Category Archives: Wine Fellowship Group

Rotarians Usher in Spring at Wine Tasting at Biaggi’s Restaurant

–submitted by Mike Wilson


The Wine Fellowship Group met at Biaggi’s Restaurant on Thursday the 20th of March for a wine and food pairing created by the chef, Mike White. We had food and wine from the North of Italy, although the chef had obtained local versions of the meats and cheeses.

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We started with a fish dish with an Alto Adige Pinot Grigio and Vermentino blend paired to go with the trout.  One Wine Fellowshipper declared it was the best trout she had ever eaten. The Cinghiale (wild Boar) over pasta was great, and paired with a Chianti Classico and a Super Tuscan – a real classical Tuscan presentation. The chef then served a local grass fed beef with a Nebbioli and Dolcetto.

Two excellent cheeses were served with a Barbera.  A Sartori Cheese souffle and pine nut gelato was paired with an excellent Veneto “baby” Amarone (30% of the wine made the classical Amarone way).

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(Photo 1: Steve & Meryl Mixtacki; Photo 2: Paul & Ellie Schatz; Photo 3: Juli & Keith Baumgartner)

The wines were all very good.  I personally rated the “baby” Amarone and the SuperTuscan the best of the evening, but every wine, to me, scored well.  We did the typical food-wine pairing drill of trying the wines with and without the paired food, and, as expected, many times the wine liked second best alone, was better with the food – a great example of how food can improve the wine, but wine cannot improve the food.

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(Photo 1: Ellie Schatz & Dick Moll; Photo 2: Joan& Rich Leffler; Photo 3: Patty Wilson and Meryl Mistacki)

Everyone had a great time in the special wine dining room at Biaggi’s.  The “lucky thirteen” attendees had a treat in a delightful room on the first day of spring.

Wine Fellowshippers Jump Start the Holiday on December 12

–submitted by Steve Mixtacki and Mike Wilson


Pictured from left: Meryl Mixtacki, Dick Pearson, Noel Pearson, Mike Casey, Dori Hosek & Robyn Kitson

The Wine Fellowship Group met at Steve and Meryl Mixtacki’s home on a cold December night but a very warm event followed.  One very new member, Mike Casey, came along, together with 13 other Fellowshippers. The evening focused on Italian varietals selected from the cellars of Steve Mixtacki and Mike Wilson.  The wines were divided into four groups: Italian varietals from America, typical varietals from several regions of Italy, and then examples of the wines of the Piedmonte (Nebbiolo) and Central Tuscany (Montalcino).  They were all reds.

Steve & Meryl Mixtacki

Steve & Meryl Mixtacki

While Mike and Steve provided the wines, Mike’s wife, Patty, provided 5 cheeses and crackers to match with the wine and Steve’s wife, Meryl, provided bruschetta, breads, and chocolates to enhance the experience.  As a result, a good time was had by all.

The US-made wines included a Sangiovese from Napa, a Barbara from Alexander Valley, and a Super Tuscan from, of all places, Arizona.

Mike Wilson brought a favorite from Puglia in the “boot” of Italy (Negroamaro grape), another from the isle of Sicily (Nero d’Avola), and a lesser red wine from the Piedmont (Dolcetto). These are the classic common red drinking wines of these regions.  The first two wine bottles were signed by the vineyard owners, and there were tales of these characters from when they were promoting their wines in the States.  These wines were at the end of their useful shelf lives, but each was of good quality and tasting well.

Mike Wilson also brought some Nebbiolos from the Piedmont.  This grape is considered the King of Italian grapes and there are many regions where this is grown e.g. Langhe and Roero, and then there are other names used for different regions where better Nebbiolo’s are made e.g. Barolo, Barbaresco , Gattinara and Ghemme.  These are the wines that can be classified as DOCG (this Guaranteed classification has the wines tasted before release by a panel to ensure the quality).  We tried two Langhe (2002 and 2008) and ended up tasting two Barolo’s 2004 and 2009.


Photo 1: Dori Hosek & Robyn Kitson; Photo 2: Ginny Yuska, Ken Yuska & Beverly Simone; Photo 3: Mike Casey & Dori Hosek

Three wines came from the Montalcino region in Tuscany.  Two were Brunello di Montalcinos, which are also DOCG wines, are the most well-known wine from the region, and are made from 100% from Sangiovese.  “Regular” Brunellos are not released until 50 months after harvest, while reserve Brunellos need to age an additional 12 months.  The third wine was a Rosso di Montalcino, sometimes referred to as a “baby Brunello,” which is also 100% Sangiovese, but only needs to be aged one year before release to earn a DOC classification, allowing producers to offer a less expensive wine and allow for some cash flow while the grapes from the same vintage are aging for Brunello.

The Wine Fellowship Group had a great evening socializing, learning about – and enjoying – Italian varietals, and getting a jump on some holiday celebration.


Dick Pearson

Happy Holidays
from the Rotary Club of Madison Wine Fellowship Group!

Wine Fellowship Group Tasting to Support UW Rotaract Project

–submitted by Ellie Schatz; photos by Martha Casey & Mike Wilson

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“Keep a Child Alive” is the mission of the Mashambanzou Care Trust, Zimbabwe, an international service project of the UW-Madison Rotaract. Fifteen of our club members and guests joined 2 Rotaract students and a representative of the project to enjoy an evening of fellowship while learning about and supporting the needs of “Orphans of Aids” in Africa. “A new day, a new dawn,” is the meaning of the word Mashambanzou and exactly what this project gives the children in an area with the 4th highest AIDS death rate in the world.

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Photos left to right: (Photo 1: From left: Rachelle Richardson (Purple Feet Wine Rep), Pauline Michalik & Weston Halter (Rotaract students); Photo 2:  Pauline and Weston talk about the Mashambanzou Project; Photo 3: From left: Rachelle Richardson, Pauline Michalik, Weston Halter & Mike Wilson–“Let the wine tasting begin!”

The enjoyment was spelled w-i-n-e, and there were 14 different sparkling wines, whites, and reds from respected vineyards in California, Australia and Italy for our group to taste, along with accompanying cheeses, crackers, breads and Patty Wilson’s ever-tasty chocolate-covered strawberries.

Mike and Patty Wilson hosted the event, with Mike helping tasters to appreciate not only the wines themselves, but also corked versus capped bottles and new versus old vines. All of us were familiar with blends, but I, for one, learned something new when presented with a “field blend,” meaning not that the grapes were mixed after picking, but that the vineyard features a blend of grapevines.

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Photos left to right: (Photo 1: Ginny & Ken Yuska; Photo 2:  Tim Muldowney & Jackie Hank; Photo 3: Paul & Ellie Schatz

UW Rotaract was presented with a gift of a soapstone statuette that represents “the oneness of us all” from the sisters who run the project in Zimbabwe. One and all of us seemed ready to step up to help the Orphans of Aids that the project feeds and supports with health care, residential care, psychosocial care and education. From the bustle in the kitchen with wine-order forms, I think our Rotaract friends and our evening’s hosts can rest assured a success in this, the wine fellowship’s annual fundraiser for Mashambanzou. “We are raising funds for education — the greatest future for our children” and “it takes only $5 to keep a child alive,” our Rotaract friends told us. We’d all showed we could drink to that and now we opened our checkbooks with hopes of sending many kids to school and easing their grief in 2014 while we continued to enjoy the fruits of this fellowship evening.

Wine Fellowship Group Raises Over $1,800 for Rotaract Project

From left: Carol Koby, Rich Leffler & Joan Leffler

The Rotary Wine Fellowship Group enjoyed a great tasting at Mike Wilson’s home on Sunday, the 18th  of November.  This event marked the group’s 8th Annual Fundraiser for the UW Rotaract’s Mashambanzou orphanage project.

The 18 participants tasted 18 different wines, and most were available for sale for the cause.

Two Rotaract representatives (Charlotte Smith and Derek Shupe) as well as Dan Larson (Chair of our club’s Rotaract Advisory Committee) were present for the event.

From Left: Charlotte Smith, Derek Shupe & Dan Larson

Purple Feet provided the wines as they have for past tastings.  Mark Bausch (the principal) and I selected the wines from the Purple Feet “book.”  We cannot thank Mark enough for his generosity and help in this fundraiser event.

Some of the wines were three sparklers including Duval “Leroy Nieman Paris Label,” a cremant, and a great New Mexico version.  Next we had two NZ Sauvignon Blancs and two NZ Pinot Noirs for an Antipodean experience.  Two good Chardonnays, and four Italianesque reds followed.  We had cheeses with each of the whites and some meat cuts with the reds.  The final phase included Ports, Sauternes and an Icewine (Eiswein) – with chocolates.

The really good news is that we helped the UW Rotaract Group raise $1,838 for the Zimbabwean orphans project, and we made the Rotaract students and Dan Larson very happy.  The tasters were also happy with the selections, as everyone purchased some for home use at a later date.

–Submitted by Mike Wilson, Wine Fellowship Group Chair