Wednesday, September 29, 2021

A Strong Brunello is perfect with a Venison Meatball Stew #ItalianFWT

The Italian Food Wine and Travel group are spending the next few months exploring the 3 Big B's of Italy, Brunello, Barbaresco and Barolo. 

bottles of wine

 I am hosting this month as we start the adventure with Brunello.......

I became interested in hosting a post about Brunello after reading this article in Food and Wine which starts off with this sentence: "If you're looking for a knockout Italian wine, you can't do much better than Brunello". 

When I approached our administrator, Jennifer of Vino Travels, she suggested we start with Brunello and follow up with Barbaresco for next month and Barolo for December.  I was able to acquire a 3 pack of all 3 wines photographed above from

Brunello Wine

I opened this wine on a dreary rainy day as fall descends upon Michigan.  We have been suffering some horrendous storms and I decided to make up a comforting stew that I thought would pair nicely with this Brunello di Montalcinos from Frescobaldi.

This 2013 vintage received a lot of accolades and consistently high ratings.  It is made from Sangiovese grapes as is the wine grown in Chianti, it's neighbor.  However, in Montalcino, Sangiovese goes by the name Brunello.  By law, Brunello must be aged for a minimum of four years, two of which are spent in barrels.  Once released, this wine often needs even more time in bottle before opening to meet it's full potential.  

I could see that this wine could have aged a little bit more.  The first sip was very acidic.  I allowed it to aerate until dinner was ready to be served and it was better but more enjoyable with the food than by itself, however by the time dinner and clean up was complete and I poured another glass, it was perfect...smooth, full bodied and flavorful.

Venison Stew with Wine

Further exploration of this wine found an article at wine insiders that suggested pairing Brunello with heavy, savory meat dishes, especially game meats.  I had some venison in my freezer and decided to make an Italian Meatball Stew.  You will find the recipe for this scrumptious stew  at the bottom of my post.  If you are not a venison fan you can use beef or lamb for this dish as well.

All the members of Italian Food Wine and Travel that were able to join me in this exploration of Brunello wine will be getting together for Twitter Chat on Saturday, October 2nd, at 11 AM ET to share their ideas and pairings.  You are welcome to join in the fun.  You will find us following #ItalianFWT.  

Here are the topics that we will be discussing:

Stews, Venison, Game Meat, Slow Cooker
Entrees, Stew, Game
Yield: 4 servings
Author: Wendy Klik
Venision Meatball Stew

Venision Meatball Stew

Tender Italian seasoned venison meatballs, browned and then put into a slow cooker to braise with vegetables in a tomato base. This stew is pure, delicious, comfort food.
Prep time: 20 MinCook time: 8 HourTotal time: 8 H & 20 M


  • 1/4 c. light cream
  • 2 slices bread
  • 1 lb. ground venison (or your preferred ground meat)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 t. dried Italian Herbs
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced, divided
  • 2 T. olive oil, divided
  • 2 russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 2 carrots, scraped and cut into bite size chunks
  • 2 (15 oz) cans diced tomatoes in puree


  1. Place the bread into a food processor and pulse until crumbs are formed.  Place in a bowl with the light cream and soak for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the venison, eggs, cheese, Italian herbs, salt and pepper to the bread crumbs and mix until well combined.   Form into golf ball sized meatballs and set aside.
  3. Heat 1 Tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet.  When hot add the meatballs and cook until browned all over, removing to a plate when done and cooking in batches if needed.
  4. Meanwhile, place the potatoes and carrots into the bottom of a slow cooker.  When the meatballs are all browned, place them on top of the vegetables.  
  5. Add the tomatoes in their puree into the hot skillet used for the meatballs.  Season with salt and pepper and cook, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.  Pour over the meatballs, cover and cook on low heat for 8 hrs.

Nutrition Facts



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  1. Venison stew sounds wonderful with Brunello since it's recommended with red meats or game meat. Thanks for choosing Brunello!

  2. That stew sounds magical! Yum! And yes, this has happened to me so many times before with Brunello, as well as with Nebbiolo based wines -- open them, drink them too fast, then discover hours later that the final glass or half glass is beautiful on a different level. *Sigh* Funny enough, I shared a braised pork dish to go with this wine a while back, and visiting this winery was one of our favorite stops in Italy.

    1. How fun Nicole. Thanks for sharing. I'm heading over to hear about it.

  3. Oh I'll have to get some venison sausages next time we do Brunello! Thanks for hosting.

  4. I bet the tomatoes in this venison stew made it a super pairing for Brunello. Seems to have a kinship for tomatoes! Great post, Wendy. Thanks for hosting!

  5. This sounds divine. The ultimate comfort food and perfect for fall and winter.

  6. That stew sounds incredible! I would love it and with that Brunello, what a wonderful meal.


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