They’ll Drink Anything in Rome #ItalianFWT

Lazio and #ItalianFWT
This month we’re off to Lazio, dominated by Italy’s national capital, Rome! When you think of Rome, you think of the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, the Vatican.  You’re probably not thinking about wine.

Wines of Lazio, all disappear into thirsty Romans! image courtesy of

Wines of Lazio, all disappear into thirsty Romans! image courtesy of

Lazio Wines are Tough to Find
As we slowly tour Italy, region by region, I’ve been surprised by the ease with which I have been able to purchase wines. Even for less well known regions, local shops here in Minnesota have had a selection.  That is, until we hit this month: Lazio, the region which includes Rome. Beyond a Frascati here or there, nothing. (click on any photo to start the slideshow)

Do a little research, and you’ll find there are few standout wineries in the immediate area around Rome, mostly due to the voracious appetite for wine in the Capital City.  As reported in several books, most producers go strictly for quantity as nothing more is wanted beyond wine to fill carafes in the big city. In fact, the Slow Wine 2014 book was brutally honest in their review, a level of frank reporting we rarely see in American publications.  Ouch!

As it turns out, there are some wineries making nice wines and Worldwide Cellars, our local importer brings in a couple wines from Castello di Torre in Pietra. What a treat, they’re inexpensive (no one expects much from Lazio) and imminently drinkable. I had an idea what to expect from the Vermentino, but the Roma DOC blend was a mystery.  Time to sharpen my blind tasting skills!

Saltimbocca alla Romana
Wines in hand, the only thing remaining was choice of food. Again, a bit of research points to Saltimbocca alla Romana as a classic dish with Roman origins.  “Saltare in bocca” literally means “jump in the mouth”.  The dish is claimed to be that good.  Know what, they’re right! Easy to make, it features classic Italian flavors including sage, veal and prosciutto.

saltimbocca alla roma

“Saltare in bocca” = “Jump in the mouth”. Yep, it’s that good!

Roma DOC reds
My first thought on sampling the wine was Sangiovese, it certainly had cherries and herbs on the nose.  Next, I decided to look to the DOC regulations to see if I could glean any more. Rosso (Rd): Minimum 50% Montepulciano; minimum 35% Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cesanese, Sangiovese, and/or Syrah; maximum 15% OAR.  OK, so I was off, as Montepulciano is the dominant grape, but look at that list! Lots of freedom. This was a 100% enjoyable wine, with some complexity at a great price.

Roma DOC text

Roma DOC rules require a base of Montepulciano, then almost anything goes.

Castello di Torre in Pietra Roma Rosso DOC ($16 at South Lyndale Liquors)
This wine is a blend of Montepulciano, Sangiovese and Cesanese (a native grape from this region).
Eye: Clear, mid red, purplish edge. Dark but translucent to the center
Nose: Cherries with a strong herbal/rosemary component. Very nice
Mouth: Ripe bright red cherries, med tannins, lively.  Good finish.
Very nice everyday wine, before knowing the grapes, I guessed Sangiovese.

Lazio Whites
Lazio is best known for its white wines, with Frascati being the best known and most popular. I tried one in my research for this post, but that winery or that particular bottle was so marred by sulfur on the nose, I couldn’t even give the wine a fair evaluation.  I’ll let others in our #ItalianFWT group cover Frascati.  Happily, the Vermentino I found was a wonderful wine. Phew!

Vermentino text

This Vermentino has medium body, perfect for the rich veal.

Castello di Torre in Pietra Vermentino Costa Etrusco Romana IGT ($16 at South Lyndale Liqours)
Eye: Clear, medium straw yellow
Nose: Fresh, green apples, pears, floral
Mouth: Medium body, lively acidity, not tart but definitely mouth-watering.

Saltimbocca alla Romana

Wine Pairing with Saltimbocca all Romana
Both went well, however, prosciutto in the dish always seems to lean the flavors to red wine as a better pick.  We enjoyed both, you could certainly enjoy the Vermentino with the Saltimbocca as the Vermentino has enough body.  However, the rich texture of the Roma Blend was just perfect with the richness of the meat.

I'm giving the Roma red blend the edge in this pairing, prosciutto is the key.

I’m giving the Roma red blend the edge in this pairing, prosciutto is the key.

#ItalianFWT goes to Rome
Take a look at our Italian Food, Wine & Travel blog posts for Lazio:

Vino Travels – Food & Wine Pairing of Lazio: Saltimboca alla Romana with Casale del Giglio Petit Verdot
Italophilia – Visit Ariccia with Buona Sera Mrs. Campbell
Orna O’Reilly – A Foodie Easter in Rome
Cooking Chat – Orzo, Salmon and Pesto Paired with a Frascati
Rockin Red Blog – Live Like Caesar
Enofylz Wine Blog – A Taste of Lazio
Christy’s Palate – Living La Vita Lazio
The Palladian Traveler – Civita di Bagnoregio: The Dying Town
Adventures of a Carry On – When in Rome Eat Like a Roman: Bucatini all’Amatriciana
Girls Gotta Drink – Eat Like a Roman (With a Roman): Unusual Things to do in Rome
If you see this in time, check in on our Twitter chat at #ItalianFWT on Saturday July 4th at 10:00 am CDT. Please feel free to join in, we love more participants in our chats! Next month on Saturday August 1st we’ll feature the island of Sardegna.
A Previous Trip to Rome
I haven’t been to Rome as a tourist for a while.  Work has taken me there a few times, but never for any sightseeing or pleasure activities.  My last real visit was (whoa!) in 1976. 19 years old, a midshipman in the Navy.  All I have now are some faded photos. Still, fun memories!

Saltimbocca alla Romana

You can cook the cutlets flat or roll them up.  We tried both. We thought the rolled up versions retained more moisture and flavor.  Also, you can remove the toothpicks after cooking, the cutlets will stay together. A classic side dish is mashed potatoes.  We used a mix of potatoes and cauliflower.


  • 1 lb. veal scallops, pounded to 1/4″ thickness
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 12 fresh sage leaves
  • 4 oz. thinly sliced Prosciutto di Parma
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 oz. dry white wine
  • toothpicks


  • After pounding out the veal, lay out the slices, add a pinch of pepper
  • Top with sage leaves, then prosciutto
  • Stake flat with toothpicks, or roll up, then stake with toothpicks
  • Heat a large cast iron skillet to medium-high heat
  • Melt the butter and oil, and immediately start to cook the veal scallops or rolls in batches.  The flat scallops cook very quickly, the rolls take a little longer, but just a few minutes on each side.
  • Remove the veal from the frying pan, set aside on a warm plate
  • Add the wine to the pan, scrape up the cooked bits off the bottom and reduce the liquid until it makes a nice sauce.
  • Return the cutlets to the pan to briefly coat in the sauce, then plate and serve.

saltimbocca_roma_vermentino_italianFWT 20150621 91

20 Responses to “They’ll Drink Anything in Rome #ItalianFWT”
  1. I LOVE the print button at the top of the recipe – thanks. Great trip and gorgeous food (Saltimbocca alla Romana to die for) and wine (fab.) Sorry I’ll miss the chat as I will be jockeying a spot to watch the parade in the Sonoma Square, but have fun – look forward to more great posts and chats in the future. Happy 4th – Salut!

  2. ishitasood says:

    Great pictures and tips 🙂 I love your food pictures, mouthwatering (even though I just had lunch) Can’t wait for the chat at night!

  3. Penny says:

    yum! and lucky you for finding that delicious red wine. I tried a Frascati and it was drinkable. Not bad at all. 🙂

  4. Looks like we picked the same dish although yours looks much fancier ; ) I figured Lazio was going to be a tough region for finding wines, but makes it even more fun to explore and enjoy.

  5. When I think of Rome right now, I think of heat! Whew, but it’s hot in Italy now. Drink lots of bubbles. Looking forward to learning more about the region since the city usually sucks up all the ink. Thanks for the recipe. Can’t wait to try it.

    Buon viaggio!


  6. Wow! The meal looks amazing. The stepwise pics are so impressive. You must have a lot of patience to get the veal so thin. An amazing meal! Fantastic personal pictures too!

  7. christymajors says:

    I’m envious you were able to find some different wines than Frascati – The Saltimbocca looks delectable! What vegetable did you serve it with? Happy 4th of July!

  8. Great post Jeff! I love the old photos…and your dish looks amazing!

  9. Audrey says:

    Your pictures are beautiful Jeff. Annnd now I’m hungry… and thirsty 😉

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