Which Wine Should You Pair Your Italian Dishes With?

We all know Italian cuisine for its rich history, diverse ingredients and kitchen practices steeped in tradition. But did you know that there are more ways than one to relish and truly indulge in the flavours of Italy? Pairing delightful and popular Italian dishes with delicious wine from the region is a sure-shot way of elevating your dining experience. The rich flavours and regional nuances of the local wines beautifully complement the diverse and vibrant tapestry of Italian cuisine, creating an immersive dining experience that transports your taste buds to the picturesque landscapes of Italy.

From delightful Italian desserts like tiramisu to comforting pasta dishes like fettuccine and chifferi, let us explore the perfect wine companions to enhance your Italian dining experience. Here are a few wine pairings that you MUST explore if you are an Italian cuisine lover (honestly, even if you are not, these options alone might just convert you).

But first things first, let us educate ourselves about the wine regions of Italy.

Italy is home to numerous wine regions, each producing distinct and exceptional wines. It’s here where rolling vineyards, ancient winemaking traditions, and a kaleidoscope of grape varieties converge to produce a mesmerising array of wines that embody the soul of Italy.

1. Tuscany

It is no secret that Tuscany is home to Italy’s most scenic vineyards and verdant rolling hills. Also known for its world-famous Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino wines, this region produces rich, full-bodied red wines with flavours of dark fruits and earthy undertones. While Chianti is made with at least 80 percent Sangiovese, Brunello di Montalcino is made with 100% Sangiovese grapes. Did you know that the Brunello di Montalcino together with Barolo and Barbaresco make up the “Three Big B’s” of Italian wine?

These Tuscan wines, with their robust and earthy profiles, harmonise exquisitely with hearty pasta dishes like Fettuccine Alfredo and Penne Arrabiata, their bold tannins cutting through the creamy richness of the Alfredo sauce while enhancing the fiery kick of the Arrabiata's spicy tomato base. And, of course, we cannot not talk about the iconic Tuscan wines and biscotti pairings. The Tuscan biscottis taste best when dipped in Vin Santo, an ambrosial sweet wine made using Trebbiano and Malvasia grapes.

Tuscan wine with biscotti

2. Piedmont

The northern region of Italy is renowned for its elegant and aromatic red wines, such as Barolo and Barbaresco. Have you ever encountered the adage, "Age like a fine wine"? Indeed, we wholeheartedly embrace the notion that this saying finds its resonance in the cherished wines of Piedmont, our very own gem. In fact, it is the distinguished Barolo that has bestowed upon itself the majestic title of the "king of wines," owing to its opulent bouquet and unparalleled fragrance.

All the Piedmont wines harmonise beautifully with Italian dishes like truffle-infused risotto or even hearty braised meats. Since they can be enjoyed young and have soft tannins, these wines make a meal more palatable.

3. Veneto

The northeastern region of Italy is famous for its sparkling Prosecco and luscious Amarone wines. Made primarily with Glera grapes, Prosecco is, quite literally, the best and most refreshing accompaniment for seafood appetisers. This sparkling wine also has hints of other grape varieties, which gives it an immense and diverse taste. In Veneto, you can also find other notable red wines, such as Valpolicella, Amarone and Bardolino, whose grapes are grown in the warmer areas, close to the Adriatic sea and Lake Garda. Pair these wines with Italian foods like aged cheese and grilled meats and behold the magic it unravels on your palate.

Venetian wine with grapes

4. Sicily

Renowned for its countless vineyards, the largest island in the Mediterranean also has the perfect weather conditions to grow wine, and rightfully so. Sicily is known for the sweetest Marsala, which is a wine fortified with brandy. Even though this wine is often used in cooking rich and caramel sauces, it can also be enjoyed as is during a chilly evening. Another famous and aromatic sweet wine from the region is Zibibbo, which has a lower alcohol content and is made using grapes that are fermented under the sun giving it similar characteristics to Marsala.

5. Emilia Romagna

Stretching across central Italy from the east to the west coast, the Emilia-Romagna region is renowned for its rich soil and biodiverse ecosystem that has supported its long history of winemaking. Among its notable contributions is Lambrusco, a sparkling red wine made from the eponymous grape variety that was first cultivated by the ancient Etruscans. Available in a range of dry to sweet styles, Lambrusco often exhibits a pleasant acidity with hints of berries. Interestingly, the versions found within the region are often more refined compared to the ultra-sweet varieties commonly exported.

Wine from Emilia Romagna with an Italian meal

These regional wines harmonise beautifully with the local cuisine, making Lambrusco an ideal companion for Emilia Romagna's indulgent dishes like succulent meats, creamy lasagna and cheesy tortellini. Additionally, the wine's qualities further enhance digestion, aiding the enjoyment of these flavorful foods. Emilia-Romagna also cultivates other dominant grape varieties, including Malvasia, Trebbiano, Barbera and Sangiovese.

Embark on a journey of taste and harmony by indulging in these idyllic pairings.

To know more about Italian food, cuisine and culture, follow us on Instagram @sorrentina_honestlyitalian.

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