A “return to its roots” is how Italian Wine & Food Institute President Dr. Lucio Caputo described the 31st Gala Italia event, held at New York City’s Pierre Hotel on February 18th. More than 300 attendees, among them the wine world’s most illustrious journalists, joined Caputo to celebrate honorees whose careers had made significant impact on Italian wine and food consumption in America.
A walk-around tasting featuring producers from throughout Italy was prelude to an elegant pairings dinners showcasing pours including a Tenuta Santa Caterina, Silente delle Marne, Monferrato Bianco DOC 2013, Tenute Lunelli, Carapace, Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG, 2008 and a Bertani, Villa Arvedi, Amarone della Valpolicella Valpantena DOCG, 2012. The multi-course meal highlighted the diversity, tradition, and modernity of Italian wine as well as the delicious regional quality of Italian meats, cheeses and pasta. A fashion show featuring the designs of Italian menswear designer Eredi Pisanò of Rome also added to the glamour of the evening.
Strum, a 37-year veteran of the global wine industry and a longtime champion of Italian wine in the United States, was awarded the prestigious Italian Wine Excellence Award, beginning his lively acceptance speech by questioning, “Would there even be an American wine industry without the lineage and influence of the sons and daughters of Italy?” Strum also reminisced about his first wine trip to Italy in the 1980s with Caputo himself: “Since then, the world has discovered what I learned back then: That Italy delivers some of the world’s most adored and iconic wines.”
Other honorees of the night received “Wine Leaders” awards and also described Italian wines as their first and lasting love: Director of the International Wine Center and Master of Wine Mary-Ewing Mulligan—notably the first American woman ever to achieve the MW certification in 1993—emphasized that “the first wines I knew, the first wines I loved,” and influential New York Times food writer Florence Fabricant effused the never-ending education that diverse Italian wines had offered her: “To learn about Nerello Mascalese from Sicily and the slopes of Mount Etna,” Fabricant said, “is continually exciting.” Winner John Mariani, author of How Italian Food Conquered the World, accepted his award in a similarly thankful vein.
The GALA ITALIA was organized by the Italian Wine & Food Institute under the patronage of the Italian Ambassador to Washington, and under the sponsorship of the Italian Ministry of Economic Development and the ICE – Italian Trade Agency.