Merry Christmas from the Wine Voyager. The year is coming to an end and we are turning the page into the new one.
2018 has seen us starting our long journey into the Italian regions and its wines. We had a deep dive into Campania , Piemonte , Umbria and Basilicata. 2019 will bring more regions and more experience .
But lets take the first step, Christmas. It’s our Holiday season , with so many traditions of food and family get together. The question is how to create the perfect pairing???
May be it is the time to uncork that great bottle of wine to celebrate with the people we love. If you celebrate Christmas Eve , Italian way , with what the Americans call “ the seven fishes” then the choises are many. Wines are made in regions that most likely have strong traditions in the kitchen as well. They were originally created to pair them with local foods; so the best choice is always to pair food of a particular cuisine with the wines from the same region. Sometime is not possible, so we need to have some creativity, but most of the time it is, like Christmas Eve.
If you are in Campania (Italy, where I am writing this blog) enjoy their whites. Start with local sparkling wine made from Falanghina or Greco, or with a rose made from Aglianico or Piedirosso. Follow with some Greco di Tufo for your pasta, the acidity of the Greco will cut trough the olive oil creating a perfect harmony. What about fried Calamari or ”frittura di pesce”; you can actually use a sparkling wine with it. The bubbles and the acidity will pair with the fried food.
What about if you are anywhere else in the World ?? You can start with an aperitif, with bubbles or with some fun refreshing wines. Try a Torrontes from Argentina, with its aromatic perfume of white flowers or try a dry moscato from Italy .. like the ones in basilicata from the Matera province. Chill them perfectly but not too much .. the aromas otherwise will be caught in the chill.
With pasta with shellfish you can use an unoaked Chardonnay, a French one from Chablis for example or from Macon. The perfect salinity and acidity for that type of dish. Do you want to try a new adventure ?? Try a great Albarino from Galicia. Made to be consumed with fish.
What are you having this Christmas Eve dinner for main dish? A light white fish like Orata or Branzino? Then use a delicate white wine that will not overwhelm your delicate dish. A Marisa Cuomo blend of Biancolella and Falanghina from the Amalfi Coast ? May be an Arneis from piemonte or if you have an Orvieto Classico from Umbria. If you are in US and are looking at your Branzino with potatoes your choises are unlimited. Try a Sancerre or a Pouilly Fume’ from the Loire Valley. Their perfumed wines and their delicate acidity will pair well with your Branzino. Are you a California wine lover? Try a Fume Blanc then .. so you can stick with a local wine.
If your dish is more consistent like a grilled swardfish or salmon? Then use some good oaked wine.. a Chardonnay from Sonoma or from Australia or why not from South Africa. Do you want to open that famous bottle of white ? Then a Cote de Beaune Chard .. it’s a perfect match. Lets not forget Italy .. some Reserva with a year or more of aging in oak. Try one from Sicily like a Cataratto. May be you want to adventure with a light red wine? Hey Pinot Noir ; does it ring the bell?? A perfect pairing with those grilled fishes. A Cote de Nuit ?? Do you have it in your cellar and you were waiting the perfect occasion .. why not Chritmas Eve 2018?? Or one from Oregon or from Cali? New Zealand as well. Try an oaked one though the smokiness of the aroma will pair nicely with a grilled fish. A good Piedirosso from Campania would pair nicely too.
And finally the final touches , the desserts? If you have a sweet tooth , this is your time of the evening. The choices are unlimited ... from Italian passitos to sweet French wines. Is there cream in your dessert then go with a Semillion based wine .. from Sautern ? Or from Australia. Their orange blossom aroma and acidity is a perfect match with cream ... Chocolate ?? Then the classic Port ? Are you eating Panettone from Lombardy then any Italian Passito goes .. try a Vin Santo from Tuscany.
And to to finish as you hug your Friends and Family before leaving??? Sparkling wine .. Spakling Wine SPARKLING WINE .... they will clean your palate and the bubbles will leave you bubbling and remembering the night as a memorable one....
MERRY CHRISTMAS EVE