June 23, 2011
Take a trip to Italy with food-wine expert Darrell Corti

How would you like to take a trip to Italy with internationally recognized food and wine expert Darrell Corti of Sacramento? You can - vicariously, of course.

For 12 days in March, as part of two wine-trade events, Corti toured through Palermo (Sicily), Venice and northern Italy. Looking calm and confident, and sporting various brightly color bow ties, he tasted and sampled while visiting with some of his store's purveyors. His trip was sponsored by Winett Taste & Trade (a Venice-based wine-marketing company) and the Sicilian Regional Wine Institute.

Accompanying him was Corti Bros. Market store director Rick Mindermann and videographer Esther Ritter. The two assembled a day-by-day blog site with commentary, 95 videos and 317 photos. Go to (and check out the Corti Bros. Facebook page).

"The blog site captures what it's like to travel with Darrell," Mindermann said on the phone.

What were some of the highlights?

"One was visiting the Violi family at their San Geminiano estate, just outside the city of Reggio Emilia in the province of Emilia-Romagna. There, the Violis make real balsamic vinegar (available at Corti Bros.). Darrell knows the family, so it was basically a reunion."

What else? "Eating at the world-famous Harry's Bar in Venice, where we had calamari, scampi, stockfish two ways, and calves liver and onions," Mindermann said. "And we had Bellinis (Prosecco and peach puree) because that's where the cocktail was invented."

Mindermann added, "The real feel of northern Italy came when we did a vermouth tasting in Cocconato, in the Piedmont region. The vermouth was a newly formulated version based on the original recipe from 120 years ago."

I tasted that vermouth, which is more of an herbal digestif as opposed to the watery, fortified wine commonly used in a martini. Vermouth d'Toriono is $18.99 for a 25.4-ounce bottle at Corti Bros., 5810 Folsom Blvd., Sacramento; (916) 736-3800

One last thing, a quote from Corti himself about the trip: "It wasn't a blog - it was a real job."

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