The Italian wine tradition has its roots in ancient times. There is such an endless quantity of cellars, labels and certified/controlled origin wines on the Italian territory that the ideal matching with food, the one that really enhances the flavor of a particular dish is more an art than a science. But how do you accompany a wine? Is it enough to pair red wines with meat and white wines with fish, or should you take a little extra care? And where does that leave rosé, frizzantini or liqueur wines? Let’s find out how to create the perfect accompaniment and give the right importance both to your wine and your dishes.
How to pair Italian wines? The definitive error-proof guide!
Lovers of Italian cuisine know well that: there is no first or second course to be respected that does not go perfectly with an Italian wine that enhances the flavor and emphasizes the main features, including the freshness of the ingredients used to prepare it. However, pairing Italian wines is not so simple: it would be easy to generalize and say “white with fish and red with meat”, but actually the Italian wine scene is so vast that to choose the suitable wine, among labels, years of aging, alcohol content and area of origin is not so simple. If you are curious to find out how to pair Italian wines, we have thought of some tips that could help you. Let’s find out more together.
Bubbles, acidity and sweetness: basic advice on how to pair Italian wines
Some golden rules for pairing wines are:
- Sweetness must be balanced with equal sweetness: desserts and cakes of any kind go well with sweet wines, passito and liqueur wines. The combination of sweet + bitter wine (like brut) will make the wine weak and the cake disgusting. Make sure not to make any mistakes. It is a good rule to use wines that are sweeter than the dessert chosen.
- With acidity, respond with an acidic wine: with very acidic foods, like a good first course with an intense sauce, it is better to respond with the same acidity in the choice of wine. If not, the chosen wine could be too bland and be covered by the taste of the dish.
- Sparkling wines are perfect for counterbalancing very greasy or strongly salted dishes, as the released carbon dioxide allows the palate to better manage the strong flavors.
Red or White? It depends on many variables
If you are wondering how to pair Italian wines you will probably have already stumbled on the rule which says fish must always be paired with Italian white wines and meats always with red wines. Nothing could be more wrong. White meats go very well with wines of the same color, while for other dishes it is better to look at the overall composition of the recipe. Very greasy dishes should be counterbalanced with acid wines or tannin, which are able to rinse the palate with each bite, balancing the taste. Extremely spicy dishes, on the other hand, should be counterbalanced with aged wines which may seem absurd, but they have a significant alcohol content and a good sugar residue, which will dull the spiciness or any other predominant aftertaste. Finally, for some very fat fish, such as salmon, particular types of red are very good.
How to pair Italian wines: everything goes, but do not forget the rosé
In trying to understand how to combine Italian wines, do not forget the existence of rosé, light and balanced extremely versatile Italian wines, which can be used as a wild card for every occasion, and a bottle should always be kept handy in the cellar. Rosé wines are excellent as an aperitif, but they also go well with risottos, light cheese dishes, and game dishes such as duck or guinea fowl. Obviously, feel free to choose the wine also based on your personal taste, but the basic advice that we have provided should already allow you to shop with more care and knowledge.