Guests in my kitchen will tell you I'm very fond of humorously telling them, "I always cook with wine...and sometimes I put some in the food."
Humanity has been cooking with wine and vinegar for thousands of years so it is very much a part of us.
I begin with this because today I want to talk about Vino de Milo, a magnificent range of products I discovered in 2007 while attending the New York Fancy Food Show. Vino de Milo’s products immediately took me by surprise with the clarity of flavour derived from their uncompromising ingredient selection. In fact, I was completely shocked.
At most serious trade shows, you try a lot of products, even the ones that frankly, are very poor. BBQ sauces, salad dressings and assorted marinades belong to a category that has a lot of extremely poor products in it, but I taste them all to stay current with what’s on the market.
Almost unanimously, the sauces and condiments I taste are thick with gums, weird with additives, sweet with sugars, or have that truly evil substance: High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).
I had always hoped that ‘one day’ I would discover that rare gem of a company that has enough respect for ingredients that a truly superior product would emerge in the sauce, dressing and marinade category.
At the trade show in the summer of 2007, I found it.
A Pleasant Surprise
Stopping by a very ordinary booth manned by an active owner, I tasted a pasta sauce expecting the standard over-sweet, acidic pseudo-sauce common to even celebrity pasta sauces.
I was shocked to find deep-roasted zucchini flavours, a fresh tomato taste from diced (instead of pulverized) tomatoes, the zing of freshly-chopped onion (not onion powder) and a wine taste that was subtle but in complete harmony with the pasta sauce.
This sauce was the Tuscan Merlot Pasta Sauce from Vino de Milo. Intrigued, I began talking with owner, Jonathan Leel, about his company, his philosophy and the range of products he makes.
I was quite pleased to discover that there is zero compromise in ingredient selection when it comes to all of the Vino de Milo products. Based in Athens, Ohio, Vino de Milo is part of the movement toward healthy foods that taste great. As an example, the tomatoes, grown locally, are processed fresh…diced to retain the mouth feel of a superior product. The objectives that drive product development at Vino de Milo are centered around the integrity of the product and respect for the consumer. Those philosophies are prioritized before cost.
Most other pasta sauces are mass-produced where the tomato is heated and destroyed and additives are thrown in, all in the name of lowering costs. But this also lowers the nutritional value and the pleasure one should experience while eating. While the cost-obsessed category wrestles with the various sub-par fillers, Vino de Milo makes pure products, treated with respect for their flavours and real nutritional values, taking the high road with a fundamentally better product.
Read the Label
Take the time to read the ingredients on any label of Vino de Milo and you’ll find that not only are they qualitatively superior, but they are used in harmony to maximize flavour and mouth feel.
And the real surprise is when you actually use the product. The taste is seriously head-and-shoulders above similar products.
I say ‘similar products,’ but the fact is, Vino de Milo has gone to a lot of trouble to ensure that each of the products they make are unique in structure and ingredients. They are specifically designed to be superior and different in a very crowded marketplace.
The Bruschetta, the salad dressings, the pasta sauces, the BBQ sauces…they’re all unique individuals loaded with eye-opening flavours.
Reading the label, you’ll also notice that Vino de Milo products are infused with premium wines and micro-brewed ales. The flavours of these ingredients help lend the sauces their incredibly complex flavours and add a depth not otherwise found on the market. The alcohol is 100-percent volatized, but the subtle flavours remain.