Italian food and wine pairing is an art that has been perfected over centuries. The Italians know that the wine should complement, not overpower, the food and that the wine should be from the same region as the food.
To start, a glass of Prosecco, the sparkling wine from Veneto, is the perfect aperitif. Its effervescence cleanses the palate and whets the appetite. A popular dish to pair with Prosecco is the classic Italian appetizer, Prosciutto e Melone (prosciutto and melon). The sweetness of the melon is a perfect contrast to the prosciutto’s saltiness, and the Prosecco’s effervescence helps cut through the dish’s richness.
As the meal progresses, the wines get heavier and more robust. A light red wine, such as a Bardolino from Veneto, is perfect with pasta dishes like spaghetti alla carbonara. The acidity in the Bardolino cuts through the richness of the carbonara sauce, making the dish more enjoyable.
For meat dishes, a full-bodied red wine is needed. A Barolo from Piedmont is a classic choice to pair with Ossobuco, a traditional Milanese dish of braised veal shanks. The Barolo’s tannins help break down the fat in the meat, making it more tender and flavorful.
Lastly, for dessert, a sweet wine, such as a Moscato d’Asti from Piedmont, is the perfect way to end a meal. Its sweetness greatly contrasts the rich, savory flavors of the meal. A classic dessert to pair with Moscato d’Asti is Tiramisu, the creamy coffee-flavored dessert. The acidity in the Moscato cuts through the richness of the Tiramisu and cleanses the palate.
In conclusion, Italian food and wine pairing is an art that requires a deep understanding of the flavors, aromas and textures of the food and the wines. It’s about finding the perfect balance between the two so that each enhances the other. The meal becomes a symphony of flavors and aromas with the right pairing.