The chat today about holiday wines for 2021 with my go to sommelier Cynthia Chaplin delves into lots of wonderful wines, many new to me.
In this blog post I've taken note of some of them but honestly they just scrape the surface. Well worth it to tune into this podcast episodes because Cynthia shares details and insight into each and every wine she suggests and you almost feel like you can taste the wine as she talks about it!.
Hard to pair vegetables like artichokes and asparagus
Sommelier Cynthia Chaplins’s go-to artichoke pairing is wine made with the bellone grape, an ancient grape from Lazio that the Caesars were drinking way back when. This grape grows along the Lazio Coast south of Rome in very dry and mineral terrain because the ground is volcanic. Cynthia suggest a few producers: Marco Carpinetti, Ciccinato and Casale del Giglio that make antium wine.
Cynthia's favorite of the three is Carpinetti and their dry bellone goes best with artichokes like these deep fried artichokes .
The fruitiness of bellone wines also makes them an excellent pairing with turkey.
What Italian holiday wines to serve with fish-based meals
A fish-based meal goes beautifully with a Fiano from Campania, or even Verdicchio.
Two of Cynthia's favorites are the producer Feudi di San Gregorio, and especially their Pietra Calda wine.
As to Verdicchio both VignAmato or Bucci are two producers to check out.
Serving rosé wine from start to finish over the holidays
Cynthia adores rosé wines and I have to say I am on the exact same page. She suggests that you start with a sparkling rosé wine and serve a sweet one at the end, with a more structured rosé wine in the middle.
You'll note a lovely play of acidity and fruitiness with these rosé wines.
The Puglia region has a few you’II want to check into. The producer San Marzano a cooperative, makes Tramari (Between Two Seas).
Also delicious is the Leonardo de Castris Five Roses Wine.
Heading north Lunae in Liguria make a rosé with vermentino nero, Mea Rosa. It's a versatile wine and goes well with both meat and fish.
What 2021 Italian holiday wine to pair with rich and fatty meat dishes
With lamb you need to balance acidity, tannin and fat together. Choose a wine that can be the star with lamb. A gattinara is a great choice and Cynthia suggests a woman producer, Cinzia Travaglini.
An aged Barbara of no more than two years in wood yields a silky tannin structure that goes great with lamb.
With beef a good choice is a Sardinian cannanau made with the grenache grape. Look out for the Argiolias producer.
Nero davola balances out the fattiness with a velvety mouth feel; try Planet Santa Cecilia.
Beware of Amarone wines served during the meal because of their high alcohol content. They are better served with cheese after dinner at the end of the meal because Amarone has a very high alcohol contact sometimes around 16.5%. Or try using it to make risotto!
Sagrantino, on the other hand has a lot of complexity but isn't as fruit forward as Amarone. A perfect choice is Montefalco rosso.
What Italian holiday wines to serve with vegan and vegetarian dishes
Ruché is one of my favorites and has a beautiful bright acidity and isn’t tannic. It's very floral and very ethereal. Ruché doesn’t stand up well to grilled meats but it’s great with vegetarian dishes and filled pasta. Have a listen to the podcast episode I did with Cynthia Chaplin on Piedmont lesser known reds like Ruché.
Malvasia istriana is another wine that pairs beautifully with vegan and vegetarian dishes. Listen to this podcast episode on how to eat vegan in Italy.
What about dessert wines?
The rule of thumb is with a sweet dessert serve a sweet wine.
Panettone is perfect served with a Moscato di asti, especially the Tenuta Il Facchetto.
Also great with panettone is a Passito di pantelleria.
Pandoro is another classic Italian holiday dessert that originally comes from Cynthia's new region and town, Verona. Recently she had a wonderful pandoro injected with chocolate cream and it was served with bracchetto - a perfect pairing. Another good pairing is with Barolo chinotto.
A bar of dark chocolate is loaded with tannins so it goes best with a passito.
On the other hand dark chocolate desserts with some fat like chocolate mousse are wonderful with a good dry red.
Pecan pie and pumpkin pie have savory tones and are harder to pair. Anselmi garganica passito really brightens up a pumpkin pie.
New Year's Eve Italian Holiday Wines
Cynthia loves bubbly and that's the direction she goes on New Year's Eve. She starts with a Prosecco conegliano superiore and then moves onto cartise or rive cru wines, Piedmont extra dry but not brut. Then Cynthia likes to head into more structured choices like Oltrepò Pavese in Lombardia.
Alternatively Cynthia chooses a rosé wine made with Pinot noir.
And then a Trento doc made in champagne style, and finally moving to a Franciacorta
Here are a few to check out: Uberti , Bonami, Barone Pizzini - All extremely dry wines.
Risotto and lentils are two stars of the New Year's Eve meal table. Make your Risotto with a franciacorta or Trento doc.
A few more of Cynthia's favorite wines worth mentioning
Whites like Castello della Sala in Umbria.
Aged lugana made from torbiano grape.
Vino nobile di Montepulciano.
Etna rosso wines are up and coming. They age well and the price is great right now so grab a few cases for your personal wine cellar!
Where to buy your 2021 Italian holiday wines
The best option is to go to your favorite wine store. If you don't have one there are a couple of online options worth checking out: Vivino and Eataly.
Last but not least join the this wonderful Italian wine club, the Rimessa Roscioli Wine Club or gift it to someone!
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