You might not know it yet, but Italian whites are making a serious comeback. No longer limited to bland Pinot Grigio and insipid Soave made from overcropped grapes, the landscape of Italian white wine is now peppered with fascinating indigenous varietals and unique takes on classic grapes, all for very reasonable prices. Since it’s seafood, salad, and al fresco dining season, what better time to take advantage?
20 years ago, most white wine imported from Italy to this country was inexpensive and not very interesting. The Italians themselves seemed to feel the job of white and sparkling wines was to be clean, crisp and refreshing, but merely a prelude to the ‘real’ (read: red) wines to follow. This has all changed, thanks to better vineyard practices and an increased interest in native grape varietals. This article does a fantastic job of analyzing the cause of white wine’s comeback in Italy.
Inspired by their pairing feature at the end using Italian whites and some rather ambitious-sounding dishes, here are a few ideas for some of our favorite Italian whites and some more realistic suggestions for what to serve with them:
With De Angelis’ Falerio from the Marche region, something with shrimp or other shellfish and a healthy dose of garlic and herbs is in order. This pasta recipe looks perfect for a weeknight meal, since shrimp and pasta are both quick and easy to cook. This mid-weight white also makes a perfect aperitif.
Rich, delicious crab is an ideal foil for this Pinot Bianco from Alto Adige’s Kellerei Kaltern, and this recipe with plenty of fresh herbs and a garlicky aioli looks especially wonderful. Scallops would be great with this wine as well.
You may never have heard of Erbaluce, but once you taste this unique white from Piemonte, you’ll wonder where it’s been all your life. Move over, Arneis, now we have a new grape no one’s quite sure how to pronounce! A bit richer than Pinot Grigio, with intriguing herbaceous notes that call to mind chammomile tea, it’s refreshing, but has the weight to stand up to flavorful food. Serve it with something like these polenta cakes with goat cheese, caramelized onions and honey for an innovative first course or light lunch.
Now you’re armed and ready for Italian white wines to make their big comeback – Salute!