Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Toasting 2022 with Italian Wine Pairings

Italian cuisine has a timeless appeal – and with so many rich sauces and ragus, tempting pasta shapes, airy pizzas, fresh fish, rich polentas, creamy risottos, and more, it’s easy to see why. Americans enjoy a lot of Italian food – in fact, one survey said that the average US consumer enjoys over 15 pounds of Italian cheese a year!

And Italian cuisine is perfect for dinner parties – for example, pasta recipes can easily be modified to serve more or less guests.  A fun entertainment idea for the new year is to host your own Italian night with a multi-course celebration featuring all Italian wines.

It’s always great to start the evening with something sparkling – a time-honored way to welcome guests as they enter your home in Europe.  The Ca Di Prata Brut Prosecco DOC ($16) is a great choice with crisp pear and apple flavors, lots of fine bubbles, and delightful acidity.  Passed trays of fresh salami and hard pecorino cheese (need inspiration on a building a cheese board? look here) would work well to start the evening off.

After everyone arrives, it’s time to sit down for the first course. A risotto with parmesan and lemon (see recipe here) is a crowd-pleasing first course that would match beautifully with the Barone Montalto Pinot Grigio 2020 ($12), a dry white wine with hints of citrus on the palate.  And your guests will be intrigued that this Pinot Grigio is not from northern Italy, but Sicily!

After the risotto has disappeared, it’s time for the main attraction – a roast loin of pork rubbed with olive oil and rosemary. The wine to pair is one of Italy’s iconic selections – a Barbaresco made from 100% Nebbiolo grapes. The Riva Leone Barbaresco 2017 is a perfect choice, as its complex flavors of dried red fruits and spice will complement the juicy pork wonderfully. At only $25, it’s a great value as well.

While some of your guests may say they don’t have room for dessert, they’ll certainly be persuaded to have a slice of this traditional semolina cake and a last glass of something lightly sweet. The Acquesi Asti Spumante ($18) is 100% Moscato from Friuli. Its lightly sweet flavor and lovely perfumed nose will create a sweet and sparkling ending to your night of Italian fun!

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