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Authentic Southern Italian Cuisine
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Demystifying Wine Pairing

July 21, 2012 Carlino's Restaurant no comments

"Italian food and wines were meant to be together"

Oenophiles may assure you that pairing food and wine is an arcane art that only knowledgeable people should try, but the truth is far simpler: let taste be your guide. No one knows better than you what you like, so you’re the best judge of which wines go with your dinner. However, some guidelines will help you narrow down the kinds of wines that make the happiest match with your meal.

Pick wines and foods that evolved together to increase the chances of a felicitous pairing. A great Chianti Classico naturally meshes well with the big, bold flavors of southern Italian cooking because  the dish and the drink arose from the same sunny Mediterranean climate. The vintners who grew up enjoying rich, tangy marinara sauces later produced wines that complemented their favorite familiar foods, so choosing wines and foods from the same region is virtually a guarantee of a happy partnership.

Lighter dishes typically go with lighter wines. Full-bodied Super-Tuscan red wines accent a rich, meaty lasagna, but they could overwhelm a more delicate plate of clams Posillipo or lemony veal piccata. Italian dishes often combine big flavors with subtle ones, giving you more pairing options. Consider the peppers, onions and tomatoes in chicken cacciatore; you could choose a bold white wine to accent the tender chicken while standing up to the rich sauce, or you could pick a light-bodied traditional Italian red wine made with Sangiovese grapes to highlight the tangy tomatoes without overpowering the chicken.

Wine pairings generally follow one of two philosophies: creating balance or emphasizing an essential characteristic of the food. Which direction you take depends largely on your taste. A Chardonnay highlights the buttery flavor of chicken Francese; a light, astringent Sauvignon Blanc balances the rich buttery notes and offsets them with crispness. You might enjoy a sweet dessert wine at the end of your meal, or you might prefer a full-bodied, fruity wine that acts as a refreshing counterpoint to a sweet dish. Accentuate the flavor of your food with wines that have similar notes; balance them with wines that go in the opposite direction.

If you’re new to enjoying wine pairings, you may be reluctant to splurge on a whole bottle of an untested wine at dinner. That’s why Carlino’s offers wine by the glass. Sample our cellar’s selection before you make a decision or enjoy the variety that choosing wines by the glass gives you. Impress a business client or a special date by trying a few different wines a week or two before your special occasion, then order a bottle of your favorite for the table on the big night itself.

If you have any questions, Carlino’s knowledgeable staff can answer them. Your server knows every dish on the menu well and can also recommend wine pairings to get you started. Italian food and wines were meant to be together, so have a glass with your dinner and see how much a great wine can add to your enjoyment.

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