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Cannonau: a way to longevity

Josto Miglior - Cannonau DOC - Antichi Poderi

Sardinians use to consume daily the full-bodied regional red wine called Cannonau. Cannonau wine has two to three times the level of artery-scrubbing flavonoids as other wines.

Small doses of this antioxidant-rich beverage throughout the day could explain fewer heart attacks and lower levels of stress among men in this region of the world.

Another reason why Sardinians can experience these health benefits of wine is the way they consume it – always surrounded by good friends and good food.

Wine in moderation has been shown to be beneficial if consumed as part of a Mediterranean diet, which is defined by high consumption of beans, greens, nuts, olive oil, and whole grains and low consumption of meat and processed foods.

This means that wine, as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle, can be beneficial to your health. It does not mean that wine will somehow “cancel out” the negative effects of a poor diet (high in processed foods and saturated fat). 

Sardinian shepherds often walk up to five miles a day tending to their flocks and carry with them a lunch of unleavened bread, fava beans, a small bit of Pecorino cheese, and a generous supply of local Cannonau wine.

Cannonau Grape

Daily activity is built into the ecosystem of life in the blue zones areas – every trip to the store or to a neighbor’s house occasions a walk.

Centenarians move naturally all day long and according to a study completed by the European Society of Cardiology, moderate wine drinking and regular exercise is a combination that can be protective against cardiovascular disease.

In another study published in The Journal of Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease, those who consumed alcohol at least once a week (hello, Wine @ 5), had a significantly better cognitive function in old age than those who did not drink at all.

Besides these more focused studies above, other research backs up the link between wine intake and a reduction in all-cause mortality. Moderate alcohol consumption (especially with meals and friends) could help you not only de-stress and loosen up, but also live longer.

Article was written by Aislinn Leonard for Blue Zones

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Cannonau, the Sardinian Grenache

Map of Grenache
Map of Grenache (illustration by Marcello Crescenzi)

Until a few years ago it was said that the Cannonau was imported from Spain, where it is still called Garnacha, around 1400. Recent discoveries have shown that the Sardinian vine lives in Sardinia from 1200 BC. and that from there it would have spread throughout the Mediterranean basin.

Scholars and experts agree that, from a genetic point of view, the Cannonau coincides for 80% with the Spanish garnacha and the French grenache (which, on the other hand, are totally genetically superimposable with each other).

One thing is certain: if we consider grenache as a large family where all the varieties mentioned live together, this is present in the world with something like more than 200 thousand hectares of vineyards. And the number is destined to grow.

A growing success that, for many, represents a valid third way between the prestigious Bordeaux wines on the one hand (captained by cabernet sauvignon and merlot that gave rise to Bordolese cuts in the world) and the wines of Burgundy that many dream of to be able to imitate cultivating the prestigious pinot noir.

Cannonau Grape
Image by stevepb on Pixabay

The success of the grenache. The reasons

The reasons for the success of grenache are different. On the one hand we talk about varieties that adapt very well to warm climates; on the other we talk about wines that – if vinified with experience and modern techniques – are able to give more and more finesse, elegance, great drinkability and a fresh and fragrant aroma, of crunchy fruit, flowers and spices.

“The beauty of Cannonau is the aromatic originality – says Lorenzo Landi, an important oenologist-consultant who has been following the winegrower Giuseppe Gabbas for several years, in Nuoro – He gives life to a very clear wine, which tastes like red rose, fleshy, a delicate tannin, which closes soft and velvety, juicy but not sweet, and with evident Mediterranean notes. It is an isometric vine – he continues – therefore it maintains the same water potential under different conditions and when the bunch goes into stress it does not lose water. This is why it is suitable for hot climates. It is neither rich in polyphenols nor in color, the skin is thin, it gives a delicate and elegant wine, more than powerful and structured “.

For many it is the perfect glocal vine. Therefore, through its adaptation, it is able to grow in many areas of the world with more or less mild climates, as some international varieties have done in the past; but also able to acclimatise to such a point as to be able to give the glass a lot of territoriality, transmitting climate, microclimate and the characteristics of the soil in which the plants are grown.

In Sardinia, for example, the granitic decaying grounds are very suitable for Cannonau; the ancient cultivations see the ideal breeding in alberello, capable over the years – with the aging of the vines – of very low yields per hectare.

The Barbagia and the Ogliastra are undoubtedly the sub-regions where the vine is most widespread and within these we find minor areas capable of transmitting particular micro-territoriality: we talk about Mamoiada, for example, as well as Oliena, Jerzu and Dorgali.

But in Italy the variety is also found in Umbria: here it is called Gamay del Trasimeno or Perugino. In Veneto the name of grenache is Tai Rosso; in Tuscany, there is the Alicante, in Liguria the Guarnaccia and in the Marche the Bordò.

And it is precisely on the names that the perplexities of the scholars are concentrated: not so much on the Italian meanings (where the nomenclature has sometimes been tainted by dialectal inflections and sometimes by errors of confusion with other varieties), but by their comparison with the name, now widespread at the international level, of grenache.

Image by AnnaliseArt on Pixabay

The origins of the name grenache

Gianni Lovicu, researcher Agris (agency of the Sardinia Region for scientific research in the agricultural and forestry sector) and researcher of different grape varieties in Sardinia among which the Cannonau has his own idea: “While from the genetic point of view there are some similarities and even under the ampelographic plan it is difficult to find differences, but it is difficult to explain why such a different name: the term grenache derives from Vernaccia and appears for the first time in medieval documents associated exclusively with white wines, such as Moscato and Malvasia, wines in aromatic, sweet and alcoholic genus. So the Cannonau, at least from the linguistic point of view, would have a history of its own. But despite this – continues Lovicu – it would be ideal to exploit the vehicle of the success of Grenache-Garnacha in the world and at the same time to assert the peculiarities of our territories that give, evidently, different products and very often the result of vinification in purity (or maximum with additions of small percentages of other grapes) to witness the vocation of some areas for this grape “.

Read Giuseppe Carrus original article (italian) on the Gambero Rosso website

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A trip to Barbagia, a journey through time

Sardinia: small towns of Barbagia

article written by IAIA Stories

Tacchi of Barbagia

The journey in the heart of Sardinia, especially in Barbagia, is a journey through time.

A journey through woods and limestone mountains, the “Tacchi”, which I imagined were those of the sandals of the ancient Sylvans, who surely still live in these parts, a journey into the simple and strong flavors of the rustic food of the Barbagia countries that , through the arts of viticulture, craftsmanship and hospitality, entertain a dense dialogue with traditions still very vivid, sometimes dark and disturbing, more often joyful, like a dance.

We stopped in Barbagia four days, based in Oliena at the beautiful Guthiddai farmhouse, to visit Mamoiada, Orgosolo, Nuoro, and take a mountain hike.

Then, however, there was also a pleasant “out of program” in Bitti, a barbaricino village famous for its singers (“Tenores di Bitti Remunnu ‘e Locu” and “Tenores di Bitti Mialinu Pira”) and, together with Lula, infamous for some of its inhabitants particularly refractory to certain rules of the State …

The masks of Mamoiada

Museum of Masks, Mamoiada (photo courtesy of Riccardo Cepach)

In Mamoiada there is a small, well-organized museum complex with fantastic interactive installations.

In addition to the Museum of Culture and Work (where we did not go), the Museum of Masks and MATER, the Museum of Archeology of the Territory, are part of it.

In the Museum of Masks, the friendly (and very active) director explains everything, not only the Mamuthones of Mamoiada and their antagonists, the Issohadores, but also the Boes and the Merdules of Ottana and many other zoomorphic and grotesque Mediterranean masks that recall the Krampus of Tarvisio, the terrifying Geros of the island of Skyros, the Kurent of Slovenia, and so on.

Sardinian Mask
Sardinian Mask

The ancient communities of shepherds and peasants believed that the masks had the power to influence agricultural production and livestock life, therefore, during the barbaricino carnival, they were welcomed and favored with offers of food and drink.

Both museums are worth a visit! The cumulative ticket, which allows access to the entire pole, costs 10 euros, while single tickets cost 4 euros the whole and 2.50 euros the reduced (groups, seniors and school children).

Read IAIA Stories original full article (italian)

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Aubergines dead in oil

It is a sad story that of the aubergines died in oil (in Sardinian: Perdingianu mortu in s’ollu).


The story tells of the death of two aubergines smothered with extra virgin olive oil.

Legend has it that, being very tasty, the two poor aubergines were washed, dried, deprived of their head and cut in half lengthwise by a cruel aubergine eater.

Then their pulp was cut into squares and garlic and parsley were placed between them.

But, not yet satisfied with the crime, the aubergine eater completed the work by placing a large pan on the stove, adding plenty of extra virgin olive oil, placing the eggplant pieces on it and pouring extra virgin olive oil on them.

After this, she lit the stove on a moderate flame and covered the aubergines with the lid.

The cooking lasted for about 40 minutes. After cooking, the two aubergines were placed on a colander, ten minutes per side, to remove excess oil.

At this point they were eaten. Notice the cruelty of the aubergine eater, towards the end of the video, while sinking the cold steel of the fork into the meat of the aubergines. No Country for Aubergines.

video courtesy of Le Ricette Di Mami camartamc

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Pasta with Bottarga – Original Sardinian Recipe

Pasta with Bottarga
Spaghetti with Bottarga

Pasta with Bottarga is a simple first course, genuine and quick to prepare.

Although it requires only four simple ingredients, it is a complete meal, thanks to the nutritional properties of pasta, extra-virgin olive oil, butter and Bottarga (salted and dried mullet roe).

The origin of Bottarga is very old and seems to be Phoenician or, more likely, Shardana.

You can prepare it with the mullet Bottarga, with a more delicate taste, or with the tuna Bottarga, a decidedly more intense flavor typical of Carloforte’s cuisine.

Let’s go cook it

Preparation Time: 8 to 10 minutes – time to boil the pasta

Cooking Difficulty: very easy

Ingredients (serving 4 people)

  • 15 ounces italian spaghetti (Voiello n. 104 recommended)
  • 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 butter curls
  • a clove of garlic
  • 6 tablespoons of Bottarga


Step 1

Fill a pot with 4 liters of water (about a liter for every 3.5 ounces of pasta) and bring to a boil.

Step 2

Prepare a large bowl in which we are going to season pasta. Cut the garlic clove into two parts. Rub the inside of the bowl vigorously with the two halves of the garlic cloves. Throw away the garlic (we do not need it anymore).

Put the oil, the butter, the bottarga in the bowl and mix everything gently.

Step 3

When the water reaches the boil, add salt and the pasta. Stir well, especially at the beginning, to prevent spaghetti from sticking to each other.

When they are cooked (it takes about 10 minutes but it is better to taste them) drain the spaghetti and transfer them in the bowl you’ve prepared before. Add a ladle of cooking water to the spaghetti and stir well.

Step 4


Put the spaghetti on flat plates and add another teaspoon of Bottarga on each plate before serving.

Step 5

Enjoy your Pasta with Bottarga.

Wine recommendations: Spumante Torbato Brut, from Sella e Mosca wineries. Serve at 53°F.


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Sardinia when to visit

When to visit Sardinia? The most obvious answer would be: in the summer.

But the island offers fantastic itineraries even in the other seasons of the year, starting from the numerous food and wine tours, up to the naturalistic excursions.

You will love the sunsets of late September, when the air is light and sparkling and the summer leaves its last caresses on the skin (Sardinian summer starts in mid-May and lasts until late October).

click to book a trip to Sardinia

Some things not to be missed

Sardinian Horse
La Giara – Sardinian wild horse

The Giara Park, located in the homonymous plateau, where the wild spirit of nature still persists in the elegant silhouettes of wild horses and in the enveloping scents of the numerous endemic species of colorful flowers and centenarian trees.

Nuraghe di Barumini
Reggia Nuragica di Barumini

Near the park is the Reggia Nuragica of Barumini, perhaps the most complex and famous of the numerous archaeological sites (there are more than seven thousand) , legacy of the ancient civilization that lived in these places since prehistoric times.

traditional Sardinian jewelry
Photo Courtesy of Autunno in Barbagia, Bitti

To must see at least a couple of the numerous festivals and cultural events in which the cultural and gastronomic tradition of Sardinia is the guest.

Trenino Verde
Trenino Verde (green little train)

 Il Trenino Verde (Green Train), which will take you, slowly and gently, to immerse yourself in the heart of Sardinia between pristine forests, granite peaks and rocks and a whole series of breathtaking landscapes.

So: when to visit Sardinia?

In my opinion the best time is September, when the crowds of holidaymakers are long gone but the island offers itself generous and in all its beauty to the visitor.

Not to mention that September is low season, therefore, not only peace and quiet, but also a substantial savings in prices for accommodation and restaurants.

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Sa Cassola (Sardinian Fish Soup)

Sa Cassola, a typical dish of Cagliari, is a rich and tasty fish soup that brings to the table the scent of the pristine sea of Sardinia.

Sa Cassola








Preparation Time: 45 minutes

Cooking Difficulty: easy

Ingredients (serving 4 people)

  • 5 – 6 pounds assorted fish (dogfish, eel, grey mullet, skate, sea bass, gurnard, sea scorpion, sea bream, baby squid, cuttlefish, octopus, crab, and lobster)
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tuft of parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 pound ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped or small tin Italian plum tomatoes.
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • chili to your taste
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


Step 1

Clean the fish, wash them in plenty of salted water and pat dry. Cut off their heads. Cut the larger fish into pieces, and the lobster tail into small pieces; split the body of the lobster in half.

Step 2

The fish stock: put the fish heads in a pan with a little salt and water to cover; bring to the boil and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Strain and set aside.

Step 3

In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a very large pan and fry the garlic and parsley. When the garlic begin to change color add the tomatoes and stir well; then pour in the wine and cook until reduced.

Stir in a good 1/2 cup of the hot fish stock, the baby squid and the cuttlefish (roughly chopped) and the octopus (cut into strips).

Season to taste with salt and chili. Let these cook for 20 minutes, then add the rest of the firmer fish, followed by the lobster 5 minutes later.

Simmer very gently for 15 minutes, then gradually add the remaining fish.

Add another cupful of the fish stock, cover the pan and simmer very gently for a further 15 minutes, or until all the fish are tender. check seasoning.

Step 4

Put a slice of crisply fried bread in the bottom of each soup bowl (traditionally, ships’ biscuits were used). Pour over the fish and stock, and serve at once.

Step 5

Enjoy Sa Cassola.

Wine recommendations: Vermentino Costamolino white wine. Serve at 53°F.


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Spaghetti with mussels, clams and sardinian mullet or tuna bottarga (spaghetti con cozze, arselle e bottarga sarda di muggine o di tonno)

spaghetti with mussels, clams and bottarga
Photo by Alex Favali from Pexels

Spaghetti con cozze e arselle is a typical recipe of Sardinian seafaring
cuisine. In Cagliari, people used to buy fresh clams directly from the
Villaggio Pescatori (Fisherman Village), a district of small houses, on the
beach of Giorgino, where many fishermen dwelled. They used to
showcase, on their front door, large jars full of mussels filled in part with
sea water. Nowadays, Cagliaritani buy mussels and clams from the local
market (the most famous is the San Benedetto market), the supermarket or
from the fish shop. Warning: using frozen mussels and clams in this recipe
is considered a crime against humanity and is prohibited by the Geneva

Preparation Time:  30 minutes

Cooking difficulty: easy

Ingredients (serving 4 people)

  • 18 ounce of italian spaghetti
  • 18 ounce of fresh mussels
  • 18 ounce of fresh clams
  • 4 teaspoon of grated sardinian mullet or tuna bottarga
    (the tuna bottarga has a stronger taste, the mullet roe is more delicate)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tuft of parsley
  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
  • chili (optional)
  • powerful arms to wash mussel shells

buy sardinian mullet bottarga


Step 1

clean the mussels (mussels only, not the clams).
Start the cleaning process with the removal of the “bisso”, a small ‘beard’
that appears between the two shells (and which keeps the mussels
anchored to the rocks).
Now let’s move on to the scraping: using a hard scraping brush and
keeping the mussel preferably under running water, rub it vigorously to
remove the encrustations.

Step 2

The sautè.
Finely chop the garlic and parsley. In a large saute pan over medium-high
heat, add the extra virgin olive oil and warm up. Add the garlic, the parsley
and sauté it, stirring, for 1 minute, then turn off the stove. In a separate pan put the mussels, clams and, if you’re planning to burn your mouth, the chili. Cook until the mussels and clams
have opened (those that do not open should be thrown in the trash or be
saved for your mother-in- law), then turn off the stove and remove the
mussels and clams from the pan. Both mussels and clams: half of them
must be removed from the shell, the other half should be left with the shell.
Now in the pan you should have the water released from the mussels: we
will use it, filtered, to finish cooking the spaghetti.

Step 3

Cook spaghetti.
Take a large pot; fill it up to three quarters of water and bring to the boil.
When the water is boiling add the salt (be careful because the water from
the mussels, which we are going to use to finish up, is already salted on its
own). Add the spaghetti, immersing them completely in boiling water by
gently pushing them from the end (use a ladle as you might want to avoid
getting your hand boiled up). Stir the pasta to prevent the spaghetti from
sticking to each other.
Meanwhile, put the pan with the garlic and parsley  on the stove, add the mussels water and bring to the boil.
Drain the spaghetti halfway through the cooking time and transfer them to
the pan with the mussel water and finish cooking; when they are almost
cooked, add the mussels and the clams, both with and without shells, and
stir well.

Step 4

Put the spaghetti on the plates, making sure to distribute the mussels well.
Sprinkle with the bottarga, a teaspoon for each plate, and serve.


Step 5

Enjoy your spaghetti.

Wine recommendations: Terre Bianche, a dry white Torbato from Sella e
Mosca wineries. Serve at 53°F.