in wooden barrels. The Famiglia Castagnedi 2013 Amarone Della Valpolicella has been fermented to 15% alcohol to insure a dry, full flavored wine with a substantial body and an extra powerful flavor. While the alcohol level is high at 15%, there is no alcohol flavor but rather a deep cherry and dark blackberry that carries through to the aftertaste and lingers for a long time after the wine has been swallowed. This wine is not just a beverage but rather an experience and, in my opinion, an experience that should not be missed. I must however put in this caveat. Once you have experienced an Ameron,e you will gain a deep understanding of the Italian amore della vita (love of life).

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