Piedmont food and wine pairing – let’s eat!
My passion for flavor started with wine. While I have long enjoyed cooking, my move to Italy brought new meaning as it soothed my feelings of isolation. In many ways, my knowledge of food and wine pairing came as a byproduct of culture shock through reading, experimentation, and asking tons of questions.
Still, food and wine pairing intimidates many, especially with wines from a lesser-known region like Piedmont. So, here’s a guide to keep it all straight, starting with a food and wine pairing basics.
The Piedmont Food and Wine Guide Includes:
- Food and wine pairing basics
- Piedmont’s primary wine varietals
- What to know about the wine
- What to pair
- Recipes to try
Piedmont Food and Wine Pairing: Whites and Sparkling
Arneis Wine Pairing Notes
A top white in this red-dominated region.
What to know: Arneis is medium-bodied with low acidity (think Riesling for a high acidity contrast). It’s not a very aromatic varietal. The taste profile is pear, green apple, hints of blossom, and a slightly savory, nutty finish.
What to pair: Fish, white meats like turkey and chicken, carbonara, lighter cheese sauces, and even mild curries. In the summer try cold ham, cooked ham off the bone, and salumi.
Cortese Wine Pairing Notes
Labeled “Gavi”, the characteristics are similar to Arneis. Follow the same pairing recommendations. Though, Gavi can be a better choice for fish given its proximity to the sea.
Try These Recipes With Arneis and Gavi:
- FoodWineClick’s Anchovy Beet-green Pesto Pasta
- Chicken Thighs Braised in White Wine
- BBQ Chicken in a Citrus Butter Curry Sauce
Moscato d’Asti Wine Pairing Notes
Moscato d’Asti is a semi-sweet, low alcohol sparkling wine.
What to know: On the nose are floral aromas with hints of peaches and apricot. The palate shows medium acidity with big, juicy fruit flavors of pear, apple, peach, and apricot.
What to pair: The light sweetness makes an excellent match with fruit-based desserts, like apple desserts, berries, and peach cobbler. Hazelnuts work well since Piedmont is the land of hazelnuts. Add it to brunch or happy hour / aperitivo spreads – the balance of sweetness and salty make it a perfect compliment.
Try These Recipes With Moscato d’Asti:
- Full English Breakfast: Moscato for Breakfast
- Italian Kiwi’s Salame Dolce
- Domenica Cooks’ Torta di Nocciole (hazelnut cake)
- Old Fashioned Apple Pie
Piedmont Food and Wine Pairing: Reds
Dolcetto Wine Pairing Notes
Dolcetto means ‘little sweet one’. It’s a favorite table red of the region that pairs well with rustic foods and antipasti. Try Dolcettos from Dogliani and Diano d’Alba for some of the top expressions.
What to know: Soft, easy-drinking with low acidity, and full, sweet tannins. Dolcetto is bright on the palate with tart, slightly bruised cherry flavors. In recent years producers have been making more fruit-forward versions; they show darker, heavier fruits.
What to pair: Pizza, tomato-based ragu, moderately spiced chili, and slightly spiced pork rib on the barbecue. Also pairs great with cured meats.
Try These Recipes With Dolcetto:
- The Most Excellent Pizza and Focaccia Dough
- Spicy Stewed Sausages with Three Peppers
- Italian Chili
Pelaverga Wine Pairing Notes
What to know: It’s a light- to medium-bodied red with good acidity. On the palate are strawberries and the signature Verduno white and black pepper characteristics. Serve slightly chilled to enhance its flavor.
What to pair: Try chicken, turkey, lightly spiced thai food, mild curries, and paella. At our annual Italian Thanksgiving, we paired it with Roast Turkey with Chestnut Apple stuffing. The acidity cut through the turkey fat and its lighter, peppery profile was a perfect complement to the apple stuffing.
Try these recipes with Pelaverga:
Barbera Wine Pairing Notes
Barbera is the most widely planted grape of the region. Probably not surprising, it’s also an adaptable and vigorous varietal. Its broad range of styles give endless options for the dinner table.
Read more on Barbera wine pairing.
What to know: Barbera’s high acidity cuts through animal and vegetable fat. Despite its deceiving deep ruby color, it is low in tannin. On the palate, it shows brambly fruit, red cherries, and spice.
What to pair:< Meat- and tomato-based pasta dishes, game, hard cheeses, as well as grilled meats like hamburgers and sausages. For a fuller Barbera, try a lightly seasoned beef dish or lamb (roast, curry, stew).
Try These Recipes With Barbera:
- Eggplant Parmesan Stacks: Make your own marinara sauce!
- Pasta Carbonara alla Barbera: Recipe from the Barbaresco winery Franco Rocca in Neive.
- Oven Roasted Pulled Pork with Barbecue Sauce
- Beef Stew: Use the same Barbera for the stew to bring out the taste.
Nebbiolo Wine Pairing Notes
Nebbiolo is considered one of Italy’s noble varietals. Its powerful tannins make it an age-worthy wine that demands a rich food and wine pairing combination. To enjoy young, drink Langhe Nebbiolo or Nebbiolo d’Alba. In general Langhe Nebbiolo grapes are grown in the Langhe hills while Nebbiolo d’Alba usually comes from the sandier soils of the Roero.
What to know: Nebbiolo offers beautiful balance with good acidity and heavy tannins. It’s intensely aromatic and perfumed. On the palate it shows dried petals, more red fruit than black, and earthy tar notes.
What to pair: Rich, heavy meats and sauces work well. For something different, try moderately spiced Asian cuisine; the red fruit, high tannin, acidity levels, and perfume support Asian dishes.
Try These Recipes With Nebbiolo:
- Julia Child’s Coq au Vin: Make it with a bigger Langhe nebbiolo.
- Sausage, Asparagus, and Mushroom Risotto
- Asian Noodle Bowl with Steak and Snow Peas
Barbaresco Wine Pairing Notes
The Queen to Barolo’s King, Barbaresco is the more elegant of the Langhe royalty. The wine requires three years of aging (nine months in oak) before release. These wines really start to show their beauty between five and 10 years. Holding them can be hard, but oh-so-worth-it.
Read more on Barbaresco wine pairing.
What to know: Given it is 100 percent Nebbiolo, Barbaresco has a red and some black fruits with a rich, elegant structure. It shows more savory, earthy notes than a younger Nebbiolo.
What to pair: Darker, gamier meats with rich sauces; venison, prime rib, wild boar, etc. Many local producers swear by fish, too! Read more at the Barbaresco wine pairing link above!
Try These Recipes With Barbaresco:
- Spring Stew with Mint, Lemon, and Glazed Carrots
- Balsamic Blueberry Chicken
- FoodWineClick’s Spring Pea Basil Risotto
Barolo Wine Pairing Notes
The Barolo of today is a stark contrast to its early rich sweet and fruity style (similar to a ruby port). Before release to market Barolo must be aged for 4 years, 18 months in oak. It starts to show its beauty after 10 years but can be laid down much longer. Barolos often need more time for the tannins to soften.
Read more on Barolo wine pairing.
What to know:Fuller than Barbaresco, Barolo shows a more tannic, tar essence. It has more intense structure and complexity with its heavier tannins.
What to pair: Pair with rich, heavy meats, and sauces like Beef Wellington.
Try These Recipes With Barolo:
- Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon
- FoodWineClick’s Beef Short Ribs Braised in Barolo.
- Denise’s Bistrot Salad
- Barolo Braised Veal: Traditional recipe from Barbaresco winemaker Giorgio Rivetti of La Spinetta.
Buon Appetito, Ragazzi!
Food and wine pairing is a fun way to explore wine. Try regional, traditional to better understand the cultural aspects, but also play with unique pairings to give the wine new life. I get teased about all the french cooking I do with Piemontese wines. But, I simply love the fusion.
Once you know the wine characteristics that factor into food pairing, experimenting is so fun.
Please share your favorite food and wine pairing recommendations below or on social media (Facebook and Instagram)!