Tuscan food & Wine Pairing
Tuscany is undoubtedly amongst the most stunning regions of Italy, home for some of the greatest renaissance architecture and world’s most notable wines. My recent trip to Chianti vineyards was amongst the most scenic drive from Florence to Siena. I experienced the best nature wonders and few man made marvels like the Monteriggioni castle which was our pits stop while returning back from Siena.
Chianti Vineyards pic courtesy : Vinepair
My enthusiasm for wines took me to various wine regions while Chianti Classico is amidst the best I have experienced. During my trip I decided to pair some Tuscan and other Italian wines with the local Tuscan food to get high on taste and local culture. I thought of sharing this pleasure with you all with little tweaks with my personal favorites but definitely the right ones.
Me & the Black Rooster, The Chianti Classico seal, recently changed in 2013
While wine pairing remains an art there’s no trick in learning the basics like I started. The reason why wine can be paired best with food is because they have common components and flavors such as acid, fat, bitterness, sugar and textures. A very basic idea when you are not an expert at food and wine pairing is the most basic logic that food and wine from same regions are the best pairings. They would go together as they are harvested from same soil, grown up in same climatic conditions hence this common factor can make these pairings successful.
So following the basics, I tried to pair few famous Tuscan dishes with the wines from Tuscan region and few from other parts of Italy.
Let’s begin with our Tuscan food & wine pairing – Tuscan appetizers
Carciofi in stile toscano e strudel di spinach (Tuscan artichokes & spinach strudel)
Artichokes are known famously as wine killers. Artichoke contain natural tannin, which is actually not bad for wine pairing. They also contain a rare chemical called cynarin, a type of organic acid. On some palates, anything eaten after a food that contains cynarin will taste sweet; on others the taste will be bitter so both ways, it’s a challenge.
Wine could only be paired with artichokes if you choose very dry wines with high acidity and very little natural bitterness hence I recommend pairing this dish with high acid Italian white such as Arneis or Cortese or high acid Italian red wine such as Dolcetto. You would definitely survive your artichoke dish with these wine pairing.
Strudel by Jason Hedlund
Gamberi al forno toscan (Creamy garlic butter Tuscan shrimps)
This dish calls for a fresh and savory wine, something to cut through the richness of the butter and olive oil. Also a wine that can also handle the strength of the garlic and match the sweetness of the shrimp. I like to go to Southern Italy with a Fiano di Avellino from Mastroberardino or Feudi di San Gregorio. These wines with texture, spicy and fennel notes would match the dish perfectly.
Pic courtesy : Cafedelites
Zucca Arrostita e zuppa di funghi selvatici (Roasted pumpkin & wild mushroom soup)
Tuscan people like their roasted pumpkin. With this dish we recommend you choose a medium bodied white wine with enough acidity to compensate the in burnt sweetness of the pumpkin. We recommend to try ideas such Tuscan Vernaccia made from Vernaccia white grape.
Roasted pumpkin soup with wild mushrooms by Celebrity Chef Gordon Ramsay
Tuscan food & wine pairing – Tuscan Main Course
Risotto verde toscano (Arborio rice, smoked tomatoes, grilled vegetables)
Wine pairing with Risotto depends on the ingredients used in cooking the risotto. While there are different wines for risotto made using sea food and chicken, risotto made with vegetables and herbs such as this one would pair best with an aromatic wines. We recommend wines such as white Greco , an Italian white grape wine which has characteristics of spice, herb and citrus and high in acidity.
Risotto by Chef Gaurav Bathla
Ossobuco alla fiorentina (Veal shank ossobuco)
Ossobuco is Italian for “bone with a hole” or “marrowbone”, both a reference to the marrow hole at the center of the cross-cut veal shank. The leanness and delicate flavor of veal is complemented by lighter red wines.I recommend pairing this dish with La Maialina Chianti Classico, Tuscany 2008 which goes best with Ossobuco.
The 2008 Chianti Classico offers up plums, violets, minerals, leather and tobacco on a rich, articulated frame that literally explodes on the palate with a burst of dark red fruit.
Veal shank ossobuco by Chef Gaurav Bathla
Cotoletta (Breaded slice of pork chop with rosemary, lime and sea salt served with creamy mash)
Pork chops are a particularly versatile dish, one that will go with a variety of wines, both white and red, depending on the sauce or preparation used. If the preparation involves a butter or cream sauce, I would go for a richer Chardonnay. We recommend pairing it with one of the finest wine from Italy’s cool alpine region Ribolla Gialla. Perusini 2006 Ronchi di Gramogliano ,the creaminess of this wine would go well with the creamy mash of the dish.
Tuscan food & wine pairing – Tuscan pizzas
Pesto Toscano (Basil, sundried tomatoes, mozzarella)
With aromatic notes of fresh basil and the combination of sun-dried tomatoes, mozzarella, garlic and oregano with light delicate crusts, the kinds of wines that go best with this style of pizza are light, fruity and well made Italian wines. We recommend wines particularly from producers like Paolo Bea. I paired it with Bea’s Arboreus because of its enchanting aroma.
Pizza by Chef Gaurav Bathla
Diavola (Pepperoni,onions, sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella)
Pepperoni is a very strong flavor and because of the fat content of pepperoni, it imbues its flavor throughout the cheese on every slice. You’ll need a strong wine with intense flavors to counterbalance ‘the pepperoni effect’. Sangiovese is a classic choice as the most popular red grape of Italy.
Ragu alla Bolognese (Bologna style mixed meat Ragu, fresh Roma tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella)
If you follow the theory that what grows together goes together, then you should pair Bolognese with its home region’s best-known wine, Lambrusco. These sparkling wines (usually red) range from pink and off-dry to dark, tannic and brooding. Look for one somewhere in the middle, with bright berry fruit, such as bottles from Zanasi or Medici Ermete.
Tuscan food & wine pairing – Tuscan Desserts
You pick up any Tuscan dessert they are best paired with Vin Santo. Vin Santo is a viscous, typically sweet dessert wine made in Italy, predominantly in Tuscany. The wine is loved for its intense flavors of hazelnut and caramel.