Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Italian Wines Sparkle At Festive Meal

Bubbly and the queen of Italian wine are perfect matches for a four-course meal.

Italian meals mean family and festive times around the dinner table. When our daughter Rachel arrived in town, it was the ideal time to host a special meal with four Italian wines imported by Mack & Schuhle and distributed nationally. We dubbed the affair our “pasto festivo” (festive meal).

There’s no better way to greet dinner guests than with a glass of sparkling wine. Our arrival wine was the Ca di Prata Prosecco DOC Brut. Prosecco is made primarily from the Glera grape and is made using the Charmat or tank method. Prosecco gets its bubbles from a second fermentation, but unlike Champagne, the second fermentation takes place in a tank and not the bottle. The process is less labor-intensive so the final product is less costly (yay!).

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The Ca di Prata has fine streams of bubbles with citrus and apple notes. The finish is crisp and dry. It was a perfect foil for our antipasti which featured garlic crostini and olive tapenade, plenty of tomatoes and salad, and even some vegan Italian “salami.“

It was time to transition to white wine as we prepared for our second course. We opened the Barone Montalto 2020 Pinot Grigio to pair with baked polenta stacks with grilled vegetables. The subtle flavors of the polenta and roasted notes of the veggies were a tasty match with the Pinot Grigio which leads with citrus and mineral components. The stainless steel aging keeps the flavors fresh. It finishes with a light pear note.

Risotto has been the downfall of many contestants on cooking competition shows. When done wrong, it’s a puzzling mess. When done right, it is a melt-in-your-mouth delicacy. Rachel is a vegan chef, and after studying the wines, decided on crafting a scrumptious mushroom risotto.

Our red wine was the Riva Leone 2017 Barbaresco DOCG. Barbaresco is considered the queen of Italian wine (while Barolo wears the king’s crown). Both are made with the Nebbiolo grape. This wine was softer than I was expecting with floral and earthy components to the taste. It is aged for 12 months in French and American oak which contribute to a long, complex finish. This is a medium-bodied wine that matched well with the savory notes of the risotto.

We closed our festivities with the pop of a cork as we opened the Acquesi Asti Spumante. It has 9.5% residual sugar so finding the right food pairing is important. Our selection was vegan tiramisu and it was a classic pairing. The sweetness of the dessert ratcheted down the sweetness of the Asti, enabling us to enjoy its delicate spice, persistent bubbles, and honeycomb flavors. At only 7% ABV, this is a splendid end to a great dinner.

The pricing of the wines is as tasty as our meal. All are under $20 except for the Barbaresco, which is $25.

Full disclosure: These wines were received as a marketing sample.

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