To say that Italians are serious about their food would be something of an understatement. In Italy, food is an integral part of daily life. Italians are proud of their cuisine, and rightly so; It is some of the best in the world, and many Italian dishes have travelled to become household names across the western world.
Wine and food in Italy
Closely (if not inextricably) linked, is Italian wine. Italy is a gastronomic paradise, boasting some of the world’s finest food and wine. They’ve got some of the world’s finest wines, from Barbaresco and Barolo to Super Tuscans. They’ve got over 300 Michelin Star restaurants. They’ve even got a University of Gastronomic Sciences in Piedmont, and Bologna Business School offers an MBA in Food and Wine.
Italy is in many ways a very traditional place. Tradition and heritage play a huge role in what its people eat and drink. Regional food and regional wine tend to go together. Individual regions and villages will each have their own take on a particular recipe – and the wine to go with it. Italians are proud and almost protective of their local food and wine pairings, so what we are about to suggest is a little controversial (but stick with us!)…
Pairing Italian food with Spanish wine
Italian readers: Please, hear us out! We love your food and your wine. Seriously. We also love Spanish wine, and we’ve worked on some seriously harmonious pairings between Italian food and Spanish wines. It may go against everything you’ve ever been taught, but why not try some of these pairings for yourself!
Pizza and Spanish wine
Pizza is one of those foods that has travelled the world. It is massively popular across America, Europe and beyond. Credit where it’s due, though: Real pizza was born in Italy. That doesn’t mean we’ve always got to pair it with a Chianti or a Barbera, though. No, we’ve got just the thing to go with it:
- Pairing: Margherita pizza is great with Priorat. Take a plain cheese pizza without any crazy toppings, and the tomato sauce does the talking. Pair that with a bold red blend from Priorat, and the acidity in the tomato will emphasise the wine’s fruitiness and body while playing down its acidity. Our pick is Reflexe 2014, a bold blend of Grenache, Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.
Spaghetti Bolognese and Spanish wine
For many, spaghetti Bolognese is the archetypal Italian tomato-based dish. There are many recipes for this dish, though fundamentally you’re talking about spaghetti pasta served on a delicious sauce of minced meat and tomato. You might have some other vegetables in there, or some cheese. Or a couple of different cheeses. Or some bacon. There are options. Lots of options. This is the beauty of Italian food.
- Pairing: Spaghetti Bolognese is great with Toro. You could certainly use any Tempranillo-based red here, but for us the grape’s robust and rugged expression in Toro pairs best with Bolognese. In this region, they call the grape Tinta de Toro. These wines, like Almirez 2014, are full-bodied, flavoursome and high in alcohol. They can stand up to the intensity of flavour in the Bolognese sauce, hearty and rich enough to complement the food.
Pasta Carbonara and Spanish wine
Carbonara is a beautifully creamy dish, with as many recipe variations as there are towns in Italy. Some use milk, others would be repulsed by it. The specific cut of meat used is also a hot topic, as is the particular type of pasta. Whatever way you make it, Carbonara is a rich dish comprised of pasta, a white cheesy sauce and small chopped pieces of meat.
- Pairing: Pasta Carbonara is great with Rueda. The different styles of Rueda wine almost bring to mind the numerous styles of Carbonara. A Verdejo-based Rueda will work perfectly well, though our pick is a crisp and clean Rueda Sauvignon. This wine is going to be light and refreshing, with a high level of acidity to cut through the creaminess of the sauce and cleanse your palate. A bottle of Finca La Colina Sauvignon Blanc will do the trick!
Do you have any non-traditional food and wine pairings? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below!