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! 

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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 wine@domainesomm.com.

How Sommeliers Get Through the Holidays Pt. 3

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 last edition of our blog series, How Sommeliers Get Through the Holidays.

What's your go-to Champagne alternative? 

JORGE: Blanquette de Limoux, which not only is easy to find, but way less expensive and still has that French flavor! 

PETE: You can always look to Cremant d'Alsace, Franciacorta, Cava and even Prosecco for great value. There are many great alternatives but to name a few:

Francois Chidaine, Vouvray, "Petillant Natural," Loire Valley, France.
Analemma, "Atavus-Blanc de Noirs, Columbia Gorge, Washington
Gruet, Brut, New Mexico
Jansz, Brut Rose, Tasmania, Australia  

JENNIFER: Cremant de Loire, it's crisp and fresh! Outside of France, I think there is great Cava and Prosecco to be found. Both regions, in Spain and Italy respectively, are producing beautiful, dry wines, often for a fraction of Champagne prices. 

ALEX: I usually go for a high end Cava such as the Naveran "Dama", Raventós i Blanc or Gramona Brut Nature Gran Reserva. 

GINA: Franciacorta, Italy's best example of sparkling, is often overlooked and rarely disappoints. Cà del Bosco and Bellavista are good examples. For bargain sparkling made in Méthode Champenoise, I think Graham Beck Brut is a great value.

What's the your go-to for value Champagne? 

JORGE: Couple options are Robert Moncuit and Piper-Heidsieck! 

PETE: Bereche & Fils, Brut Reserve, Montagne de Reims, NV and Ayala, Brut Majeur, Ay, NV.  These are both great bottles that are on the dry end for a brut, but are not overly austere.  The Bereche family has been in Champagne since the mid-19th century, having sold their grapes to larger houses.  It's only in recent decades that they started bottling their own wines and the results have been fantastic. Ayala is a smaller house with a focus on low-dosage, Chardonnay dominated bottlings.  A great discovery.  

JENNIFER: Laurent-Perrier Brut Champagne is a great bottle of bubbly, often found for less then $40! 

ALEX: Pierre Peters I simple adore. Most grower Champagnes offer a lower price point than some of the more established Champagne houses. Some can be tough to find but this one for the most part is readily available. 

GINA: Pol Roger Brut Réserve and Tarlant Brut Zero. Both are boutique producers who produce well balanced, bright, and versatile wines. 

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.