Our story

I’m since many years in the fresh organic export field and the time came to bring Sicilian artisan produce closer to the consumer. Sicily Wine & Dine is a webshop for you who is looking for authentic products, non industrialized, limited production, organic, and for those who has the passion of quality wines and gourmet foods.

The idea of Sicily Wine & Dine is to help local producers on the market. Following similar philosophy to local Fair Trade with no speculation on the food and wine, transparency, help small- and middle sized local producers to be seen globally and to give the best choices to our customers. Everything is tested and tasted before being presented on this platform. It is the same philosophy I have been working with in the organic export field and aim to bring it with here.

It all started 2016 because of a Sicilian organic tomato sauce produced with few natural ingredients. I discovered how difficult it has become to launch products with limited production on the market as much has become industrialized, bulk produced and standardized. The idea of creating a direct platform from Sicily started to grow and the first sketches began to take shape.

My name is Johanna Sofia Siljehagen. I’m the founder and investor of Sicily Wine & Dine. A Swedish organic and tourism entrepreneur in Sicily since 2007, living an organic and sustainable life. Welcome to the Sicilian family dinner!

Food bring people together, wine makes people talk – Sicily Wine & Dine

 

The Story of our Logo

Sicily Wine & Dine’s logotype has three different tiles and two colors, each with a special meaning. The colors yellow and sea blue represents the powerful Sicilian sun and the sea, the main keys to the rich, colorful and tasteful Sicilian produce.

The logo has different tiles as ceramic in Sicily is a core product. Caltagirone, just 70 km west from Catania, is Sicily’s ceramic city where original ceramic produce is located. Every design on vases, plates and tiles tells a story. This platform is to follow and embrace Sicilian traditions by having a story behind every step.

The first tile – Wine:

The official version is that Greeks brought the wine to Sicily 8th century B.C. The wine Greeks produced in Greece did not taste very good and when the Greeks discovered fertile Sicily they began to grow their wine here instead for better quality and taste. According to Greek legend it was Dionysus who brought the wine to Sicily. When arriving to Sicilian shores after a long journey across the seas, the God of wine brought with him a wine he carefully protected along the way. When he finally got to Sicily he planted the first vineyard at Naxos, today known as Giardini-Naxos, the first greek colony in Sicily.

However the Greeks weren’t the first to make wine in Sicily. Archeologists have found evidence that the island’s inhabitants were drinking wine as far back as the 17th century B.C. When the Greeks arrived to Sicily they brought with viniculture techniques, pruning styles and a varietal selections. They created better quality and larger quantities of wine.

Wine has become one of the most important products in Sicily and Vendemmia, the wine harvest, is the most important harvest time of the year on the island. Sicilian wines have very high quality since much is handmade from cultivation and refining to production. It is easy for Sicilian farms to produce e.g. organic wines as Sicily, thankfully, failed to be industrialized.

The second tile – Fish:

Fish and other seafoods are a key element in the Sicilian cuisine. Much of what is served is fished by local fishermen in colorful traditional Sicilian boats and purchased directly by local fish markets, restaurants and hotels. In Catania you find one of the best fish markets at the south end of Via Etnea, open early every morning (except Sundays), where you can start your day with fresh oysters and a glass of Prosecco.

The fish tile tells two important stories from Sicily, one from the mythological era, ColaPesce. And the other is a true event, Stocco alla Ghiotta:

ColaPesce Legend – The man who holds up the Sicilian island

Cola was a boy who loved the sea and spend most of the days swimming and diving. His mother told him that soon he will turn in to a fish, she was not very passionate about her sons hobby. Cola was excited about all the things he discovered in the sea and told everyone fascinating stories. One day the stories reached the king of Sicily that time, Federico II. He got curious about the boy and asked him to dive as deep as he could to find out what holds the Sicilian island up. When he came back Cola told the king that Sicily is held  by three columns but one of them has been damaged by a furious fire. Sicily risks to collapse into the sea.

The King and inhabitants got very afraid and asked Cola for help to dive deeper to see what could be done to avoid this. Even if Cola knew diving that deep was very risky, he decided to help his people. Cola sadly never returned. Everyone said he has become half man and half fish, and remained under the sea supporting the third column preventing Sicily to be submerged by the sea.

Cola = Boys name, Pesce = Fish in italian

Stocco alla Ghiotta

Pesce Stocco alla Ghiotta or alla Messinese is an ancient Sicilian recipe with Scandinavian origins. After a terrible earthquake 1908 in Messina area, Sicily received aid from many countries and Norway sent a ship loaded with dried cod. Sicilians did not know how to prepare the fish, but created a dish with a mix of this Norwegian fish and Sicilian ingredients. This way one of the most traditional Sicilian dishes was born. Today dried cod is used in several Sicilian dishes and is a part of the local cuisine. The recipe below (borrowed from Chef Roberto Marotta, Nodo Restaurant, Toronto):

Ingredients:

• 900 g stockfish (dried cod)  • 1 white onion, finely chopped  • 4 potatoes, cubed  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped  • 900 g peeled tomatoes  • 1 cup white wine  • 56 g salted capers (rinsed)  • Handful of Sicilian green olives (pitted)  • Salt and black pepper to taste.

Soak cod in cold water for 2-3 days. Change water once a day. Pat dry. Cut fish into 4 squares. Warm olive oil in a non-stick pot and sauté onion and garlic. When onion is golden, add fish. Then pour in wine and let reduce by 3/4. Add potatoes, tomatoes and salt and pepper. Pour in 1 cup of water and cover. Let cook for 30-45 minutes on very low heat. Remove lid and add capers and olives. Garnish with chopped parsley.

The third tile – Orange:

Citrus agriculture is one more important agricultural product in Sicily; Oranges, Lemons, Grapefruits… The red orange comes originally from Sicily and is highly requested in the world. To the islands unique geographical position, the Etna volcano’s rich minerals in the soil, the winters cold nights and warm days, makes the orange become red. If you plant a red orange tree outside Sicily, the fruit does not become red without chemical treatment.

On this platform the Orange represents export business as it is one of the main products I export all over Europe working only with organic fruit and vegetables, and of course only Sicilian produce.

Why choose Sicily Wine & Dine?

My parents taught us children from early age not to save money from foods. It is important to eat good foods as it is the key element for good health. And with good health you can fulfill your every dream in life!

Therefor quality has always been the core and the products we offer to last whilst being used every day. To ensure the highest quality every product in the range is carefully chosen having years of experience of the Sicilian produce.

The philosophy is organic and sustainability. Since the first organic products arrived to the Swedish shelves I adopted the new healthy lifestyle. But it was in Sicily the true importance of local produce and eating by seasons took form.

Already the first year I started to see changes in my health; stomach issues, allergies, cellulite, constant head aches, to name few things, disappeared. It took some adjustments to go from all available on the market to seasonal availability. In Sicily I learned how the organic foods were grown, treated and the importance to eat clean natural foods.

Due to these changes a idea started to grow: To give others the same possibility. That is the philosophy; to spread organic and sustainability thanks to the pure Sicilian produce.

Thanks to many years of experience in the organic export sector I have met several Sicilian producers  who make high quality products with limited quantity that can not be industrialized or exported. Sicily is also one of the few areas in the world going against industrialization to bring back genuine old fashion way to plant, harvest, produce and cook foods.

We in the field have noticed that the consumer is getting more informed and careful when choosing what to put on the plate due to several food frauds and speculation on foods and beverages. It has also become more difficult to trace the origins of the foods we buy due to political decisions.

To meet the new more curious and informed market, we decided to unite the Sicilian movement with consumers who are looking for genuine foods.

Many of the producers presented on this platform is people I known for years and I use these products myself.

Greeks were the ones who brought wine production and its techniques to Sicily. Then it was the Romans who exported the wine production abroad thanks to their large empire. Sicily had then a long downfall of their wine produce but has managed to become one of the most important wine producing areas in the world the past decades.

It is easy for Sicilian producers to convert to organic and biodynamic, and also to keep local produce natural, thanks to the failure to industrialize this island. It is one of the few places in the world where you can find originality and old traditions in the cuisine, traditions and culture.

Much of Sicilian wines are made by hand and original grapes are preserved, like; Nero D’Avola, Nerello Mascalese, Catarratto, Cerasuolo di Vittoria, Grillo to name few.

Recent years Sicily has become a beer producer. Several micro breweries has seen the daylight and some of them has grown to become able to export larger quantities like Il Stretto. Sicily will be a strong competitor in the beer sector the close future. Many breweries use natural and own grown ingredients which gives a unique pure flavor. The same as the wine produce.

When you buy Sicilian wines, do look for IGT, IGP, DOC, and DOCG. You find the explanations under FAQ.

Due to the rest of the world’s globalization I met difficulties to promote unique Sicilian produce. This is how Sicily Wine & Dine was born, to be able to offer traditional Sicilian produce to the world.

Welcome to the Sicilian family dinner!

Greeks were the ones who brought wine production and its techniques to Sicily. Then it was the Romans who exported the wine production abroad thanks to their large empire. Sicily had then a long downfall of their wine produce but has managed to become one of the most important wine producing areas in the world the past decades.

It is easy for Sicilian producers to convert to organic and biodynamic, and also to keep local produce natural, thanks to the failure to industrialize this island. It is one of the few places in the world where you can find originality and old traditions in the cuisine, traditions and culture.

Much of Sicilian wines are made by hand and original grapes are preserved, like; Nero D’Avola, Nerello Mascalese XXX.

Recent years Sicily has become a beer producer. Several micro breweries has seen the daylight and some of them has grown to become able to export larger quantities like Il Stretto. Sicily will be a strong competitor in the beer sector the close future. Many breweries use natural and own grown ingredients which gives a unique pure flavor. The same as the wine produce.

When you buy Sicilian wines, do look for DOC, IGT and DOCG. You find the explanations under FAQ.

Due to the rest of the world’s globalization we met difficulties to promote unique Sicilian produce. This is how Sicily Wine & Dine was born, to be able to offer traditional Sicilian produce to the world.

Welcome to the Sicilian family dinner!

Greeks were the ones who brought wine production and its techniques to Sicily. Then it was the Romans who exported the wine production abroad thanks to their large empire. Sicily had then a long downfall of their wine produce but has managed to become one of the most important wine producing areas in the world the past decades.

It is easy for Sicilian producers to convert to organic and biodynamic, and also to keep local produce natural, thanks to the failure to industrialize this island. It is one of the few places in the world where you can find originality and old traditions in the cuisine, traditions and culture.

Much of Sicilian wines are made by hand and original grapes are preserved, like; Nero D’Avola, Nerello Mascalese XXX.

Recent years Sicily has become a beer producer. Several micro breweries has seen the daylight and some of them has grown to become able to export larger quantities like Il Stretto. Sicily will be a strong competitor in the beer sector the close future. Many breweries use natural and own grown ingredients which gives a unique pure flavor. The same as the wine produce.

When you buy Sicilian wines, do look for DOC, IGT and DOCG. You find the explanations under FAQ.

Due to the rest of the world’s globalization we met difficulties to promote unique Sicilian produce. This is how Sicily Wine & Dine was born, to be able to offer traditional Sicilian produce to the world.

Welcome to the Sicilian family dinner!

Greeks were the ones who brought wine production and its techniques to Sicily. Then it was the Romans who exported the wine production abroad thanks to their large empire. Sicily had then a long downfall of their wine produce but has managed to become one of the most important wine producing areas in the world the past decades.

It is easy for Sicilian producers to convert to organic and biodynamic, and also to keep local produce natural, thanks to the failure to industrialize this island. It is one of the few places in the world where you can find originality and old traditions in the cuisine, traditions and culture.

Much of Sicilian wines are made by hand and original grapes are preserved, like; Nero D’Avola, Nerello Mascalese XXX.

Recent years Sicily has become a beer producer. Several micro breweries has seen the daylight and some of them has grown to become able to export larger quantities like Il Stretto. Sicily will be a strong competitor in the beer sector the close future. Many breweries use natural and own grown ingredients which gives a unique pure flavor. The same as the wine produce.

When you buy Sicilian wines, do look for DOC, IGT and DOCG. You find the explanations under FAQ.

Due to the rest of the world’s globalization I met difficulties to promote unique Sicilian produce. This is how Sicily Wine & Dine was born, to be able to offer traditional Sicilian produce to the world.

Welcome to the Sicilian family dinner!

Sicily is considered to have the best kitchen in Italy. Thanks to its local produce, which you find in the local markets and restaurants, Sicilians are protectors of their own traditions and are very proud of their own cuisine. In the traditional Sicilian menu you find traces from all different conquering populations during history, and every region has its own special foods and beverages.

Sicily is an important producer of olives, citrus, tomatoes, wine, salt, beans, grapes, potatoes, zucchini, eggplants, tuna, to name few of hundreds of foods varieties that grows here. In Sicily we learn to eat by seasons as everything grows here and also to stay by the table for hours, not only to eat, but also for family and friends. The general rule is to eat meat in Sicilian in-lands and fish by the shores. The table is the centerpiece where family and friends gather.

It is easy for Sicilian producers to convert to organic and biodynamic, and also to keep local produce natural thanks to the failure to industrialize this island. It is also one of the few places in the world where you can find originality and old traditions in the cuisine, traditions and culture. Sicilians are taking steps back from industry and has converted e.g thousands of hectares of wheat land to traditional wheat varieties where the DNA is as far as to 1800. This to create biodiversity, to offer healthier foods and environmentally friendlier agriculture. Unfortunately the world’s industrialization has managed to make the much needed biodiversity disappear offering just couple of standard varieties on our table.

In Sicily you find over 3000 different plants and approximately 20% are edible.

Due to the rest of the world’s globalization we met difficulties to promote unique Sicilian produce. Sicily Wine & Dine was born to be able to offer traditional Sicilian produce to the world.

Welcome to the Sicilian family dinner!

This shop is for individuals looking for genuine foods and beverages. Sicily is a great source of limited, natural and pure produce because Sicily has never been industrialized and has protected it’s traditions in this globalized world.

This shop is for those who do not want industrialised production, who wants to offer other and themselves something that not everyone has.

This shop is for those who understand nature’s course since we can not always have access to the products depending on how much the season has given each year. Sometimes a product can lack a whole year because of weather conditions.

This shop is for those who appreciate that little extra in their taste buds without having to spend too much as we work directly from producer to consumer.

This shop is for those who understands about quality and the importance food has for our health and well being.

This shop is also for everyone who wants to start this path.

Welcome!

Sicily has many great producers with many regional and local products which are typical for that area, e.g. lentils from Pantelleria, onions from Giarratana, Nerello Mascalese from Etna, pistachio from Bronte and so on…

First I look at the product by visiting the site, production areas both outdoors and indoors. I taste the products on the site and purchase them to carefully taste them “back home” with a team, combining the product with other foods or beverages. Also listening to opinions from people around who has and do not have experience in the gourmet sector.

Second I study the producers approach towards the nature, animals and people. It is important that the product has a “soul” and passion behind because you will sent and taste those elements in the final result.

Third I look at the producers love for Sicily. I like to collaborate with local producers who love their land, people and want to create a better future for Sicily.

Experts has the word (work in progress)

Fabio Cuffari, Sicily

Sommelier, FISAR Catania

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1) Who are you, and what do you do? 

2) Three advices when tasting wine?

3) Most peculiar thing wine tasters do?

4) Your favourite food and wine pairing?

Stellan Hökfelt

Writer and Developer of Know-how Food and Beverages

SWEDEN

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1) Who are you, and what do you do? 

My name is Stellan Hökfelt. I am a writer and develop know-how about food and beverages. I work for a more inclusive food and beverage communication.

2 ) Three advices when tasting wine?

Wine develops its taste and sensitivity under stillness in oak barrels, steel tanks and bottles. Wine taste is more refined if you let the bottle stand straight up a couple of days before opening it. Then open and pour avoiding too much movement, and do not spin the glass, just drink normally. Spinning the glass gives an unnatural balance between the acid and the fruitiness of the wine. In addition, you raise the taste volume which hinders you to feel the finest parts in the wine. Spinning the glass makes the wine taste more, but it’s never like drinking. Drinking the wine is the purpose of the wine, and spinning the glass does not lead to an understanding of the wine’s natural sensitive taste.

3) Most peculiar thing wine tasters do?

The most surprising is that the wine industry does not clearly understand the difference between drinking wine and tasting wine, which gives wines a style increasingly  more pleasing the wine tasters than meeting the wine drinkers. The wine is a natural product with an identity collected from nature, climate and soil. Identity and sensuality go hand in hand in our understanding of ourselves, and thus also the understanding of our world and understanding of life. Wine drinking is what gives wine understanding as calmly as possible.

4) Your favourite food and wine pairing?

Pairing food and beverages is an endless way to enjoy the world of flavors. First step is to define the wines balance between acidity, fruitiness and possibly asperity. Meet this the right way and enjoy. For example the the Swedish pickled herring’s aciditys meeting with the champagne’s acidity, or fried pork with onion sauce meeting the champagne between the saltiness in the food and the acid in the champagne, and in the champagne that meets the onion sauce sweetness, gives a delicate meeting of flavors.

Beer Expert, Ireland

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1) Who are you, and what do you do? 

2) Three advices when tasting beer?

3) Most peculiar thing beer tasters do?

4) Your favourite food and beer pairing?

Alexandra Bullpit

Owner of Vivemu Sicily, AIS Level 2 Sommelier

AUSTRALIA/ SICILY

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1) Who are you, and what do you do? 

My name is Alexandra Bullpitt, I am Australian, have been living in Italy for 20+ years and have been working in the hospitality industry for over 15. 

About a year ago I created my own travel consulting business in Sicily, with a special focus on wine and food, with the intention of sharing this unique and extraordinary island with my fellow Australians. 

Vivèmu Sicily, my business, serves as a consultant for curious travelers who wish to experience this special Italian region through authentic and original experiences.

I spend most of my time traveling all over Sicily to visit wineries, to discover exciting locations and experiences to share with my clients. I am completing my studies to become a sommelier, and also love to cook in my spare time searching for new recipes with a special focus on regional Sicilian ingredients and recipes. 

2) Three advice’s when tasting wine?

  • Don’t drink or eat strong flavors before a tasting – coffee for instance, is a big no no;
  • Professionally speaking, when you are tasting a wine it’s not about personal taste, it’s about appreciating the wine you are tasting in its specific discipline
  • Unless it’s your job, in front of a wine producer, keep any criticisms to yourself.

3) Most peculiar thing wine tasters do?

“Chewing” wine – The first sip of wine is squelched around the mouth and through the teeth to enable the tasters’ taste buds to adjust to the wine. 

4) Your favourite food and wine pairing?

Carmelo Chiaramonte (Sicilian chef) suggests trying Passito from Pantelleria, midmorning, after a swim, accompanied by a bruschetta covered with fresh tomato, Sicilian olive oil, anchovy and oregano. Try it! It’s to die for!  

My Passion for Sicily

The food world is not that complicated; You like the wine, or you do not like the wine. Stop!

Never been a fan to learn fancy wine words or follow food trends. My favorite dessert is a chocolate cake called Cuore Calda and drink a very dark strong red Nero D’Avola with it. Perhaps a cold Reisling can be a better choice to the oysters instead of champagne. Try and find what you like and how you like it, and keep it simple.

I’m from Lapland, Sweden, and got curious about Sicily when I saw a popular sicilian TV-show in Sweden, Commissario Montalbano. Impressed by the Sicilian landscape I booked a vacation trip here the next morning. When landed in Catania I decided to move here and did so 1,5 years later with no plans, didn’t speak the language and didn’t know much about this beautiful island. Here I started an export consultancy to help small- and middle sized organic producers (fresh fruits and vegetables) on the European market. This was ten years ago, I was supposed to stay just one year.

Already the first year I saw changes in my health by eating Sicilian produce and eat by the seasons. Sicilians has taught me how to eat and how food has a great impact on our health. This experience gave a business idea, to bring the same possibility to other countries.

Welcome to Sicily Wine & Dine!