As the name of this blog implies, this is a space devoted to using relatively humble food ingredients and more obscure or so-called “lesser” wines, and elevating them to their highest levels. There is nothing more worthwhile spending money on than good food and wine, but that doesn’t mean that these things have to be expensive.

I try as much as I can to maintain a seasonal approach to cooking (like no eggplant dishes in January, for example!), and I always give strong consideration to using local produce, as well as a distinct preference for, though not a thoughtless adherence to the use of organic ingredients as well.

The concept of “If it grows together, it goes together” is also really important to what I do here in these pages, so I typically will select a menu from a specific region or even sub-region, and try as much as possible to find a wine from as close to this or that place to pair with the meal (or vice versa). This means that if I’m cooking a classic Roman dish like spaghetti alla carbonara, I’m looking to pair it with not just an Italian white wine, but one from the Lazio region.

I bought my first book about wine when I was 10 years old(!), and I’ve maintained a strong interest in wine, particularly those from the Old World, as well wines made from the many wonderful but overlooked or nearly unknown grape varieties grown there. I worked for over 10 years in the wine trade, buying and selling wines on both the retail and wholesale sides of the business in the New Jersey and New York markets.



  1. Great blog! Why’d you stop?? You tasted Irouléguy and Bombino Bianco in back-to-back posts — you MUST resume.

    • Hey Chaz-

      Thanks for the comments…I must admit that you are the first commentor I’ve had write in MANY months – sure, folks tend not to write to blogs that seems to be dead, but even when I was posting frequently, the number of hits and comments were VERY low…I wrote a LONG blog at the WINE LIBRARY for quite a while – you can access all of those posts here: http://terroir.winelibrary.com/ If you like what I do here, you should enjoy the TERROIR blog just as much…let me know what you think (here, not there – I think all of the interactive functions have been disabled since I left WL)

      As far as continuing, I don’t know…there is such a MASSIVE glut of food and wine blogs on the ‘net, it can be a bit discouraging…Getting traffic to the site requires being a bit of message board/link whore, and/or fairly computer/’net savvy…and unfortunately (or fortunately), I’m neither… self-promotion is just not my long suit. If you’re well-versed in this sort of thing, I’d appreciate any advice you might offer…Drop me a line at pipistrello7@comcast.net

      In any event, yes, wines like Irouleguy and Bombino Bianco are VERY cool wines, and it’s nice to hear that others out there actually persue these new experiences rather than pedestrian fruit punch plonk, or “the emperor’s new clothes” cult wines that cost $100 and are worth $20.

      Chaz- Thanks so much again for the kind words, and give me a shout either here or at the e-mail address above if you’re so inclined…

      Tom Ciocco

  2. Happy New Year, Tom,

    I was thinking of you tonight with my new pasta dish and the wine choices. You can find the details at http://dgourmac.wordpress.com/2011/01/02/dinner-at-the-end-of-the-holidays/

    Be well.

  3. Tom,
    I am writing to ask if you would allow me to use the photo of a label of a Mukuzani wine that appears in your blog on July 29, 2012. It will appear in a book on Eastern European wines and the photo will be credited to you.
    Please let me know soon.
    Thank you,
    John Hudelson
    Global Wine Studies, CWU

    • Hi John,
      Sure. I’m happy to oblige with the use of the photo.

  4. I am just seeing this blog tonight for the first time….i have developed a pretty intense love of some of italy’s bigger wines heightened by trips to Piemonte in recent years. Only recently learned of and started to drink Aglianico and Galioppo . I was actually born in Calabria so I was thrilled to know that it had a sophisticated, complex but also approachable and bright wine that i could pair with a rapini and sausage pasta dish or the potato , eggplant and red peppers fry my sister perfected.

    You wrote: “There is nothing more worthwhile spending money on than good food and wine…”, This is a reflection of a truth that food and wine made and consumed with passion are amongst life’s very few consistent, gratifying and enriching experiences.

    I know that not everyone feels the same way but i am grateful to have friends and family with whom this can be shared and grateful that others (like you) have shared their passion and insight.

    ….i will go through you backlog of posts.

    Keep well!

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