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About this Episode

Maria Valetta, certified sommelier and wine educator, and Robert Tas hit the popular Italian date-night spot La Lanterna to review the wine list and shine a light on the hidden gems and special bottles. This restaurant offers a thoughtfully curated selection of wines by the glass, half bottles and full-sized bottles, plus some good finds for after-dinner drinks, and Maria is here to help identify the best wines on the list.

Wines reviewed include:

  • 2013 Cantina Prà, Passito Bianco from Veneto, Italy

  • 2010 Ornellaia, Bolgheri Superiore, Tuscany

  • 2018 The Coppi Guiscardo, Falanghina

Transcript: La Lanterna

La Lanterna,

RT: Hello and welcome back to CorkRules! The wine podcast that’s here to help YOU navigate all your favorite restaurant wine lists!

I’m, Robert Tas along with Maria Valetta certified sommelier and wine educator also known as Maria the Wine Blonde

Hello Maria

MV: Buongiorno Roberto! We have a lovely Italian date-night spot to review in NYC

RT: That’s right Maria…Today we are talking about La Lanterna di Vittorio on MacDougal Street in the Greenwich Village neighborhood. Famous for being one of the most ROMANTIC Italian cafés in the city thanks to its 4 fireplaces set inside a charming 200-year-old townhome. It’s a locals delight and even more delightful are the desserts… so grab your special someone and cozy up together with a special bottle of vino in the picturesque garden that is open year-round. Maria their wine list is far bigger than I expected, what do you think, do you like this list?

MV: So I’m going to be honest because that’s me… I do wish the font was a little less foo-foo so It’s easier for customers to read.. or maybe some spacing would help for the by-the-bottle section however I am only seeing it online but I DO love all the descriptors of the wines.. sometimes that can be REALLY helpful for people wanting a specific flavor profile.

RT: Yes I see the descriptors for flavor and Style – I also think that’s helpful.

MV: It certainly is.. and I am pleasantly surprised by the extensive beverage options, as sometimes the cafes have sparser selections…La Lanterna offers everything from seasonal cocktails to 25 different types of martinis, over 20 different COFFEE cocktails and then a thoughtfully curated selection of wines by the glass, half bottles and full-sized bottles, plus some good finds for after-dinner drinks.

RT: so, we will have to remember to save room for dessert, however, to begin, how about a white and red by the glass, what do you recommend Maria

MV:  I’d start with the Frisco Scarpetta 2020 Rosato di Sangiovese a fresh, crisp very dry rosé from the Sangiovese grape with a splash of Canaiolo, and Ciliegiolo all native Italian grapes

*** I don’t see enough Tuscan Rosé on wine menus so when I do I order it because the tart cherry, fresh strawberry flavor and hint of dried oregano draws me in every time. a perfect pairing with Bruscetta or Carpaccio both of which La Lanterna has tasty variations of.  

NOW, for my RED wine lovers if they are still offering it.(because they do update their selections monthly) try the Montes “Ltd. Selection”2019  Carmenere/Cab Sauv blend, from Chile, described accurately on the menu as supple with flavors of cassis and spice…but honestly they have a ton of reasonably priced wines by the bottle that you could jump right in there and have more options for you and your date when it comes to red.

RT: Yes, I can’t believe how reasonable the selections are. especially for NY!

MV: it's refreshing to see, I wish more restaurants offered pricing like this for wines

RT: So speaking of price.. with so many great value options what’s going to be a favorite?

MV: Well I just got back from Puglia Italy (the heel of the boot where you have the most beautiful beaches)  and I’m still on the Puglian wine-kick…and La Lanterna has a few from this under the radar region, so I’m excited to recommend these 2 Puglian wines AND they are UNDER $50!

RT: That’s a big plus!

MV: it sure is.. for white, The Coppi Guiscardo, (Gwee Cardo) Falanghina 2018 , This is an ancient Italian varietal. Falanghina is a crisp refreshing white, with melon and peach flavors great for salads and fresh fish.

And the  Vespa dei Bruno, Primitivo, 2015,
this is big dark fruit in a glass that will draw you IN with its supple tannins and jammy finish great by itself or with heartier meaty dishes.

This luscious grape should remind you of California’s zinfandel red because Zinfandel is Primitivo's twin. While Its origins are in Croatia, the clones made their way to Puglia and then on to America where the name changed and the vine adapted to its new home of California becoming America’s beloved Heritage grape known as Zinfandel so the flavor profile may be familiar to you

RT: that is so fascinating how grapes vines have traveled so much in the past with people as they have settled new territories.

MV: The history is really fun to follow.

RT: So let’s move on to something standout  ..I know we have some excellent pricing here, but Maria, I’m sure you can find us a wine we should order if it’s a very special anniversary celebration.

MV: In that case definitely select the Ornellaia, “Bolgheri Superiore” *2010, from Tuscany, Italy, this famous Super Tuscan is definitely a splurge-worthy option as 2010 was their 25th-anniversary bottling. The Orneliaia is true to the Bordeaux style with the Cuvee being a blend of Cab Sauv, Merlot, Cab franc and petit Verdot.  Lots of tobacco and floral notes wrapped around exotic spices.
***RT: Maria, I think we should also mention that La Lanterna is known for their Lasagna flights…

MV: Yes they sure are..imagine having four different bites of lasagne to pair with that Ornellaia? Now that’s what I call a perfect match on date night.

RT: But wait…save room for that dessert wine

MV: OH YESSSS Dessert wines are so romantic. I’d love to share that half bottle of the Cantina Prà, ‘13 Passito Bianco from Veneto, Italy, with someone special. Made with the Garganega grape this wine gets its sweetness and golden hue from a special process in which only the most sun-ripened grapes are harvested and then they are slowly dried for a whole month before being pressed, this concentrates the sweetness, you can expect candied apricots, Floral honey and a rich, round texture

The rule when ordering dessert WINE with your dessert is that the wine should ALWAYS be sweeter than the dessert you order. The Passito would surely bring out the best in the Caramel Custard since this wine will ALSO have sweet notes of caramelization.

RT: That’s a great tip for our listeners, Maria, as we wrap up today’s episode. Maria, thank you for ALL of your helpful wine information and suggestions from La Lanterna di Vittorio’s wine list. You can find Maria on Instagram @Mariathewineblonde.

Thank you EVERYONE for joining us on CorkRules, Remember the only rule in wine is “drink what you LOVE”.

MV: Have a favorite wine List? Let us review it here, Send us your requests at info@CorkRules.com and be sure to Check out all of our episodes on CorkRules.com; Please drink responsibly.





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