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 Two

From parties to pairings, 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. Enjoy the second edition of our blog series, How Sommeliers Get Through the Holidays.

What style of wine do you bring to a holiday party?

JORGE: Bubbles!!!! Any kind. It’s always a great start to a party! 

PETE:  Fontodi, Chianti Classico Riserva, Tuscany, Italy. Because Chianti Classico needs more love and this wine over delivers every time. 

JENNIFER: It's always fun to bring a juicy Beaujolais to a party. It's a great wine to start an evening with, and often pairs well with a variety of appetizers. 

ALEX: I like to bring textural white wines such as Chenin Blanc from the Loire, Muscadet, Ribolla Gialla, or wines from the Savoie region. Whites can get cast to the side a bit in the winter months, but a nice bottle of Chenin will go well with a wide array of finger foods. 

GINA: Champagne. It's a sure way to liven up the party and it goes with everything. Rosé champagne in particular is always a crowd pleaser. 

What's your favorite Holiday food & wine pairing?

photo credit:  Edible Experiences

photo credit: Edible Experiences

JORGE: Pinot Noir and Turkey is my favorite combo, but there are many options to choose from. 

PETE: Syrah and rib roast:  Syrah has a meatiness to it that pairs perfectly with roasted meats.  Try Domaine Monier Perreol, St. Joseph for a perfect example of what Syrah can do with food. 

JENNIFER: Oysters and champagne! Nothing starts a party then fresh oysters and a bottle of delicious bubbly.

ALEX: Sherry is so overlooked for pairings! There is a sherry style for every food imaginable. Dry Amontillado or Palo Cortado styles go great with roasted meats and caramelized vegetables. The PX style is a great dessert pairing with chocolate bark. But my favorite pairing, (to mirror Jennifer) has got to be Champagne & oysters. 

GINA: If splurging is an option, anything with truffles and champagne. A raw bar with Champagne or Chablis is always delightful. 

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. 

Adventures in Team Building

Most of our clients are companies who are always looking for unique ways to increase engagement at their events, whether it's for internal teams or for their clients and partners. For this reason and because we love the creative process, we are constantly thinking of new activations, tasting a plethora of wine, and testing pairings.  We thrive on collaborating with our clients to create a memorable experience that stimulates communication and brings delight through wine.

Recently, San Francisco's destination marketing organization, San Francisco Travel, released their annual Meeting Planner's Guide and we're thrilled to be featured as a team building resource for groups meeting in San Francisco and beyond.  For your next company meeting, consider carving out some bonding time to keep your employees and partners engaged.  In our experience, wine is usually welcomed, especially after sitting through back to back presentations!

Our team of sommeliers and event professionals are based in California, New York, and Texas, but can bring these experiences to any location.  To learn more about how we can elevate engagement at your next event, contact HELLO@DOMAINESOMM.COM