Sommelier's Guide To Wine Pairing: Italian Edition

Join us as we explore the world of food and wine through the lens of sommeliers. There are always fun and unique and wine pairings to explore within each cuisine, so we asked our Wine Advisors to let us in on their favorite pairings, dishes, and styles for each cuisine. Our first edition is Italian! 


what is your favorite wine pairing with Italian cuisine?

TAMARA: My favorite, and downright naughty, pairing is fried calamari and a fizzy, cold glass of lambrusco. One with a hint of sweetness is absolutely perfect. 

PETE: Osso buco with a traditionally made Piedmontese Nebbiolo.  If it can be Giacosa Barolo, even better!

ALEX:  I am obsessed with pasta and pizza of all kinds; specifically cacio e pepe never lets me down, it's the ultimate comfort dish! I like to pair it with textural, high acid white wines (not necessarily Italian) such a Cour-Cheverny. For pizza, I like to dig up and older Rioja, the rustic spices are a great match for pepperoni. 

GINA: Branzino or Linguine con Vongole with a bright, mineral driven, white wine such a Vermentino di Gallura from Sardinia. 

pasta and wine pairing

what is your favorite style of Italian restaurant?

TAMARA: Sicilian. I love the spices, the pasta, and fresh seafood. The wines of Sicily are fantastic as well - usually well-made, and very affordable.

PETE: My favorite Italian style restaurants are the ones that make you feel at home.  One that always stands out to me is Maialino in NYC.  The cuisine is so traditionally delicious and the service is always on par. 

ALEX: I love rustic Italian cooking, I lean toward Southern Italian in style. Some favorites are A-16 in San Francisco; a wine bar / pizza joint that never disappoints! Il Bucco in New York, and Oenotri and Ciccio's in Napa Valley.

GINA: The ones that have great seafood and fresh pasta. Italian doesn't have to be heavy. I love the freshness of raw crudo to start. Grilled octopus offers just the right amount of heartiness and for me, there are few more satisfying dishes than fresh squid ink pasta with uni. Delectable. 

what is your go-to wine brand or style for Italian food?

TAMARA: I'd have to say Etna Rosso, which is usually 100% Nerello Mascalese. 94 Girolamo Russo 2008 San Lorenzo makes a beautiful, sophisticated example of this grape, and the aromatics of gently ripened cherries, granite, and smoke are dreamy.

PETE: I don't think there is any cuisine on the planet that pairs better with it's native wine than Italian. Classic Italian varieties like Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, and even Aglianico, have great acidity, which is such a key structural element in wine with food.

ALEX: I have to agree with Tamara, I am a huge fan of Sicilian wines specifically Nerello Mascalese, they have great acid are generally medium bodied and offer a lovely minerality. As for white wine, I look for Falanghina or Pecorino; they are usually a great value. 

GINA: For white, I'm a big fan of the Friuli and Alto-Adige regions. They tend to have a great balance of acidity, aromatics, and texture. Instead of Pinot Grigio, try a Pinot Bianco. For pizza, my go to is Lambrusco. Cleto Chiarli has several styles that are versatile. For a splurge, aged wines from Piemonte - Barolo is king. 

Lean on our team of Wine Advisors for more tips on wine pairings, selections and travel! Contact us to learn more at