Cracker-wiches everywhere, Wine of the Week: 2007 Rainoldi Valtellina Superiore 'Inferno Riserva'

Cracker-wiches everywhere

About two years ago, Nabisco gave us Ritz Crackerfuls, sandwiches of crackers and semisoft cheese in several flavors, in a box that was kind of a natural-look homage to grain. The crackers are large rectangular, made-with-whole-grain or -multigrain items (the fiber content is 3 to 5 grams per serving), and bear little resemblance to regular Ritz crackers. Since then there have been several additional cheese-filling varieties. The new flavors are peanut butter, peanut butter & chocolate and "extreme peanut butter," plus "colossal Cheddar." And the box is now the bright red of Ritz boxes past and present.

Probably about the time Ritz gave us Crackerfuls, Lance introduced Cracker Creations, with grain-themed boxes holding six 1-ounce packages of a pair of cracker-and-cream-cheese sandwiches. Although some whole-grain wheat flour is present, there's only 1 gram of fiber per serving. Lance has added three new flavors: Granola with peanut butter filling, Granola with chocolate filling and 5-grain with peanut butter filling (that one has 2 grams of fiber).

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Wine of the Week

2007 Rainoldi Valtellina Superiore "Inferno Riserva"

Region: Piedmont, Italy

Price: $36 to $39

Style: Elegant, medium-bodied

What it goes with: Chicken saute, grilled lamb chops, risotto

This is an elegant expression of Nebbiolo (here called Chiavennasca) from one of Italy's smallest appellations in the mountains near the Swiss border. Valtellina has several sub-zones, the best known of which is the wonderfully named "Inferno." Giuseppe Rainoldi's 2007 Valtellina Superiore "Inferno" Riserva is definitely a keeper. Though these wines age well, this one is drinking beautifully right now, so why wait? The bouquet of flowers, cherries and leaves seduces right away, but it's the flavor and texture that stand out most - silky, with finely honed tannins and the pure taste of Nebbiolo grown high up near the Alps.

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