Top Five Italian White Wines to Try with Food
The Five Best White Seaside Wines
Few other countries boast such a wealth of local, indigenous grape varieties as Italy. Yes, once you move beyond Pinot Grigio, whole worlds open up, especially at the table. Italian white wines are rarely loud or assertive – they are possessed of a savoury subtlety that just make them winners when it comes to nuanced food pairings. They are also tremendous value. Here are five you have to try.
Arneis is a white grape variety from Piedmont in northern Italy. It has a bright, vivid freshness, is softly scented and reminiscent of mountain meadows with its fragrant subtlety. The best wines come with a hint of bitter almond. Think of creamy risotti made with spring and summer vegetables and you have a match made in heaven.
We stay right in Piedmont in the north of Cortese. This is the grape variety behind the poular Gavi di Gavi wines. They are light in body, have bright freshness and an essential citrusy salinity that makes them great partners for simple grilled white fish. The wine will bring out the sublety of the fish and vice versa. These are quiet pleasures but worh listening out for.
At home in the Veneto, also in northern Italy, Garganega is the grape variety that makes Soave wines. It is quite neutral on the nose and only shows its true nature on the palate: there is a wonderfully savoury aftertaste, almost with a soy-sauce like depth and saltiness.
This kind of umami hit will make somersaults on your palate when it meets that other Italian umami-bomb: Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Make sure you choose a Soave Classico wine, because at least 70% of it has to be Garganega.
Verdicchio is widespread across Italy, but in the Marche region in central Italy, it makes Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi. With its slightly nutty and lemony character, often with a slight hint of bay leaf, it is just made for grilled vegetables or vegetable-themed pasta dishes. The fuller-bodied wines can also take on pork dishes – especially when these come with fennel seed, as they often do in Italy.
Another quiet treasure from the Marche region is Pecorino – yes, it shares its name with the sheep cheese. Like all the other wines listed, it is subtle on the nose but carries beautiful crispness and firmness on the palate. There is a bracing zestiness, too. So this is what to have with summer salads and dishes where vegetables take the starring role.
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