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

How Sommeliers Get Through the Holidays - part one

From selecting wines for parties and pairings, to finding great values or gems worthy of a splurge; wine questions are abundant this time of year! So, we asked our wine advisors to share their tips on ways navigate the world of wine during the holidays. Here's the first edition of our blog series, How Sommeliers Get Through the Holidays.

holiday party

What do you recommend for Holiday parties that won’t break the bank?

JORGE: I think Riesling is one of the best deals, with a touch of sweetness and lower alcohol always delivers, especially from Germany! 

PETE: For white: Ponzi Reserve Chardonnay, Willamette Valley, Oregon - a very high quality chardonnay for under $30 that stands up to higher priced California bottlings. For red:  Julien Sunier, Regnie, Beaujolais Cru, France - a crowd pleaser and for some, a discovery of how fantastic Beaujolais can be when hand crafted from producers such as Sunier.  Often under $30, Beaujolais from one of the top crus can be some of the best values for red wine in the world.

JENNIFER: For big holiday parties, I look for wines from the Southern Hemisphere. You can find great Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, or a yummy red from South America without spending lots of money.

ALEX: You will always find great value in Spanish wines! Cava for a Champagne alternative, Ribera del Duero as an alternative to Cabernet, or Mencia for an alternative to Pinot Noir. But especially if you bring an older vintage Rioja, (You'll be the life of the party.) and it's usually very well priced! 

GINA: I always choose grower champagne if there's wiggle room in the budget. These bottles are labeled with RM (récoltant-manipulant) and offer tremendous value for the quality. NV Tarlant Brut Zero is my current go to value in this category. With a more limited budget, I opt for Chenin Blanc which is super versatile and can be produced in a wide range of styles, from bone dry to rather sweet. Some delicious ones hail from the Loire Valley, California, and the North Fork of Long Island. You can't go wrong with Domaine Huet. I also love Lieu Dit from Santa Barbara.

What wine do you splurge on for the holidays?

JORGE: That’s is a tough one. Any wine with age, and I mean like 20 or 30 years old, preferably from the old world. 

PETE: There are too many to choose but here are three well worth the cash.

Egon Muller, Scharzhorberger, Kabinett, Saar, Germany
Dunn, Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain, Napa Valley
An old of vintage of Domaine Jamet, Cote-Rotie, Rhone Valley, France

JENNIFER: Deep, rich red wines. I feel my biggest "splurge" during the holidays is reaching in deep of my personal cellar to find older vintages. It's the perfect time of year to share a special bottle with your close family and friends.  

ALEX: Either 1. A few bottles of older of Burgundy (especially older Chablis from a good producer). Or 2. Lots of grower Champagne and Cru Beaujolais! 

GINA: Older vintages for sure. Some of the best values for classic wines with age can be found in Barolo or Barbaresco. They're the fraction of the cost of Bordeaux and Burgundy. I've had some amazing wines from the 60's and '70s from a range of producers and they haven't failed me.  And of course, Jacque Selosse Champagne if I can find it! 

wine gifting

Need help with holiday gifting this year? Our Wine Advisors can help find the perfect wine for your clients, partners, friends or family and add a personal touch! Learn more here or contact us to get started


Fall Weather Style Whites

As the cooler weather approaches, crips whites may not sound as appealing, but at an event you will always have white-wine-only drinkers! The key is to find the right kind of white, that can offer the texture to stand up to both the heartier food and cold weather to come. Here are some regions, style and varieties to look out for this Fall.


white rioja

Yes, the Rioja region makes white wine too! These wines are generally made from the Viura grape and if from a high quality producer, these wines can have a luscious body and are a great alternative for Chardonnay fans.

sandlands chenin blanc

chenin blanc

This style of grape is made most famously in the Loire Valley in France. It's a total reflection of Fall as it's common for the variety to show a slight amber hue and its nose often screams of apples and pears. It is an aromatic grape variety that can range from bone dry to sweet on the palate. You can find great New World examples of it as well, such as this Sandlands Chenin Blanc or Lo-Fi. 


ribolla gialla

This Italian grape comes from Northern Italy, where traditionally it's made with a touch of skin contact. This technique can add body and a slight tannic grip to it that makes it feel like a light red, but tastes like a white. The California Ribolla Gialla made from Matthaisson offers this traditional style. 

oxidative champagne

"oxidative" champagne 

Bubbles are a great choice for celebrations, although not all Champagne will offer that fresh verve with brioche flavor that livens you up. There are two main techniques used to make Champagne; one being the "reductive" style wherein less oxygen is used during the winemaking process, this results in crisper fresher styles of wine.  The other style is "oxidative", with this style as you can imagine, oxygen is very much welcome,  resulting in a creamier style with a hint of caramelization, exotic spices, and dehydrated fruit flavor. A good example of this style is Bollinger or another richer style of Champagne is Aubry

wine for events

Need help finding the right wines for your next event? We can source a customized, highly curated selection of wines to match the cuisine, theme, budget or preferences! Contact wine@domainesomm to get started. 

Notable SF Event Venues

We're constantly scouting interesting venues to recommend for client events.  Recently, we did a full 2-day tour of venues in San Francisco for an east-coast based client seeking the perfect space for a reception of 100+ guests.  Several venues stood out to us as great locations for wine-centric events. Below is our recap.



Photo Credit:  One Kearny Club

Photo Credit: One Kearny Club

This space was impressive to us for it's sleek, modern feel, and rooftop patio. The space offers a full kitchen, several separate meeting spaces, a large projector, and they allow outside wine without corkage, which is a big plus! 



Photo Credit:  Wedding Wire

Photo Credit: Wedding Wire

Dirty Habit is a restaurant located on the top floor at Hotel Zelos. It offers an industrial-rustic feel and a great wine list!  They separate the space very well using their rustic barn doors, which allows for several different rooms to be utilized for wine tastings and food stations. This is also perfect for a smaller group or for private dinners. 



Photo Credit:  The Perfect Spot

Photo Credit: The Perfect Spot

Novela is a quirky cocktail bar located in SoMa. Their theme is literary and all their drinks are named after characters from classic novels.  Its vibrant colors and fun atmosphere make it a unique spot for celebrations.  They also have their own house-made punch on tap!  This could be a fun element to complement our wine experiences.

Looking for ideas on ways to make your event unique? We can help enhance your event through unique experiences, venues, and of course wine! Contact us to learn more!