He said it was dry, but I noted that it wasn't a suck-the-saliva- from-your-mouth dry. It was quite smooth and flavorful, and I really got into the aroma, never having considered it before. I didn't just sip these wines, or even drink them! I found myself wanting to pour them slowly over my tongue so I could savor them and pull out the flavors.
Another slice of bread and we tried the heavier, stronger wine, the 2003 Bodegas Breton Rioja Lorinon ($15.99), made with 80% Tempranillo, 5% Garnacha, 5% Carignan and 5% other. My brother found a scent that's familiar, but until he tastes the wine, he can't figure it out.

"Pepper!" he cried triumphantly. Zimmitti was so impressed he pulled out a sheet for us to take home, the Wine Aroma Wheel. Everything from pepper (my brother was right?) to moldy, caramelized and oxidized. It added to our experience, trying to sense what may smell like skunk, or why. Oak flavors, wood flavors and all sorts of things can add to a wine's taste and smell and give it layers. I even found that my same glass of wine would taste different after letting it sit a little and trying another slice of that lovely bread.

We were offered second tastings of something we may want to try again. It was hard to leave such a comfortable, friendly place, but I know I'll go back to try more, and buy more. Rosso Wine Shop has also teamed up with Bistro Verdu for occasional food and wine pairing events, which may resume in the fall. Can't wait for that.
July 21, 2007
Jeff Zimmitti, owner of the Rosso Wine Shop in Montrose, pours a glass of wine made from three different chardonnays from Sicily. The shop has wine tastings on Friday and Saturday nights.

Rosso is Just Right for Wine Needs
By Joanna Linkchorst

I have always purchased wine based on what the label looks like, so I was nervous and excited at the idea of going to a wine tasting at Rosso Wine Shop in Glendale.

For $10, from 5 to 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, the owner, Jeff Zimmitti, opens three bottles of wine for tasting. Each weekend features a different "flight:" Burgundy wines, barbecue wines from California, Italian, Spanish and French wines. It was just delightful.

Zimmitti has led a very interesting life, having gotten most of his experience in wines while traveling Europe as the drummer in a few bands. He is completely unpretentious and thoroughly knowledgeable. He added to his personal experience by taking courses at San Antonio Winery and completed a culinary course at Epicurean. It was while apprenticing at the restaurant next door, Bistro Verdu, that this storefront became available.

The store is softly lighted and comfortable. The walls are lined with photos from his travels and maps of various wine regions he made himself (he is also a graphic designer). The many racks of wine are perfect displays for browsing and label perusing. A few are marked with reviews from Wine Advocate or Wine Spectator. And there are even a few of his own reviews. Tucked into the back left corner is a slate-tiled bar with four inviting chairs. The night I went, the flight was Spanish wines. We were handed a large glass, a basket of thinly sliced ciabatta bread, and our first ample taste was poured. My brother asked the importance of different shapes of glasses. Zimmitti said they were, for the most part, "a way to sell more glasses," but that some allow for the wine to breathe or flavors to be held in.

We began with a Spanish champagne. Yes, I do know that technically it isn't champagne unless it's from the Champagne region in France, but that's what it feels like!

NV Cavas Castellblanch Cava Rosado ($12.99) is a sparkly pink wine, cold and refreshing, and not too sweet. Fabulous for a hot night. He told us that in Europe wines are usually labeled by the region rather than by the grapes, so he told us about the grapes, Trepat and Garnacha, and how the skins are allowed in for a longer time with the rosés, giving them their pink color.

After a slice of bread — to cleanse our palates and make us look sophisticated — Zimmitti poured us a 2003 Bodega Inurrieta Norte ($12.99), a Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot split.