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Wine and food pairing guide

The art of pairing wine and food is the key to a successful meal and the passport to the most pleasant experiences. It is the ability to create a relationship between food and wine based on the tasting and the use of the senses.
In this article, you will found a short wine and food pairing guide. I hope it will help you to allay your doubts.

Why should you put any effort into it?

If you are a food and wine lover, you are looking for the best culinary experience ever. Matching food and wine exalt the flavours of both for a most satisfying experience. This is why you should learn how to do it. I know, it is not easy!
Food and wine can give very different sensations on the taste-olfactory level, related, on one side, to the individual receptive ability; on the other, to his personal background.
In terms of pairing, there are no absolute rules; however, practising (not boring after all) is necessary.

Let’s start from the main characteristics of the wine

Firstly, you should focus on wine tasting. Take time to discover the number of sensations our mouth is able to distinguish: sweetness, acidity, salty, bitterness, followed by sparkling sensations, tannic acid, alcohol, smoothness, taste persistency, flavour persistence and body.

And what about the characteristics of the food?

When it comes to food, you should focus on sweetness, acidity, minerality and bitterness, followed by a quantity of fat, greasiness, zestfulness, spicy and persistence of taste and scent. Concerning acidity and bitterness, you should always talk about sour trend flavour and bitter trend flavour.
When it comes to sweetness, you should consider sweet trend flavour food, like pasta, bread, shellfishes, meat and all those ingredients that give a delicate sensation. Only when it comes to sugar like desserts, you should talk about real sweetness.

The goal of the game

Once identified wine and food characteristics, you should find a way to match both and create harmony.
The best way to balance food and wine is looking for a contrast of flavours. Start with specific food and select the wine that can offer the opposite sensations.
For example: if you eat a dish full in sweet trend flavour and fatness, you need a wine that will provoke strong sensations like acidity, sparkling and salinity.
A similar successful match is Parmigiano Reggiano (sweet and greasy) and Prosecco (acidity and sparkling).
When you eat something salty and/or with bitter trend or acidity, you need a wine that will provoke smooth sensations.
As an example: grilled meat (bitterness given from fire cooking) and Merlot/ Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah.
In case of very juicy and greasy sensations, you need dehydrating sensations like alcohol and tannins. As an example: stew meat and Nebbiolo.
Sugar is the only exception: in this case, you should look for similarity, not for contrast. The perfect wine for dessert is a sweet one.

Let’s recap! How to create the perfect wine and food pairing

  1.  Taste properly food and wine focusing on the organoleptic properties of both.
  2.  Identify and count sensations.
  3. Verify harmony between wine and food.
  4. Use your personal taste.

The moment of truth

Taste and enjoy. A good pairing can highlight and often improve the properties of wine and food. If your match is well done, you will probably have the best steak of your lifetime, and the best wine of course.
At this point, you will know why is impossible to order wine before food at the restaurant, as well as choose one bottle for all the guests wishing that wine could perfectly match with all the dishes ordered. To avoid this, each guest can ask for a glass that pairs with his dish. Maybe, this is not the cheapest choice, but for sure it is the best one.

What is the winning strategy at the end? Testing and tasting.

10 sweet wines to try before you leave Italy

Are you travelling to Italy and have in mind to be delighted by the amazing and affordable Italian wines and you are just thinking to Prosecco and Chianti? Be open minded and you’d be incredibly surprised. This is a very short list of wines I like to recommend to my foodie­friends travelling in Italy, surely not exhaustive of the great variety of Italian wines produced, but wines in which you can find the soul of Italian regions and traditions.
 

  • 1)Frascati Superiore (Lazio) –When in Rome you cannot miss to taste the edge of local wine. This wine is a DOCG. With an amazing straw­colour almost brilliant, with an amazing and persistent bouquet with floral scent and exotic fruit. Amazing pairing with: tonnarello cacao e pepe, fresh cheeses, shellfish. Try: Poggio Verde Principe Pallavicini (wine shop ave. price: € 12,00 bottle)

 
 

  • 2) Friuli Colli Orientali (Friuli Venezia Giulia) – the amazing elegance. Scent of hay and stones, very fresh taste rich in minerality, cedar, exotic fruit. Pairing with: soups and risotto. Try: Friuli Colli Orientali Illivio Felluga (wine shop: € 22,00 bottle)

 
 

  • 3) Chardonnay (Piemonte) – If looking for a completely different Chardonnay experience try a luxury Chardonnay produced in langhe region, in the Barbaresco area. Here every vineyard and wine producer will offer you a different wine due to the variety of soil which changes metre by metre. Be delighted by superb concentration of perfumes, mature fruit, a lively acidity and an amazing long­lasting persistency. If aged become more and more harmonic. Amazing pairing with: truffle, fish, white meat, soups and pasta. Try: Chardonnay 2013 Gaya & Rey (wine shop: € 145,00 bottle)

 
 

  • 4)Garganega (Veneto) – this lovely white wine produced with local grapes is a top expression of its land. Soil of volcanic origin, full of basalt, gives to grapes and exceptional minerality and aromatic flavour. Full in salinity. Typical straw­colour, scent of peach, apple, camomile and stone. Amazing sensations in the mouth very fresh. Perfect when paired with: pies, vegetarian meals, fried fish, chicken curry. Try: Soave Classico DOC Inama 2013 (wine shop: € 10,00 bottle).

 
 

  • 5)Vermentino (Ligura) ­ this variety, descendant of the Spanish vine present in Tuscany, Sardinia and Corsica, in Liguria produces and incredibly flavoured wine, full body and alcohol, fruity and aromatic herbs scent, lightly almond aftertaste. In Liguria more than fruity gives very delicate notes with prevalence of thymus, sage, Mediterranean scrub. Paring with: appetizers, fish, pasta. Try: Fosso di Corsano Vermentino Colli di Luni Terenzuola 2015 (wine shop: € 13,00)

 
 

  • 6)Verdicchio (Marche) – definitely one of the oldest Italian variety. Typical colour gold-green, with a typical intense almond aftertaste. Fresh and often really saline is balanced with a good alcohol quantity that makes it smooth. Perfumes of herbs, grass and fruit. Pairing with: appetizers, fried specialties, roasted fish and first courses, turkey and white meat. Try: Castelli di Jesi Verdicchio Classsico Villa Bucci Riserva 2013 (wine shop: €32,00)

 
 

  • 7)Ribolla Gialla (Friuli venezia Giulia) ­ Ancient variety that grows on hills typically flavoured as peach, pear, lavender and herbs. Complex and elegant nose. Could be your favourite wine. Very drinkable. Perfect pairing: Fish in any cooking style, appetizers, eggs, quiches, white meat with sauce. Try Ribolla Gialla Damijan Podversic 2011 (wine shop: € 30,00 bottle)

 
 

  • 8)Prosecco (Glera) Conegliano Valdobbiadene­ a status symbol and must to drink, perfect for the happy hour and more, the best Prosecco is produced on the hills in Cartizze with the Italian method Martinotti/Charmat. Dry wine with lively acidity. Inviting fragrance. Sweet acacia flowers and hazelnuts scent Perfect pairing: celebrating something. Try: Valdobbiadene Prosecco superiore di Cartizze dry 2014 Bortomiol (wine shop: € 18,00 bottle)

 
 

  • 9)Grillo (Sicilia) – Variety cultivated all over Sicily, important for production of Marsala, alone is very elegant and generous, amazing if refined in wood. Typical intense nose of candy citrus fruit. Amazing opportunity to be aged. If vinified in purity and stainless steel,become amazingly perfumed and tasty. Scent of delicate fruit and herbs. Perfect pairing:shellfishes, mussels, risotto with fish. Try : Il Grillo ’14 Feudo Disisa (wine shop: € 10,00 bottle)

 
 

  • 10)Vernaccia di San Gimignano (Toscana) ­ No Italian wine can boast a history that dates back centuries like this wine. Pale straw yellow coloured wine with golden highlights that become more evident with age. The perfume is fine and delicate, with fruity and floral scents when the wine is young. As it matures and ages, it develops the characteristic mineral scent of flint. It is a dry, harmonious and savoury flavoured wine. Amazing capacity for ageing. Pairing with: “Ribollita” soup and all variants of this found throughout Tuscany. Fish dishes any style. Fried food and eggs. White meats and medium mature cheeses. Try: Vernaccia di San Gimignano Sanice Riserva 2012. (wine shop: € 12,00 bottle)

 
 
Daniela Cassoni, Foodie & Founder @ www.gourmetaly.com, wine & travel expert.

10 Italian white wines to try before you leave Italy

Are you coming to Italy? Are you looking forward to tasting Prosecco and Chianti? Be open mind and you will be incredibly surprised!

In this shortlist I want to recommend the best 10 Italian white wines to my foodie friends traveling all over the country. Surely, it does not include the great variety of Italian wines, but it consists of wines in which you can find the soul of Italian regions and traditions.

  1. Frascati Superiore (Lazio)

    When in Rome you cannot miss tasting the edge of local white wines.Color: straw color, almost brilliant.
    Taste: Persistent bouquet with a floral scent and exotic fruit.
    To pair with: tonnarello cacio e pepe, fresh cheeses, shellfish.
    Category: DOCG.
    Try: Poggio Verde Principe Pallavicini (wine shop ave. price: € 12,00 bottle).

  2. Chardonnay (Piemonte)

    If you are looking for a completely different Chardonnay experience, try a luxury Chardonnay made in the Langhe region (in the Barbaresco area).
    Here, every vineyard and wine producer will offer you a different kind of wines, due to the variety of soil that changes meter by meter.
    Taste: superb concentration of perfumes, mature fruits, a lively acidity, and amazing long-lasting persistence. If aged, it becomes more and more harmonic.
    To pair with: truffle, fish, white meat, soups, and pasta.
    Try: Chardonnay 2013 Gaya & Rey (wine shop: € 145,00 bottle).

  3. Friuli Colli Orientali (Friuli Venezia Giulia)

    Taste: Scent of hay and stones, very fresh, rich in minerals, with the flavor of cedar and exotic fruit.
    To pair with: soups and risotto.
    Try: Friuli Colli Orientali Illivio Felluga (wine shop: € 22,00 bottle).

  4. Garganega (Veneto)

    This lovely Italian white wine, produced with local grapes, is a top expression of its land. The soil of volcanic origin, full of basalt, makes the grapes rich in minerals, and it gives an aromatic flavour to them.
    Color: typical straw-color.
    Taste: Full in salinity, the scent of peach, apple, chamomile, and stone. Very fresh.
    To pair with: pies, vegetarian meals, fried fish, chicken curry.
    Try: Soave Classico DOC Inama 2013 (wine shop: € 10,00 bottle).

  5. Vermentino (Liguria)

    This variety descends from the Spanish vines that you can find in Tuscany, Sardinia, Corsica, and Liguria, and it produces incredibly flavored wines.
    Taste: full body and alcohol, fruity and aromatic herbs scent, lightly almond aftertaste. Delicate notes with the prevalence of thymus, sage, Mediterranean scrub.
    To pair with: appetizers, fish, pasta.
    Try: Fosso di Corsano Vermentino Colli di Luni Terenzuola 2015 (wine shop: € 13,00).

  6. Verdicchio (Marche)

    This white wine is definitely one of the oldest Italian ones.
    Color: gold-green.
    Taste: typical intense almond aftertaste. Fresh and often very saline, it is balanced with good alcohol quantity that makes it smooth. Perfumes of herbs, grass, and fruit.
    To pair with: appetizers, fried specialties, roasted fish and first courses, turkey and white meat.
    Try: Castelli di Jesi Verdicchio Classsico Villa Bucci Riserva 2013 (wine shop: € 32,00).

  7. Ribolla Gialla (Friuli Venezia Giulia)

    This is an ancient variety of white wines that grow on hills.
    Taste: peach, pear, lavender, and herbs. Complex and elegant nose.
    To pair with: fish in any cooking style, appetizers, eggs, quiches, white meat with sauce.
    Try: Ribolla Gialla Damijan Podversic 2011 (wine shop: € 30,00 bottle).

  8. Prosecco Conegliano Valdobbiadene (Veneto)

    Prosecco is a status symbol and a must to drink, perfect for the happy hour. When in Italy, you should try the one produced in Cartizze with the Italian method Martinotti/Charmat.
    Taste: dry wine with lively acidity. Inviting fragrance. Sweet acacia flowers and hazelnuts scent.
    To pair with: celebrating something.
    Try: Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore di Cartizze Dry 2014 Bortomiol (wine shop: € 18,00 bottle).

  9. Grillo (Sicilia)

    This variety of Italian white wines is cultivated all over the Sicily, and it is important for the production of Marsala. Alone, Grillo is very elegant and generous, amazing if it is refined in wood.
    Taste: intense nose of candy citrus fruit. If vinified in purity and stainless steel, it becomes amazingly perfumed and tasty. The scent of delicate fruit and herbs. Amazing capacity for aging.
    To pair with: shellfishes, mussels, risotto with fish.
    Try: Il Grillo ‘14 Feudo Disisa (wine shop: € 10,00 bottle).

  10. Vernaccia di San Gimignano (Toscana)

    No Italian wine can boast a history that dates back centuries like Vernaccia di San Gimignano.Color: pale straw yellow with golden highlights that become more evident with age.
    Taste: perfume fine and delicate. Fruity and floral scents (when the wine is young); the mineral scent of flint (when it matures). It is a dry, harmonious and savory flavored wine. Amazing capacity for aging.
    To pair with: “ribollita” soup and all variants of this found throughout Tuscany; fish dishes; fried food and eggs; white meats and medium mature cheeses.
    Try: Vernaccia di San Gimignano Sanice Riserva 2012 (wine shop: € 12,00 bottle).

10 Italian red wines to try before you leave Italy

If you are coming to Italy, and you are looking forward to tasting the amazing and affordable Italian red wines, this list is for you.

It is a shortlist of Italian red wines I like to recommend to my foodie friends who are traveling all over the country. Surely, it does not include the great variety of Italian wines, but it consists of those kinds of wines in which you can find the soul of Italian regions and traditions.
Here you are the top 10 Italian red wines you should try before you leave.

  1. Amarone della Valpolicella (Veneto)

    With its intense spicy taste, this wine is like a serenade to a lover.
    It is produced with a particular process starting from grapes partially dried, then fermented until all sugars turn into alcohol. The result is a full-bodied wine with a high level of alcohol (often over 15°) and elegant tannins, suitable for long aging.
    To pair with: herb cheeses, gorgonzola, smoked cheeses, risotto Milanese style.
    Category: DOCG.
    Try: classic Campolongo di Torbe 2009 Masi (wine shop ave. price: € 98,00 bottle).

  2. Barolo (Piemonte, Langhe e Roero)

    This wine is produced with grapes of high hills, and it is very different according to the year of harvest, the location of the vineyard and the age of the plants.
    Taste: amazing nose with complex and intense sensations of red flowers, black cherries, licorice, tobacco, spices, and balsamic herbs. It is smooth and strong at the same time, with powerful and rounded tannins.
    To pair with: Brasato al Barolo (meat marinated in wine), roasted lamb, Grana Padano cheese, Parmigiano Reggiano, grilled beef.
    TryBarolo Bricco Boschis Vigna San Giuseppe Riserva 2009 (wine shop ave. price: € 85,00 bottle).

  3. Barbera (Piemonte)

    Taste: strong acidity able to balance a high content of alcohol. Its flavor is powerful and elegant at the same time, with typical cherry and red fruits flavor turning with age to spicy and cinnamon, sometimes licorice and mushrooms.
    To pair with: sheep cheeses, pig’s trotters, carpaccio, tortellini, boiled meat, taleggio cheese, fontina.
    TryBarbera d’Asti Superiore Nizza 2012 Olim Bauda (wine shop ave. price: € 25,00).

  4. Brunello di Montalcino (Toscana)

    Taste: soft rounded tannins, salinity, moderate alcohol, splendid nose sensation of roses and red fruit followed by mineral notes and licorice.
    To pair with: pork, roasted meat (duck, chicken), hare, pecorino Romano.
    Try: Brunello di Montalcino Montosoli 2010 Fattoria Altesino (wine shop: € 35,00 bottle).

  5. Sangiovese (Emilia Romagna)

    Taste: fruity nose with the sensation of black raspberry, spices, and wood. Nice salinity, full-body, elegant tannins, and spicy aftertaste.
    To pair with: pasta al ragu, meat, aged cheeses, game meat.
    Try: Sangiovese AVI riserva 2010 San Patrignano (wine shop ave. price: € 16,00 bottle).

  6. Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramane (Abruzzo)

    To pair with: smoked beef, Alto Adige speck, smoked prosciutto, spaghetti al ragu, roasted lamb, pasta amatriciana, sausages.
    Try: Colline Teramane Pieluni Riserva 2010 Illuminati (wine shop ave. price: €22,00 bottle).

  7. Aglianico del Taburno (Campania)

    Taste: delicate nose fresh grass and wild flowers.
    To pair with: fish and meat.
    Try: Vigna Cataratte Riserva 2008 Fontanavecchia (wine shop: € 25,00 bottle).

  8. Frappato (Sicilia)

    Taste: fresh and delicate wine lively and persistent with fruity sensations.
    To pair with: roasted chicken, pasta with meat sauce.
    Try: Il Frappato 2013 Occhipinti (wine shop ave. price: € 25,00).

  9. Etna Rosso (Sicilia)

    This wine comes from the vineyards that grow on volcanic soil, and it is full of minerals. Taste: red fruits, aromatic herbs, and salt.
    To pair with: pecorino romano, pecorino sardo, escalopes with marsala, tripe.
    Try: Etna Rosso San Lorenzo 2013 Girolamo Russo (wine shop ave. price: € 38,00).

  10. Sagrantino (Umbria)

    Taste: powerful and intense nose very complex. Fruity and aromatic herbs, cherry, mint, and oregano. Full body, persistent taste. It needs a long refinement in the bottle.
    To pair with: roasted meat, red meat, braised, hare and aged cheeses.
    Try: Montefalco Sagrantino Chiusa di Pannone 2008 Antonelli (wine shop ave. price: € 30,00).