One of the highlights of my yr is the annual Italian feast at Wild Artichokes in Kingsbridge, Devon, which is cooked by the fantastic chef and meals author Jane Baxter, who makes an occasional look on these pages, and on BBC1’s Saturday Kitchen, come to that.
Baxter, whose motto needs to be “by no means knowingly undercatered”, is incapable of constructing a meal with fewer than a dozen programs, and this yr was no totally different, together with six antipasti and three pastas, which makes a nonsense of attempting to match particular person dishes. The trick is to discover a wine that can rub together with fairly properly every part you throw at it, and I discovered it in an Etna bianco from Sicilian producer Tasca d’Almerita.
Like many Italian whites, it was recent, crisp, dry and relatively low in alcohol, the sort of wine that wouldn’t stand out in a tasting however that bursts into life with meals. That’s true of many Italian whites, even pinot grigio, whose comparative neutrality is a optimistic bonus as a backdrop to a meal. (It’s fascinating that the majority Italians don’t instinctively attain for an fragrant sauvignon blanc or oaky chardonnay with their meals, though they do make extra worldwide kinds for the UK market.)
Italian reds, too, are typically lighter and extra acidic than their French and Spanish counterparts. I do know the time period “acid” doesn’t sound notably interesting, but it surely’s one other phrase for the freshness in a wine that cuts by means of meals so appealingly. With the exception once more of the richer kinds you discover within the Maremma area of Tuscany, Sicily and the south, these are crimson wines that behave like a white, which works notably properly with the veg-centred meals we are typically consuming nowadays. In contrast with different European wines, they’re good worth, too, with loads accessible for lower than £10, though they could not enchantment for those who’re a fan of extra full-bodied reds corresponding to malbec, say.
The draw back with Italian wines – as I touched on final week – is that they’re not notably constant. Pinot grigio will be actually good worth or it may well, frankly, be piss-poor. Go for the top-of-the-range grocery store own-labels corresponding to Tesco Most interesting* Pinot Grigio at £7, or dearer pinot grigios once they’re on particular provide, such because the Terre di Vita Natural Pinot Grigio 2018 (12.5%), which is generally £7.99 however is at present diminished to £5.99 on Waitrose’s present 25%-off-six-bottles provide. Even for those who don’t regard your self a pinot grigio fan, that’s a very whole lot.
4 food-friendly Italian wines to see you proper by means of a meal
Verdicchio dei Castelli de Jesi Classico 2018
£7 Marks & Spencer, 13%.
One of the crucial dependable and genuine Italian whites.
Nicosia Lenza di Munti Etna Bianco 2017
£11 Cubicles, 12.5%. Very properly priced (for Etna), mineral volcanic white. Good for seafood.
Custoza Monte del Fra 2018
£9.50 Cubicles, £12.50 Berry Bros & Rudd, 12.5%.
Actually interesting, clean, dry white, related in fashion to a soave.
Cecchi Morellino di Scansano 2018
£7.49 (on provide) Waitrose, 13%.
Recent, fruity, Tuscan crimson to go along with ragù or roast lamb.
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