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How To Combine Italian Food and Wine At Home

Thursday, August 30th, 2018

There are few pairings in life that have stood the test of time as well as food and wine. When the perfect pairing is achieved, a golden, winning combination is unlocked, taking the senses on an unrivalled journey that can transport you to shores far and wide. The perfect pairing however, can be difficult to achieve, even when just considering our own native British cuisine, but when attempting to partner food from foreign lands, this challenge only becomes harder.

Italian cuisine is a firm favourite for Brits looking for something different, in fact, Italian restaurants were the public’s number one destination when dining out last year. When cooking at home, Italian is another steadfast option, and whether your home-alone, planning for a hot-date or catering for a dinner party for friends, nailing your drink choices to complement your food will only maximise the enjoyment your enjoyment of your meal.

Developing tasty food and wine pairing can be started by breaking down the complexities and simply experimenting with the key main flavour profiles. Here’s a closer look at the key pairings for food and wine pairing and why each one works. You’ll soon be one step closer to matching your food and wine like you’re a professional chef.

italian food and wine

6 Key Tips For Pairing Wine & Food
If you’re just getting started, you’ll find these tried and tested general methodologies produce some great pairings. That said, as you get more familiar with different wines, you’ll become confident and can experiment with new combinations.

  • Your wine should be more acidic in taste than the food.
  • If the main dish is sweet in taste, the wine should be sweeter than the food.
  • Avoid overpowering your palate and ensure wine has the same flavour intensity as the food.
  • Red wines generally pair best with boldly flavoured meat dishes
  • White wines usually pair best with light-intensity meats such as fish
  • It is better to match the wine with the sauce than with the meat, as that is the main source of the flavour


Pairing wine with types of Italian dish

Pairing wine with pasta

Matching wine with pasta is hugely dependent on the sauce, as that is the core part of the flavour. We’ve compiled the wine matches for the 3 most popular sauces.

White sauce

Any wine chosen for a dish such as a Carbonara, will need to match and cut through the taste and texture of the creamy sauce. A good quality Pinot Grigio is a great place to start. You want a light and crisp taste with citrus fruits. Look for Pinot Grigio from regions in the northeast of Italy.

Meat sauce

Bolognese or beef ragu sauces are rich and comforting, with a huge depth of flavour when cooked. Because of the inclusion of meat and depth of flavour a ragu sauce can achieve, you can look to feature wines with more power. Hearty red wines from in Tuscany feature complex flavours of earthy spices, leather and mellow oak, all of which can bring any meat based ragu sauce to life. 

Red sauce

Arrabiata is a classic tomato based sauce, a real recognised classic of Italian cuisine. Lighter versions of this sauce can match very well with a wide range of Italian whites such as Verdicchio, Pinot Grigio and Gavi. Once you begin to add basil, garlic and other vegetables, then the lighter, red wines, also start to be great potential matches, including Chianti from Tuscany and Dolcetto from Piedmont.

Pairing wine with risotto

Wine matching for risotto is similar in process to matching wine with pasta. No one wine fits all; it depends on the key recipe ingredients and accompaniment to this classic dish. Light risotto, made with vegetables or seafood, requires the crisper white wines from Northern Italy. Mushroom or red meat risottos can be rich and savoury, allowing a good match with medium bodied red wines, such as Pinot Nero or Dolcetto.

Pairing wine with pizza

Italian red wine is the perfect match for pizza. It’s a great example of the wine and food from similar regions matching each other perfectly, as they are set up to compliment tomato sauce and cut through the melted mozzarella. Try a wine made from the Chianti region or Light Valpolicella from the Veneto region. Generally,  light, dry Italian whites will work should you decide to top your pizza with ingredients such as ricotta or fish.

At Bella Cosa, we have a comprehensive wine list that offers the perfect complement to both our exquisite lunch and dinner choices. Let us suggest some pairings for you to sample and ensure that your meal is perfectly complimented. Book your table and join us by the river.

Get To Know The Basics Of Italian Food

Monday, August 20th, 2018

Italian food is by far one of the most popular types of cuisine in the world, loved by people all over the world and served in restaurants in pretty much every town and city in the UK.

But real authentic Italian food is a little bit different to what you’ll find at your typical chain restaurants, or in a jar of sauce from the supermarket. While those who are not Italian themselves often think of pizza and spaghetti when identifying Italian food, and some people are of the opinion that most Italian food is all pretty similar, you may be surprised at just how much variation there is region by region if you travel through Italy.

We thought we’d put together a little bit of a piece on the basics of Italian food so that you can learn a little bit more for yourself.

making italian food

The Freshest Ingredients

In Italy, people will commonly buy produce from local markets rather than supermarkets, and the fruit and vegetables will be full of far more flavour because they haven’t been picked before they are fully ripe. Vegetables bought fresh will be seasonally appropriate rather than imported, so Italians tend to cook different foods at different times of the year.

In the summertime, you will find a lot of radishes, aubergine, beetroot, courgettes, beans, peas, and tomatoes in dishes, whereas in the winter you are likely to be served more artichokes, broccoli, brussels sprouts, fennel, cabbage, spinach and turnips.

Regional Influences

Due to the fresh produce used in Italian cooking, you will also find that different parts of the country will have access to different produce. Historically, the country was split into different kingdoms and states that did not have too much to do with one another, meaning there are plenty of regional specialities.

The Margherita pizza was conceived in Naples, with legend having it that it was created especially for Queen Margherita of Savoy in 1889, with the traditional toppings of tomatoes, mozzarella, extra virgin olive oil and basil leaves being intended to resemble the colours of the Italian flag.

Lasagne hails from Bologna, where food tends to be very rich. It is filled with ground meat (either pork or beef) bolognese, handmade noodles, bechamel sauce and topped with white wine, carrot, tomato, butter, and plenty of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

In Tuscany, they are lucky enough to have the ideal growing conditions for white truffles, which are very rare, as well as the rare black variety. As a result, you’ll find them used in Tuscan fare.

Antipasto is a classic appetiser in Tuscany, a simple mixed plate of bread, pate, cheese and cured meat. In Tuscany, they tend to favour food that is rich and simple.

Siciliy is a little bit different to the mainland, as they have been influenced by Arabs and Normans and other cultures throughout history, so you will find a few unique dishes on this island. Cannoli and arancini are a few such examples!

Italian Food Outside Of Italy

Funnily enough, the foods that are often marketed as ‘Italian’ or ‘Italian-style’ in supermarkets and on menus in restaurants will be nothing like real Italian food, and the word ‘authentic’ does not guarantee that it truly is.

Unless you are planning a trip to Italy yourself soon, you may be wondering how you can find a true taste of Italy for yourself. You are best off heading to a restaurant where the chef is actually from Italy themselves, as you will get the most authentic experience from somebody who really knows what they are doing when it comes to Italian flavours.

Our chef here at Bella Cosa is originally from Brindisi in southern Italy and has a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to cooking delicious Italian dishes that are true to their roots. Why not join us for a meal and see for yourself?