Food and wine pairing may seem like a complicated challenge, but in the case of Italy, if you follow one simple rule, your food and wine pairings will be a great success! All 20 of Italy’s administrative regions produce wine to some extent, with vastly different wine regions throughout. Within each of those areas, there are also specific regional dishes. Chances are, if you pair a wine and food that come from the same Italian region, you will have a winning pairing! As they say, “if it grows together, it goes together.” But here are some of our favourite pairings, just in case you need a little help.
Neapolitan Pizza with Aglianico
The city of Naples in the Campania region is famous for Neopolitan Pizza, that tasty, thin crust pizza that is baked in a super hot oven for a short period of time. While locally the pizza is paired with beer, you could pair a pizza with tomato-based sauce and meat with a wine made from Aglianico grapes. The salt and acidity of the tomato sauce will help soften and balance this wine even more. At City Cellars, we particularly love the Sannio Aglianico from the Cantina di Solopaca vineyard, an hour north of Naples.
Steak Florentine with Chianti Classico
Chianti Classico is a full-bodied red made primarily with Sangiovese grapes from Tuscany, while Steak Florentine is a classic Tuscan dish adored for its simplicity and robust flavour. Steak florentine is easily prepared with a cut of T-bone/porterhouse steak drizzled with olive oil, rubbed with garlic and charred to perfection. The earthiness and bright red fruits of Chianti complement the charred meat well, and it stands up to the strong flavours of the steak.
Porchetta with Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
You’ll see Porchetta driving almost anywhere in Central Italy. It’s a pork loin stuffed with liver, fennel and other herbs prior to being spit-roasted. You can enjoy it alone or on a sandwich, and while it’s not too hard to make at home, you’ll likely be able to find it at an Italian grocery store. Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is a medium bodied wine with dark fruit flavours of plum and herbs, making it a perfect pairing to salty, fatty porchetta.
Piedmont - Barolo with Agnolotti Dal Plin
Northern Italy’s Piedmont region produces some of the country’s most renowned red wines - namely those made from the Nebbiolo grape, which produces lightly coloured red wines that are bold, tannic and do well with age. Barolo, often referred as the “king of wines”, pairs well with hearty fare and red meat. If you really want to amp up the food pairing, try your hand at a classic Northern Italian dish, Agnolotti dal Plin, which is a pasta dish made with pork, rabbit and chicken, plus parmigiano reggiano cheese.
Of course, Italy is home to so many more wines and traditional dishes than just these four suggestions - best start exploring the regions for yourself! Buon Appetito!