When it comes to the art of flavor, wine is my first love. The amazing thing about wine is that it can teach endless things and take you endless places – if you let it.
Wine has opened up new worlds, new ideas, and new hobbies for me. In addition to travel and my life in Italy, cooking is one of my greatest finds by way of wine. Living in wine country and with a wine expert (I don’t use that term loosely, but my husband is deserving), I enjoy wine and food pairing on a whole new level.
Arneis is one of the few white wines of Piedmont. It’s medium-bodied with low acidity and low aromatics. It often tastes of pear, green apple, and hints of blossom with a nutty finish.
Pairing Ideas: Try fish, white meats (turkey, chicken), cold ham, salumi, and lighter cheese sauces.
Recipe Pick: Chicken Thighs Braised in White Wine
Producer Pick: Demarie Roero Arneis
The semi-sweet, sparkling Moscato d’Asti is growing in popularity with GenY. It has medium acidity so it can stand up to some greasy, fatty foods. On the palate it shows pear, apple, peach, and apricot.
Pairing Ideas: Fruit-based desserts are a good match, like apple pie, berries with cream, and peach cobbler. Add it to brunch or happy hour / aperitivo spreads – the balance of sweet and salty compliment perfectly. That contrast makes it our favorite with a Full English.
Recipe Pick: Full English Breakfast
Producer Pick: Isobella della Croce Moscato d’Asti, ‘Valdiserre’
Dolcetto is a favorite table red of the region. It pairs nicely with rustic foods and antipasti. Some of the top expressions come from the communes of Dogliani and Diano d’Alba. It’s easy drinking with low acidity and sweet, full tannins. It shows tart slightly bruised cherry flavors. Recently producers have been making it more fruit-forward so it shows darker, heavier fruits.
What to pair: Pizza, tomato-based ragu, moderately spiced chili, slightly spiced barbecued pork rib, and cured meats.
Recipe Pick: Pork Ragu
Producer Pick: Marziano Abbona Dolcetto, ‘Papá Celso’
Barbera is the most widely planted, adaptable, and vigorous grape in the region. It has high acidity that cuts through meat and vegetable fat. It’s low in tannin and shows brambly fruit, red cherries, and spice.
What to pair: Meat- and tomato-based pasta dishes, game, hard cheeses, and grilled meats (hamburgers and sausages) work well. For a fuller Barbera seasoned beef or lamb (roast, curry, stew) pair well.
Recipe Pick: Beef Stew Tip: Cook with the same Barbera to enhance both the wine and food.
Producer Pick: Poderi Colla Barbera, ‘Costa Bruna’
Nebbiolo is considered one of Italy’s noble varietals. Its powerful tannins make it an age-worthy wine that demands a rich food and wine pairing combo. To enjoy young, drink Langhe Nebbiolo or Nebbiolo d’Alba. Nebbiolo offers a beautiful balance of acidity and tannin while also being intensely aromatic. On the palate are dried petals, more red fruit than black, and earthy tar notes.
What to pair: For something different, try moderately spiced Asian cuisine; the red fruit, high tannin, acidity levels, and perfume work beautifully with tannic Asian dishes.
Recipe Pick: Asian Noodle Bowl with Steak and Snow Peas
Producer Pick: Cá del Baio Nebbiolo, ‘Bric del Baio’
Barbaresco is considered the more elegant aged Nebbiolo, though to be fair it does vary by commune and producer. Regulations require two years of aging (nine months in oak) before release. The required aging gives it a rich, elegant structure showing more savory, earthy notes. It’s recommend that you hold these wines at least 10 years to let the tannins calm.
What to pair: Darker, gamier meats with rich sauces like venison, prime rib, wild boar, etc.
Recipe Pick: FoodWineClick’s Spring Pea Basil Risotto
Producer Pick: Produttori del Barbaresco
Barolo aging requirements are a year more than Barbaresco; three years with 18 months in oak. They also start to show their beauty after 10 years, but can be laid down much longer. Barolo shows a more tannic, tar essence with more intense structure and complexity from heavier tannins.
What to pair: Pair with rich, heavy meats and sauces like Beef Wellington.
Recipe Pick: Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon Tip: Cook with a bigger Langhe Nebbiolo.
Producer Pick: Guido Porro Barolo, ‘Lazzairasco’