It is by now a given among connoisseurs that Italy's Barolo wines are on a par with the very finest wines of Bordeaux and Burgundy, though there is something of a cold war going on among Barolo producers in the region of Piedmont.
Tar & Roses, whose name comes from the contrasting notes on the nose of Barolo wine, opened its doors roughly about this time last year and is a James Beard nominee for Best New Restaurant of 2012. It's also one of the hottest tickets in town.
Clearly, there is huge demand in the the U.S. market for Italian wine, but at the same time, there is great competition. Debra and Dino Santonastaso, two enthusiastic Italians, have recently begun selecting and exporting wines to the U.S.
A region that has long made high-quality, ageworthy wines that, with a few decades on them, are very reminiscent of fine old Barolos and Bordeaux is Rioja -- Spain's illustrious red wine-producing region.
The greatest, most pleasurable aspect of wine tends to be hidden from most consumers. That is the incredible, often jaw-droppingly complex aromas, flavors and sublime beauty of a great wine that has been aged to maturity.