It was wonderful to have met Charles and being on the same judging table at Radici del Sud in Bari in 2016.
As a wine judging team we had a free afternoon–and we all decided to explore old Bari and have a fantastic lunch at Biancofiore – a specialist in Pugliese style food. It was Charles who found this restaurant and made arrangements for this fantastic experience. Because it was all wine professionals there was plenty of very nice wines that were enjoyed for this brilliant lunch. The restaurant features a nice selection of wines senza solfiti. The meal was perfect–superbly fresh pasta and seafood–a complete delight. Before our lunch we did an informal walking tour of old Bari where we saw the Castello Normanno-Svevo, the revered Basilica San Nicola and the Duomi di Bari was a great way to get a cultural on-boarding to further appreciate Pugliese food and all Southern Italy wines.
Charles was wine director for I Trulli in New York and today he and his wife–Italian cookbook writer Michele Scicolone appear together for a food and wine show on WNBC.
It is a pleasure to feature Charles Scicolone in my interview series.
Thank you Charles for taking time to be interviewed today!
JTWG Q1 How did you become an Italian wine expert? Was it a set of experiences or even a great experience with an exceptional bottle?
CS: I began drinking wine in 1968 but when I went to Italy on my honeymoon in 1970 I fell in love with Italian wine. I have been studying it and drinking it ever since. I have travelled often to Italy and always enjoyed visiting the producers and learning from them.
JTWG Q2 What was the first city that you have visited? (Mine was Pisa–totally not planned and unexpected) and what is your favourite Italian city and why?
CS: The first city I visited was Rome. I loved it at first sight and love it still. It is the scale of the city, its long history, the food and the wine that makes me return there year after year.
JTWG Q3 You have been surrounded by great food and are married to a prolific and award winning cookbook writer Michele Scicolone. I know you have a passion for pizza – what is your favourite place to enjoy pizza – my guess is Napoli? If so which pizzeria?
CS: Yes, it is Naples but I can’t name just one. Da Michele, Le Notizie, Ciro a Santa Brigida are just a few of my favorites.
JTWG Q4 What is your favourite restaurant or restaurants in Roma?
CS: Checchino dal 1887 is my favorite. I have been going there since 1983 and the same family still runs it. They serve traditional Roman food and have a great wine list.
JTWG Q5 You are also fortunate to live in the US best food and wine town–what are you favourtie New York Restaurants?
CS: Norma Gastronomia Siciliana, Il Gattopardo and Temple Court are favorites.
JTWG Q6 What are regions in Italy that are still under recognized for their wine excellence?
CS: Wines from Basilicata and Molise are little known here.
JTWG Q7 New York has everything that no US city has in terms of wine selection; in my base of San Francisco lesser known known Italian varieties are as ‘rare as rubies’–I am always looking for Schioppettino but haven’t found a bottle off-premise for a couple of years. I am guessing New York there is much more diversity and selection of Italian wines – right?
CS: Yes, you can find a very diverse selection of Italian wines in New York.
JTWG Q8 What are your favourite Italian red wine grapes?
CS: I particularly enjoy red wines made with Nebbiolo, Sangiovese and Aglianico grapes.
JTWG Q9 What are your favourite Italian white wine grapes?
CS: For white wines, I like Greco di Tufo, Fiano di Avellino, Caricante and Trebbiano d’Abruzzo as it is vinified by Edoardo Valentini.
JTWG Q10 I very much enjoy Pallagrello Bianco and Nero–I would love to taste more of these wines. Will we see rare varieties being produced more often in the future (increased plantings)?
CS: Yes, I think they are becoming more popular among consumers who are looking for something new and good to drink.
JTWG Q11 What are you reading now?
CS: “Rome – A History in Seven Sackings by Matthew Kneale”.
JTWG Q12 What is your favourite travel experience?
CS: My month-long annual visit to Rome in February/March.
JTWG Q13 Where has your wine and food travel taken you this year and any highlights?
CS: Rome, Naples, and Abruzzo. Visiting Abruzzo and enjoying dinner on a Trabucco, a wooden pier built for fishermen and now used as a restaurant, was a memorable experience.
JTWG Q14 Any parting thoughts for my readers? You are a wealth of information on all things Italian – tips, thoughts?
CS: I urge readers to go beyond the big cities and major tourist sites. There is much more to see and enjoy in Italy.
Thank you Charles so much for participating in my written interview series!
Salute e molto grazie,
James the Wine Guy
Charles Website is here.
Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.
© 2019 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy. James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.
Photo of Charles courtesy of Charle Scicolone.
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