In Italy, very rarely do you have a meal without wine. The Italians are masters at pairing the proper wine with the correct food. When selecting the proper wine, it is very important to take very close attention to what your main course is going to be. I know some people who love Cabernet Sauvignon, a great wine, however it doesn’t go with every meal. You must be very careful to not overpower your main dish. In addition, serving a light wine with a bold dish would also get you on Santa’s naughty list. So, here are some tips for selecting the perfect Italian wine pairing for your Christmas Dinner.
The first thing I would like to point out when selecting your wine is to figure out what your main course is going to be. It is my opinion, that you choose the wine to compliment the meal, not vice versa. Second, after you have selected your main course, it will be time to head to the wine store. When selecting an Italian wine, it is very important to find one with the D.O.C.G. on it. This stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata Garantita. Simply stated, this is an Italian quality assurance to be sure the wine is produced within the specified region using defined methods and that it satisfy a defined quality standard (thanks Wikipedia). You could try a wine without this label, but only if you hate your money. Next, I will give you my Italian wine recommendations for some of the more popular Christmas dinners. If you will be feasting on something else, feel free to drop me an email at Triplogitalian@yahoo.com, and I will reply to you with a recommendation.
- Let’s face it, you have to give the guests something to munch on while you are finishing up dinner. In Italy, it is very common to serve Prosecco with appetizers. Now to take it to another level, serve a Rose Prosecco (pink) to your guests to get in the holiday spirit. Prosecco is an Italian sparkling wine. This dry, sparkling wine is produced mainly in the northern Italy in the Veneto and Friuli–Venezia Giulia regions. This wine is one of my favorites and goes very well with just about any appetizer. Don’t be worried about serving a Rose Prosecco, it tastes nothing like White Zinfindel.
- Preparing a beautiful ham dinner for Christmas? Let me guess, you’re perplexed when it came to wine pairing. Not a typical dish that you think about pairing wines with, right? My recommendation with ham would be a white wine. I think Vermentino would pair very nicely with the ham. In particular, I would select one from Sardinia (or Sardegna it may be on the label). Vermentino is a soft, but yet crisp, white wine. For a full review of Vermentino, please see our Vermentino wine review.
- What, you didn’t get enough turkey for Thanksgiving? You can go either white or red with turkey. White is just too boring! If you want to go red, you want to make sure you have a lighter bodied wine. I think a Barbera from the Piedmont (Piemonte) region would be a great choice. Look for wines called Barbera D’Asti or Barbera D’Alba, as these are some of the finer regions for these wines. Again, make sure the wine comes labeled as a D.O.C.G. The Barbera grape is the third most planted grape in all of Italy. This wine is very fruit-forward and lighter in body, and will go very well with Turkey. You don’t want a complex wine overpowering the mild turkey. Okay, if you want to serve a white wine, the Vermentino from above would also be good with the Turkey as well, but please don’t do it!!!
Prime Rib or Other Beef
- You are going to want a bold wine to pair with this main dish. You can’t go wrong with the Brunello Di Montalcino. This wine is made exclusively from the Sangiovese grape (100%). Brunello di Montalcino is only grown in the town and surrounding areas of Montalcino, Italy. A D.O.C.G. wine in this category must be aged in oak for 2 years and bottle aged for at least 4 months. There are two classes of Brunello, “normale” and “risreva”. A “normale” is released on market no sooner than 50 months after harvest, while a “riserva” is released one year later. This is a very full-bodied wine that will stand up to any complex meats, such as the Prime Rib or Pot Roast, which you plan to prepare on Christmas. Remember, it is Christmas, so why not splurge for a reserve wine!