When it comes to choosing a bottle of vino to accompany your Christmas dinner, what’s good for the goose isn’t always good for the…turkey. That’s why we challenged our resident wine expert, Alessandra Mascoli to put together some festive wine suggestions with an Italiano twist. Have a ‘gander’, yule love it…
I’ve been working in food and wine for well over 8 years now – which means that I often get asked for advice about special occasions. Birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, you name it: If it requires a good bottle then, at some point, I have been asked to give an opinion.
Take Christmas, for example. When it comes to choosing a wine, I usually go for Italian. Whilst this is partly because I am Italian (and therefore a little bit biased) it’s also because, lately, Italian winemakers just seem to “do it better.” But what if you know absolutely nothing about vino? Maybe you’re struggling to find a bottle that perfectly complements the turkey and sprouts. Well don’t worry – I’m going to share with you some dinner choices, and help make your Christmas supper sing…
Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG. Don’t let the overly elaborate name put you off of my first selection. Sure, it may SOUND complicated, but all it REALLY means is that this bottle of sparkling white wine hails from the rolling hills of the Treviso area in North-Eastern Italy. Prosecco is the result of the ‘Charmat’ method – a procedure that involves refermenting the wine in air-tight pressure tanks in order to give it all of those lovely bubbles. This process also helps enhance the fragrances of the grapes (in this case, Glera), which are particularly rich.
That’s what I like about Prosecco; its peach and pear flavours sit beautifully alongside its fresh and caressing fizz. It can also provide the perfect Christmas aperitif if you choose it Brut or Extra Dry.
Speaking of Christmas, Sparklers are rather festive, aren’t they? I like them a lot, particularly Franciacorta DOCG – which shares its name with a popular wine region located around 60 kilometers from Milan. Winemakers in Franciacorta have challenged the more renowned ‘French Champagne’ by using the same vines – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc – and the same method (classic). In this case, the base wine has its second fermentation directly in its bottle. This process helps yield the characteristic yeasty aroma of the Classic-method, whilst simultaneously providing the wine with its citrus and hazelnut flavors. Franciacorta white and Franciacorta rosé both have a full, rounded body and a firm structure, alongside fresh acidity. That’s why they are outstanding when served with starter, fish or even main courses.
However, if you fancy a red wine with your turkey roast – and I always do – you should go for something like a Chianti Classico DOCG. This wine was invented back in late 19th century by Baron Bettino Ricasoli and soon became the most famous Italian red wine in the world. It also happens to lead the way in terms of Tuscany wine production. Yielded from Sangiovese, Canaiolo and Colorino grapes, Chianti wines usually have a full-bodied structure, good acidity and spicy/fruity aromas. In addition, this wine is the perfect accompaniment to any mature cheese platter you might want to serve after dinner – and who doesn’t like cheese and wine?
Finally, what about Christmas treats? No matter how much of a wine novice you are, you probably know that sweet dishes generally require sweet wines. With that in mind, my choice for Christmas pudding or desserts would be Passito di Pantelleria DOC from Pantelleria. This little island, situated just below Sicily, is almost completely covered by vineyards. The name “Passito” was coined because of the wine making technique involving dried Zibibbo grapes. Rich in sugar, a good Passito is well-balanced between sweetness and acidity and has fragrances of candied peel, fruit in syrup and honey. Surprisingly, it pairs cakes and chocolate fudges just as well as various blue cheeses – like Stilton, Gorgonzola and Roquefort.
Well there you have it – a festive feast of Italian wine to perfectly pair your traditional Christmas roast.
What’s left to say but cheers? Or, in my case, salute!