Our Italian wine and Prosecco sale starts this Thursday, so I was inspired to have a look at matching some Italian wines with some classic Italian dishes.
Italy probably produces the most diverse range of grape varieties and wine-styles of any country, but if there is one thing which unifies all these wines, it is a common vision among winemakers to primarily produce wines which offer great food-matches with the local cuisine.
Of course, Italy has a hugely varied range of regional cuisines and a good rule of thumb is that ‘if it grows together, it goes together’, or in other words, Italian food and wine culture have evolved together over the centuries, so regional foods usually work best with wines from the same region.
All this being said, when most of us think of Italian cuisine, Pasta is the first thing that comes to mind, so that will be the focus of my recommendations.
For my first choice, I have gone with a Pinot Grigio, now I know this might not appear to be the obvious place to start, given that most Pinot Grigios are best described as being simple, light wines for easy-drinking.
A strong contender to be Ireland's favourite pasta dish; Spaghetti Carbonara.
But I implore to put those pre-conceptions aside to consider San Osvaldo Pinot Grigio (€11.95 down from €14.95), which is from vineyards in the historic Lison-Pramaggiore area just west of Venice, this is a delicious and richly-concentrated take on Pinot Grigio, ripe pear and golden apple flavours are kept in perfect balance with the crisp cool finish, making this wine a great match for the classic Spaghetti Carbonara.
The exquisite Linguine alle Vongole.
Moving away from the rich egg and cheese based sauce above, I simply must include my own favourite recipe, Linguine alle Vongole, this incredibly fresh-flavoured dish calls for a crisp white with more delicate flavours, the wine I have chosen is a benchmark Gavi (€15.15 down from €18.95), from leading winemaker, Matteo Ascheri, it is floral and fresh in fruit profile and perfect balance remains between acidity and fruit.
Italy’s red wines often have relatively higher levels acidity, which allows them to work well with the tomatoes which are such a feature so many pasta dishes.
Perfect with Sangiovese-based reds, just make sure your Arrabiata sauce isn't too angry!
Tuscany’s Sangiovese grape is for exceptionally well-suited to tomato based sauces, San Felice Chianti Classicio (€14.35 down from €17.95), embodies all that is good about Italy’s most famous wine: Intense black cherry fruit balanced by classic Chianti freshness this is just wine to pair with Penne all'Arrabbiata.
Proper Tagliatelle al Ragù; so much more than just a posh Spag-Bol !
Proper Tagliatelle al Ragù is a gutsy dish and as such will need a richly-flavoured, smooth-textured wine to stand up to it, I would be thinking of a Valpolicella Ripasso, and in particular of Bertani’s Tenute Novare (€15.95 down from €20.95), silk-smooth thanks to nine months ageing in oak, this is richer and fuller than many Ripassos, with delicious dark cherry and raisin fruit.
Our sale continues right through Saint Patrick’s weekend and finishes up at 10.00 pm on Sunday the 19th so there can be no excuse not to visit there your local O’Briens store and pick up a couple of bottles, nor to dig out those Italian recipe books and get cooking.