By now you should be fairly accustomed with the local food local wine pairing rule of thumb. While it’s true that local cuisine will work 99% of the time, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best possible pairing available. In the case of Italian food, a much better idea is to pair it with Californian wine.
I’ll talk about why pairing Italian food with Californian wine is better in a minute but first let’s look at the aforementioned rule. By no means am I saying that Italians don’t make great wine, Italians have had a host of winemaking geniuses such as Angelo Gaja.
Italian Food & Californian Wine
The region of Tuscany produces some of the best red wines in the world. Commonly nicknamed the super Tuscans, wines such as Sassicaia and Solaia, are made from a blend from the Sangiovese grape using a very special winemaking process that makes them what they are today.
Italians also have other magnificent wines such as the Barolo and Barbaresco duo which everybody knows about. These wines can stand up to filet mignon or something like venison chop. And as for Italian whites Americans are very fond of Pinot Grigio. This is a refreshing and sharp white wine that goes best with appetizers.
The simple reason is that California is producing the best wines they ever had. Their grape growing conditions have been perfect for years now and we can all remember the 1997 godly vintage. This is a special year for California as they finally succeeded in getting capital with what was called the “vintage of a century”.
Of course the ideal weather in 1997 contributed a big part of the quality of those wines, but we can’t take away credit from the winemakers either. Winemaking is becoming more of a science and less of an art than you might think. Every experiment provides deeper understanding into how exactly everything works.
The point is that whatever Italians can do right now Californians can do just as well and for a better cost: shipping takes less time and is less costly overall. They have translated Pinot Gris and Sangiovese incredibly well. In fact I haven’t found any bottle of said wines that I didn’t like as of yet.
Pinot Gris is a light wine that is sharp but also full. It has sensibly less acidity and pairs well with roasted eggplant soup. Sangiovese is ripe and has mellow flavors but brighter than it’s Italian cousin. This wine pairs extremely well with a host of Italian dishes such as spicy Italian chilli, grilled eggplant Parmesan and summer Pasta Sauce.
Pairing Italian food with Californian wine is new and different from anything Italian pairings had to offer. California is like the place of rediscovered wines. And they have not only taken on Italian wines, but also French wines. One example is Viognier, with its tropical bouquet and spicy, yet fruity finish it truly is a remarkable wine to try.
If you’re past the standard food and wine pairings try some Italian-Californian duo. I almost forgot to mention a pairing for Viognier – try any rich pasta and I think you will be very much surprised to see how well they work together.
Sure some of these recipes might not get the Rhonda Patrick stamp of approval, but they taste damn good!