The people of Italy are what makes the country such a unique pleasure to the world. They have deep-rooted pride in their land and even strong bonds with family. Recipes have been handed down for multiple generations, carefully looked after by trusted members of the household. Many centuries of passion are visible through the outstanding works of art. Monuments from past millennia dot every corner of the Italian peninsula. Wine is integral to the history of the country. Ancient Romans shared their winemaking knowledge across a quarter of the world. This influence continues today but through the continued mastery of modern winemaking and global trade.

Natale Verga Chianti Classico Riserva

This bottle has supple notes of ripe red cherry, chocolate, and earthy mushroom. The wine has smooth present tannins with bright acidity to balance with a medium body. The Chianti Classico reserve would pair well with veal, pork, and red sauce dishes, because the moderate body with match well in intensity. Another fine wine pairing would be with Parmigiano-Reggiano, as it makes for a lovely regional pairing.

Old-Bay Crab Cakes

This dish nearly fell out of prominence until the world’s most famous butcher, Dario Cecchini of Tuscany, launched this dish back into prominence with his crazy antics. Like many dishes from Italy, the recipe is simple, but it takes love to make this steak dish excellent. If you have a lot of love to give and a couple of bunches of sage and rosemary, you can cook like an Italian. This dish is cooked rare with veal but can be made with beef T-bone or Porterhouse as well. This cut of meat and grilling technique would work well with the Chianti Classico Riserva because what grows together goes together. The earthy undertones of the wine will complement the grassy notes of the meat, making for a harmonious pairing.

Cooking Tips:

  • Salt the meat like it is snowing.
  • Clap the herbs between your hands so that the aromatic oils rise the surface.
  • Do not use so much oil that it drips off the meat. Excessive oil will burn and taste acrid.

Maturo Montepulciano

The wine has ripe notes of black plum, dark cherry, and dry soil. This bottle has round tannins with zippy acidity and an energetic medium-light body. The Montepulciano d’Abruzzo would pair well with lighter red meat and sauced dishes because of the moderate body with pair with food of this level of intensity. Additionally, this wine goes well alongside Pecorino, as the acidity in both would complement each other in intensity.

Veal Meatballs in Red Wine Sauce

While an Italian may argue with you that meatballs are an entrée to be served by themselves, we will not judge if you choose to include a little bit of pasta with your main dish. Italians like to course out their meals, which makes for an extensive entertaining dinner that goes on for literal hours. If you decide that you want an accompaniment, consider having two courses or more to try out a long dinner for yourself. Just make sure you have plenty of wine to last the evening! The wine we suggest for this pairing will make for an excellent base for the sauce. Make sure to serve this wine with your meal so that you get a complementary bridging effect from having used the wine while cooking!

Cooking Tips:

  • You can swap out the ground veal for any ground meat, which will have a slightly different flavor profile and texture.
  • Use the same wine that you will be drinking for cooking. This will bridge the notes of the wine to the food, complementing the flavors of the meatballs.
  • Do not keep the meatballs in your hands for long or work in a warm area. You want to keep the meat as cold as possible so the shape holds better for cooking.

Santa Silvana Pinot Grigio

This wine has a delicate perfumed notes of white pear blossoms, white peach and lemon. The pinot grigio has a light body with temperate acidity and a little preceptive sweetness. This bottle would accompany seafood, pasta and a number of light dishes, as a meal that is too rich would overpower the elegant notes of the wine. Also, the wine would pair well will mozzarella, as the light cheese would make for a nice canvas for the airy qualities of the wine.

Pasta With Mussels

Pasta is a translation of love in many languages. Like a healthy relationship, little things are what make a simple dish like this a success. Salting the pasta water properly, using the right amount of sauce, the doneness of cooking are all relatively simple factors that require attention and patience. For this dish, the mussels will lend bold flavor, aroma, richness, and texture to the pasta. The wine used during cooking can also be served with the meal. It creates a connection between the two with similar aromatic notes.

Cooking Tips:

  • Cook the chicken to 160° internal temperature, resting the chicken will bring it up around 5 degrees to a safe and juicy temperature.
  • Tie the herbs in a bunch with butchers’ twine, so that it is easier to remove.
  • Season the inside of the cavity as well as the outside so that the meat is thoroughly and evenly seasoned.

Grand Reali Prosecco

This sparking Charmat wine has energetic notes of pineapple and Meyer lemon. This bottle is light in body with zippy acidity and satisfyingly present sweetness. The fizz that this wine provides is a constant stream of medium bubbles that forms a lasting head. When choosing a food to pair with this prosecco, pick foods that are savory and have lots of umami like Parmesan. Normally savory and umami-rich foods tend to fatigue the palate, but bubbles help refresh the palate making the next bite of food taste just as fresh and new as the first bite.

Prosciutto Wrapped Dates

When savory meets sweet, the taste buds smile. Prosciutto-wrapped dates call for three main ingredients that are perfect partners for each other. The dates have a sweet complexity to them. Then the blue cheese has funky and intensity. Finally, the Prosciutto has salty, savory umami. Together with their notes and complexity meld with each other to make a satisfyingly crave-able amuse. This intense food needs a beverage that has carbonation and sweetness, like prosecco, to handle the huff of the dish.

Cooking Tips:

  • Dates have hard pill shaped pits in them, be careful cutting them.
  • Plan for about 3 dates per person, as they are very snackable.

Cocktails To Try

Rome With A View

“The 5 O’clock Somewhere Americano”

This cocktail will remind you of a Negroni, but transport you to the cafes of Rome, the hills of Tuscany, and the fashionable streets of Milan. The light mix has a touch of sweetness and bitterness that breathes life into the phrase “la dolce vita.” The author, Michael McIlroy of Attaboy bar in New York City, made a name for himself at the famous Milk and Honey bar. Maybe one day this cocktail will be remembered as a classic as well.

Ingredients for one:

  • 1 ounce Campari
  • 1 ounce dry vermouth
    • (optional swap with Grays Peak Vodka for a stronger drink)
  • 1 ounce lime juice
  • 3/4 ounce simple syrup
  • soda water
  • Garnish: orange wheel

Steps to make:

  1. Add all of the ingredient into a cocktail shaker: Campari, dry vermouth (or vodka), lime juice and simple syrup.
  2. Add ice and shake until your hand feels chilled.
  3. Double strain over ice into a Collins glass.
  4. Top with soda water and garnish with an orange wheel.

Aperol Spritz

“The Quintessential Italian Aperitif”

With how much Aperol Spritz dominated our attention, one would think that this seemingly classic cocktail has been around forever. This cocktail is sweet like a cherry, bitter like an orange peel, and incredibly easy drinking. Its roots are deep, as people have been cutting their wine with water and adding bitters since the ’20s. Funny enough, prosecco was only an addition to the mix in the ’90s. If you want to give this modern classic a historic flair, add or even replace the orange wheel with an olive. The people of Venice were doing this a century ago, and even though it sounds weird, a fresh Castelvetrano is this cocktails soulmate.

Ingredients for one:

  • 3 ounces Grand Reali Prosecco
  • 2 ounces Aperol
  • 1 ounce soda water
  • Garnish: orange half-wheel

Steps to make:

  1. 3 ounces Grand Reali Prosecco
  2. 2 ounces Aperol
  3. 1 ounce soda water
  4. Garnish: orange half-wheel