As pure hedonist fellows, Italian people enjoy drinking wine with food
and it must be admitted that with such a rich range of wines and fine dishes, pairings are a delight to make.
Here are some "national" clues you might be tempted to complete later on with your preferred local-like recipes.
- Full-bodied, deep and complex red wines
That is to say, roughly: Aglianico, Amarone, Barbera, Brunello, Cannonau, aged Chianti, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Nebbiolo (starting with outstanding Barolo & Barbaresco), Negroamaro, Nerello Masclaese, Nero d’Avola, Primitivo… . Those reds have a powerful personality and are persistent on the palate. They make a perfect match with game dishes, winter stews, roasted or braised red meats, black truffle, meaty sauce pasta and ragouts (like Tagliatelle al ragù napoletano or Umbrian Agnolotti al tartufo), strong mature cheeses (like Gorgonzola or Castelmagno).
- Fresh, fruity, mid-weight red wines
That is to say young Chianti o Sangiovese, Dolcetto, Freisa, Lagrein, Nobile di Montepulciano etc.
These "lighter" reds combine with grilled white meat, salami & speck, white truffle, vegetable dishes (like traditional Tuscan ribollita), tomato or olive oil based pasta, seasoned or moderately spicy cheeses.
- White wines
Cortese, Falanghina, Pinot Grigio, Soave, Trebbiano, Verdicchio, Vermentino… any great Italian dry white wine is a smart option for the aperitif or to accompany antipasti. But more generally speaking, it suits well the Mediterranean cuisine: seafood, shellfish and raw or baked fish dishes, white meat and egg-based recipes, vegetables tempura, veggie pasta or risotto, fresh cheese.
- Rosato wines
Either plain or sparkling, rather fruity or intense, the Italian rosé pairs with appetisers but also with salmon, prawns, scallop ravioli or shellfish salad, white meat recipes, duck breast, tomato-sauced pasta and rice, creamy cheese, berries.
- Sparkling dry wines
Sparkling white wine like Prosecco, Cortese, or Franciacorta would power appetizers - bread crusts as bruschetta or anchovy and caper crostini, fried vegetables - but also light dishes, fish and seafood. By contrast, a sparkling red Lambrusco would taste wonderful with roasted or grilled meats, especially with pork.
- Sweet wines
Most of the Italian sweet wines are served as dessert wines. If both sparkling white Moscato d’Asti and sparkling red Brachetto d'Acqui actually make an excellent pairing with fruit-based and plum cakes, they’re worth tasting with foie gras or herbed cheeses also.